See trips hub: Europe Road Ways

For themes of conflict, present in any country, see Studying War.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Worms Cathedral, Bishop Burchard, Worms, Germany

This is Bishop Burchard at Worms. Say "Vorms." Or "Verms." Please. Here is the story of his life, written soon after he died in 1025: do read it aloud for a while, at He wrote a collection of canon law., among other achievements. If you like odd bits, with your history, try It says that he left his sister, in his will, a hair shirt and chains. Follow the links and you find that these were reminders of penance and mortality. There is also reference to the violence of the day in accomplishing one's goals.

Other Worms phrases, places and events that come to mind:

1. Diet of Worms. That means the Reichstag or legislative body there. The Diet of Worms in the 16th century declared Martin Luther an outlaw for refusing to withdraw his statements of belief, leading to the Reformation. and read more at the usually-helpful starting point,,_Germany. A summary of that event, is at another generally good starting point,; and

2. Coat of arms. Early times in summary: Worms originated with the Celts, was captured by the Romans, became a Christian bishopric in 600-something. Coat of arms, history and legendary beginnings -- the locksmith who foiled the dragon who wanted the queen - all at Pay attention to heraldry. The site says that five-pointed stars were used by the French, six-pointed stars, as shown on the Worms flag, are German. Way back when.

3. Heiliger Sand - founded in about the 11th Century, and believed to be the oldest Jewish cemetery in Europe. See
Much of the Jewish section of Worms was destroyed in Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, see, in 1938, that killing, razing and destruction pogrom that many believe was the beginning of the holocaust against the Jews.

4. Niebelungen. Many scenes for it are set here - read about Richard Wagner's opus at There is a Niebelungen museum here, but we did not go in.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Worms area ferry : Follow the rule

Ferry, at Worms, Germany
If you see a ferry sign, you have to take it.

This is the one found after the cloverleaf-mixmaster around Worms, as we aimed in vain toward Aachen and Charlemagne. Finally said, Enough.

And got off and just went cross-country - and found a ferry. Great idea. It left us at a place called Bruhl, see 1575 etching and maps at, and found our way beyond to Aachen easily from there.

Only our car, and one motorcycle on board. Ahhh.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Trier, Romans and WWII

Trier - the WWII allied breakthrough here was, to the German soldier writing here, about one of the greatest catastrophes of WWII. See

The Roman gate here, built as part of a much larger building, is known as the Black Gate. See Click below the picture at the Trier online site there for an album of the area. Now, it looks like the gate is cleaning itself, the effect of cleaner air, as I see in Pittsburgh over the past decades.

Roman monuments in Trier are also World Heritage sites. See

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Burg Eltz - The Survivor Castle. Tribute to Diplomacy.

Burg Eltz Castle, toward the Rhine area - standing after centuries of wars around. See
The family managed, we were told, because they were master diplomats, able to bridge any dispute. The same family has owned the castle for all that time, and ongoing. Original furnishings in many rooms. Cars can only go so far, then visitors walk down the longish road to the castle. Fine photo gallery at
Burg Eltz Castle, Germany

There is a rose symbol above a door in the imposing council room. That shape means confidentiality: what is said here, stays here, a custom stemming (ahem) from Roman times. For more on sub rosa, see

We may be more familiar with the now-commercialized uses of rose traditions, for example, this site from a florist:

Aachen: Charlemagne, his Gate and family values; the Romans

Aachen, Germany. Charlemagne's burial chapel, Cathedral
Charlemagne's burial chapel, at the Cathedral at Aachen. See details of his life, and the burial here at the Medieval Sourcebook site, Scroll up to the full menu. This site notes some disagreement on where the remains are,

The Cathedral - Hear the choir at
There are four selections. I tend to find a music site, put it on in a separate window, and just lean back for a while. The home page is The Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage site. See

Aachen Cathedral, Aachen, Germany

Charlemagne's Gate, Aachen, Germany
The fortress-type gate on the left is Charlemagne's Gate at Aachen. It had been part of an entire city wall system.

Find Charlemagne's geneology at, and note his father, Pepin the Short, or Pepin III (Broadway?), King of the Franks; and his mother, Bertha "Bigfoot" of Laon. His son is also Pepin. Is that Broadway? No, that is Pippin. See numerous Pepins/Pippins at

Charlemagne: In sum, a great medieval king, with a vast interest in education. He had palaces at Aachen, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, see Netherlands Road Ways, and Ingelheim. His favorite was at the capital, at Aachen, and his cremains are there. Aachen's Cathedral is a World Heritage site. See He was an early Christian, and the chapel is also still there. He was 6'2" tall.

