Friday, 1 June 2018

daytrip: treffpunkt treffurt

We ventured a little further north along Thüringen’s by-ways following the Werra River valley past the Wartburg and the Rennsteig and wholly eschewing the Autobahn for a casual trip connecting each intervening town’s and village’s main street and arrived at the town of Treffurt, commissioned by Charlemagne in the eighth century to protect pilgrims to the abbey of Bad Langensalz.
Meaning three-crossings (where one can ford the river), the settlement was surrounded by a bend in the Werra completely except for a narrow isthmus connecting it to the rest of the interior and lies immediately on the Hessen border. The high castle of Normannstein dominates the town, completed around the year 1000, and was the garrison for a contingent of local knights for over six centuries until falling into ruin from neglect—its strategic advantage having been expended, and rehabilitated from the late nineteenth century until the 1970s, it served as a gastronomical prestige project. The restaurant due to its proximity to the border with West Germany became a staging-ground for several escapes and was essentially closed until the German reunification.
Refreshment concessions have been the saving grace of many castles and fortresses. Intersecting with the German Route of Cross-Timbered Houses (die Deutsche Fachwerkstraße, previously), the Altstadt of Treffurt below had many fine examples of the style, including the well-preserved and stylistically significant old Rathaus.
On the return trip, Eisennach seemed a bit daunting with finding a parking space and it seemed there was quite a lot of visitors hiking up towards the Wartburg, so instead we went back to a spa town called Bad Salzungen, a place that had been extracting salt since the 1300s.  A stork was brooding on the rooftop near the thorn chambers (Gradientwerk) were the evaporation takes place and the minerals can be gathered and saw the nesting bird was being monitored with her own webcam, so H tuned in and we had sort of a meta-experience seeing the mother stork up close and from a distance at the same time. Travelling along the side roads, we got a better idea of the lay of the land and passed several places to stop and explore next time around.