Sunday, 4 September 2016

churfrankenland

We had heard of the Kurhesse region or even Churmainz previously (referring to the principalities’ electoral passing influence) but never before the term Churfranken, which was adopted not too long ago by a consortium of towns, villages and singular destinations along the River Main between the Spessart and Odenwald mountain ranges to promote themselves. We took advantage of the extended weekend to take a drive through this area and saw a few of the sites.
First, we toured the grounds of Schloss Mespelbrunn, an early Renaissance moated castle and keep still owned by the same noble family, governor of the Archbishop of Mainz six centuries on. We had the briefest of tours before being inundated with the crowds from a tour bus that had just arrived, but we were able to navigate through the trophy room ourselves and marvel at the authentic state of the elements and embellishments.
We clung to the river’s banks, crisscrossing several bridges and saw quite a lot along the way before stopping in historic Miltenberg. Here too, we unexpectedly found ourselves overwhelmed with crowds—there was a huge festival going on, but had a nice walk through the town nonetheless. Established as Roman fortress because of its strategic and defensible location, the town prospered throughout the Middle Ages because of its deposits of red sandstone, a distinctive building material much valued all over Europe.
The market, town gates and scores of half-timbered (Fachwerk) houses were absolutely charming and well-preserved. Among the main sites is the inn Zum Riesen (the Giant), whose registration documents dating back to the early 1400s make it one of the oldest, continuously running hotels in the world, with its guests including Holy Roman emperors, kings, generals, Napoléon, chancellors and Elvis Presley. We’ll have to return here soon and explore more.