Wednesday, 8 July 2020

architecture sacred and profane

We started driving along the upper Moselle valley passing through the wine-producing region and first took a detour for a short hike outside of the town of Alf—connected to a village called Bullay on the opposite shore by a rather striking double-decker bridge with a carriage for automobiles below and trains above—up to Burg Arras, a twelfth century Hรถhenburg (a hill castle) built from the foundations of an earlier Roman horse stables.
Next we drove on to the Marienburg perched on the nearby foothills at one of the many bends of the river, the former Augustine cloister, now used as retreat and education centre, having a commanding view of both sides.
Particularly striking was the ribbon of masonry arches for the train tracks that crossed the valley below.
Afterwards, we explored the city of Traben-Trarbach, an Art Deco (Jugendstil) jewel nestled in the so called Valley of the Dawn whose wine trade is only second to Bordeaux—with quite a few representative works to marvel at.

The surrounding territory once known as Rhenish Franconia, it was fought over between France and the Holy Roman Empire, trading hands several times and includes the remains of a Vauban (see above and also here, here and here) fort outside the city in a development known as Port Royal.  Not much was left and the fortification was only recently rediscovered but one might imagine how imposing it was. 

Unable to visit any restaurants in the city, we stopped in an outdoor cafรฉ in Riel and sampled some wine before heading back through Bremm at the bend in the river where Calmont hill rises steeply over the valley and the vineyards here—producing some of the finest wines in the world are tended at an impossible angle of up to 65ยบ of obliquity. It took some consulting of a map but we figured out how to cross to visit the ruined shell of Stuben convent in the fields of the opposite bank.
A local noble in 1137 donated his property on the promontory across from Bremm to an abbot in exchange for building the monastery in that area at the request of his daughter. The archbishop of Trier made good on this arrangement and limited membership to one hundred women who ran the cloister and performed charitable works. The convent was the chief landholder of the community up until 1802 and the suppression of the monasteries (deutsche Mediatisierung), a major territorial restructuring and secularisation of estates, pressed for reform and redistribution by Napoleon and revolutionary France.