Friday, 10 July 2020

unter dem burgen

The site of our last night of camping along the Moselle, guarded by a host of more manky swans, was in a village called Burgen beneath its namesake ensemble of a chapel and eleventh century fortification, Bischofstein, on the west bank of the river perched on a steep mountainside—though folk hagiographies place the castle back to a legendary time some six hundred years prior as the palace of Bishop Nicetius of Trier in the times of the Merovingian court (as opposed to the stronghold of the archbishops of Treves as it is believed historically to be) as a bulwark to protect trade and traffic in the region.
It was destroyed and rebuilt at least twice and exchanged hands many, many times—most recently to a business magnate from Darmstadt as a summer home and was purchased in 1930 (granted protection status as an example of interior design of that decade rather than as an eight-hundred year old castle) with refurbishment beginning then but was never occupied, the castle seeing incarnations as a sanatorium for returning soldiers and then as a safehouse for refugees. In the mid-1950s, it was purchased by the alumni association of a prestigious gymnasium in Krefeld, near Dรผsseldorf, as a retreat for students and a place to hold their class reunions and host other events. The tower’s white ring are the remnants of a plaster coating all but washed away by centuries of weathering, but local lore has all sorts of explanations, including that it indicates the high water mark for a particularly catastrophic flood.