There I am on the road again. It is end August 2016. With Ursula I travel to Germany: Neckar, Pfalz, Nahe, Mosel, Mittelrhein and Alsace. No fixed plans – we will stop, when we like it. The forecast is “sunshine, sunshine and sunshine”. Great prospect.
Our first picnic not far from St. Blasien – great view of the Alps
We have lunch on a bench on our way to St. Blasien in the Black Forest. The air has been cleaned by rain two days ago. We see the Alps from the Appenzell to the Bernese Oberland – somewhat in the haze.
St. Blasien – the neo classic dome with its huge cupola
St. Blasien is a surprise in the middle of the Black Forest, far away from any larger town: They have this majestic dome with one of the largest cupolas in Europe.
Inside it has been painted in white. The height and the diameter are 36m.
Maria entering heaven is the nouveau art painting that decorates the cupola…
… and a bright marble mosaic completes the cool and tidy atmosphere.
Why do we find such a large dome in the middle of “nowhere” in the Black Forest? Already in the 9th century, monks lived in this valley. In the 11th century there was a monastery here that took over the Benedictine rules. It became a Habsburgian-Austrian monastery later. It flourished in the 18th century and the abbots were promoted – they were now prince-bishops. They wanted a representative cathedral and had the dome constructed in early classical style; the cupola was the third-largest in Europe. Napoleon dissolved the monastery and gave St. Blasien to Germany. In 1933 the Jesuits bought the remains of the monastery and opened a school. In the late 20th century the dome was renovated (source: “Dom St. Blasien im Südschwarzwald”, Kunstverlag Josef Fink, 2012).
Donaueschingen – the sources of the Danube (Donau)
We continued our way to Donaueschingen that proudly says they own the source of the Danube (Donau).
Well, they do not own the “real” source. The “real” source is in Furtwangen. The Breg originates here. It disappears and re-emerges from the ground in Donaueschingen meeting a second river, the Brigach. I remember that I stood at this second source of the Danube some fifty years ago, with my mum-geologist who taught me about karst formations and underground rivers.
Along the Neckar to Rottenburg
Now we head north to find the Neckar that emerges near Schwenningen. We follow the still narrow river that winds through the hills topped by fortifications and beautiful old cities with timbered houses. We stop at one of these pretty cities, at Rottenburg. We find a room in the welcoming hotel St. Martin and have dinner near the fountain of the Austrian Landsknecht (like St. Blasien, this area belonged to Habsburg-Austria, before Napoleon aligned the possessions around 1800).
Rottenburg has been the bishop town of Württemberg since 1831. The Bishop’s palace is a beautiful modern building – I think it is about to fly to heaven.
A bishop town has a dome… this is the dome St. Martin on the market square (St. Martin was called “church”, until there was a bishop, then its status was raised to “dome”).
The water line of the Neckar with the weeping willows is romantic, also the ducks enjoy the evening.
A poet reads her works at the border of the Neckar – the audience congregates around her under the lamps.
In the morning we go for a short walk. We visit the dome St. Martin…
… and enjoy the morning atmosphere along the Neckar.
Then we drive north always following the Neckar…