Charlemagne and family values: a biography of the historian, Will Durant, says as follows - this little quote surely being fair use, out of the huge work as a whole, and this trifle not discouraging anyone from going to the original:

"He was so fond of his daughters that he dissuaded them from marriage, saying that he could not bear to be without them. They consoled themselves with unlicensed amours, and bore several illegitimate children. Charlemagne accepted these accidents with good humor, since he himself, following the custom of his predecessors, had four successive wives and five mistresses or concubines. His abounding vitality made him extremely sensitive to feminine charms; and his women preferred a share in him to the monopoly of any other man. His harem bore him some eighteen children, of whom eight were legitimate."

Little excerpt quoted from Will Durant's biography in the 1950's, found at

See the Chemnitz site here for more on Charlemagne and the other Germanic groups.

Aachen, Puppet Fountain, and Money Fountain

Value of Public Art
Dan Widing at the Aachen puppet fountain, Germany .
German fountains. Destination points on their own. These are at Aachen. The puppets are all hinged - participate! Adjust their positions. Arms up, down, out, bent, legs askew, horses leaping. All the component occupations and people of the town: cleric, old man, old woman, fool, king, rooster, intellectual.
Photos missed:
The Money Fountain. There is also a flat, round "circulation of money" pool and fountain - Three rich and fat entities pass money back and forth on the water top, and behind their backs, on one side.
There is a gentle but insistent whirlpool in the center, sucking money down the drain.  The poor fellows on the other side reach out but never get at the money, and a father and child (father with some money) watch. Watch it yourself. See Aachen guide at
PBS values art in public places. See The World Equestrian Games were held in Aachen in 2006 - see pictures of fountain there at
Other cities follow suit - See the plague fountain at Altotting; and the marriage carousel fountain at Nuremberg. And the whimsy of figures holding on to the sides of buildings that you may happen to see looking up, especially in Munich.
Dark sides of a people, and of all of us. Light sides of a people, and of all of us. In the same space.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cologne: Cathedral, Organ Grinder

Koln:  Organ Grinder and Cathedral
Dan Widing with the Organ Grinder, Cologne or Koln, Germany
The organ grinder is different from the hurdy-gurdy player, who expresses himself on a six-stringed instrument.  Neither the organ grinder or his monkey played the hurdy-gurdy, see

The Cathedral:  a history of a site extending to Roman times.
Cologne Cathedral, Germany. Koln Cathedral

Cologne.  Koln.  From the sublime, the Cathedral, to the everyday, an organ grinder.  The cathedral is a World Heritage site, see   The Cathedral was begun in 1248, and completed late - 1843, see; or later, 1880, see
Its history at the site predates the Cathedral.  Early Christians in Roman times met near the city wall, in a house. In 313, when Constantine declared freedom in worship, the structure was expanded, and ultimately became the site of the Cathedral. See It needed to be expanded again when the relics of the magi were brought (so claimed).  The French took Cologne in 1794, and the place was used for storage. The Priests fled to Aachen. Prussia took control in 1815; and the work began again on repair, expansion, completion.
We were told at Cologne and elsewhere that many tall churches were left intact during WWII. This was not out of reverence, but because the spires helped the bombers locate targets. There is a very dark Madonna inside, maybe not as clearly "black" in color as the other medieval black madonnas, but might be. Look up Black Madonnas and find out? This one is the old triangular shape, as in Guadalupe, Spain, and a very tiny, tiny Jesus. The remains of the Three Kings are here - 3 skulls, 3 crowns. Claimed.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Rhine: Castles, Traumerei

Rhine River Castles, Fortresses, Toll Stations
Cruises down the Rhine River are popular. More interesting is the drive. Stops are possible in the towns along the way. Some structures are fortresses, some castles, some toll stations.

Pfaltzgrafenstein Toll Station, Rhine River, Germany
Pfaltzgrafenstein was built in 1327.  Ludwig the Bavarian had this bright idea for increasing his wealth.  It served as a toll place until about 1866.  Earlier, in 1813-14, Fieldmarshal Blucher crossed the Rhine here with his army, beginning the fall of Napoleon.  See
See more castle views at The full listing is at
Back to Pfaltzgrafenstein: That is the bathroom, the dark turret showing here at top left just below the main tower, overhanging the river. Very sensible. An arrangement usual in any castle, best with working moats.
The Necessary in European castles.  Many vent down the sides. What else to do?  At Carrickfergus in Ireland, educational wax figures show scenes of castle life and chores. Go up the small stairs in one tower, and suddenly there is the WC complete with king with crown askew, bloomers at ankles, looking up at you very surprised. Or was he looking out the window at that one? 

Or take a cruise. We like the flexibility of driving. We follow whims, but often find out reasons to visit somewhere after we are home.

Traumerei. Traumerei means reverie or dreams, and so the title of a lovely piece of music, Schubert's Traumerei. Find it, if you like, at; and also, for Al Jolson's rendition. A drive or cruise down is dreamlike in the unfolding of castle scene after castle scene, and river bends.