The Donnersberg – walking on the 2000 year old Celtic oppidum

Tuesday – this is our eighth day on the road in Germany. Today we visit the Donnerberg, the highest mountain massif of the Pfalz, 686.5m high. Some 2000 years ago, the Celts had built an oppidum here overlooking the Rhine plane and the Palatine mountain land. They protected the city with a wall including fields and meadows for cattle.  Cesar conquered the area in 50 B.C. Now the remains of the wall of the Celtic oppidum form a 5km long footpath winding through the forest.

We park our car. Parts of the wall have been restored.

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The wall was made from dry masonry using the local Rhyolit stones, about 2.5 to 3m high. Behind the wall the Celts had accumulated earth for better protection.

This sign will now guide us along the wall.

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The sign represents the spokenail of the chieftain’s charriot. The head stuck out to make it clear to the members of the tribe: “Now the CHIEFTAIN is coming, get out of HIS way. “

We walk on the wall for about three quarters of an hour,…

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… until we reach a gate. This is what the gate once looked like.

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The pathway to the gate narrows down to ease attacking the enemy squeezed in here.

Behind the gate, we find the Ludwigsturm. Named after Ludwig II from Bayern, as this region once belonged to Bayern. A retired lawyer welcomes us with Mira, his friendly dog in front of this kiosk.

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“You are lucky today that I am here, I have coffee and cake to offer and I have the key for the tower. Do you want to climb it?” Oh yes, great!

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We climb up the winding stairs, open a heavy metal door, and enjoy the view of the Rhine plane with Worms, Mannheim, Ludwigshafen etc.

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We then enjoy coffee and cake, learn about the spokenail of the chieftain and about Adolf von Nassau – he was defeated and killed by Albrecht of Habsburg not far from here in the late 1290-ies, while fighting for the crown of Germany.

Along the remains of the oppidum wall we continue our walk to the Königstuhl or Chair of the King. Here we learn that this mountain has been formed by volcanic activity, but the volcano did not erupt – it just lifted the Rhyolit stones from the magna to the surface of the earth where they solidified.

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We continue to walk on the wall, until we reach another reconstructed piece of the wall. We continue along the next signpost… walk uphill… strange… uphill?… uphill?… and back we are at the Königsstuhl. One full circle… what has happened? We walk back down again, reach the reconstructed piece of the wall, identify one sign that led us back up again – oh no – and continued now on the right path to our car.

We return to the Klostermühle where we enjoy another delicious dinner and plan our next day with the destination Nahe valley.

Northern Pfalz… Kusel, Lichtenberg, Lauterecken, Otterberg, and Klostermühle

The seventh day of our German tour. We say good-bye to the friendly “Kleine Blume” in Erfweiler and drive north. Our next target are the Pfälzerberge (Palatine Mountains) that reach the altitude of almost 700m (more hills than mountains by Swiss standards). Our route: Kusel, Lichtenberg (castle and Geoskop), Lauterecken, Otterberg and the Hotel Klostermühle near the Donnersberg.

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Kusel is famous for its musicians, the city reminds me of the fifties/sixties

Kusel is located in an economically weak region. The houses remind me of the fifties/sixties: The plasterwork is peeling off.

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Many houses are abandoned, on sale and many shops are empty waiting for new business. A couple from Palatine told us this anecdote: “Godfather met a man that sat on the border of a road weeping. He asks: “Why are you crying. I would like to help you”. The poor man says: “I am from Kusel and this is why I am weeping.” Godfather sits down next to him, puts his arm around him, starts to weep  as well and says: “You are from Kusel? Poor you. Then I cannot help you.””

Because the area is poor, citizens from Kusel emigrated. Many of them became musicians,  the most famous being Fritz Wunderlich. He was a tenor singer that sorely died already at the age of 35 in 1966. Kusel is proud of him and the bells at the townhall play one of his tunes every hour at twenty past…

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The town welcomes guests: There are a pedestrian zone and painted benches all over in the city center. At the central square this cosy bar invites to sit down under the trees.

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We select a small coffee bar at the Bahnhofstrasse. The owners are Italian speaking. They serve an excellent espresso and a delicious ice cream – we both eat two portions of it.

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Lichtenberg – castle and Geoskop

Not far from Kusel, we stop at the castle Lichtenberg that Ulrich Zwingli visited when traveling to Marburg in 1529.

The office for weddings is behind this door… I am not sure, whether I would like to get married here.

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Inside the castle we visit the Geoskop, a museum that gives insights into geology and petrifications – in particular of the Pfalz.

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Looking for the stone bridge in Lauterecken – missed it

Our guide book promises an old stone bridge in Lauterecken. Whenever you look for it – it is tucked away and there are no signs. We missed the bridge… and enjoyed this children’s shop instead.

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Otterberg – second largest Romanesque church in Pfalz

Ottenberg is a charming small town with half-timbered houses.

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Here we find the second largest Romanesque church of the Pfalz, from the 12th century. It is a sobre place for praying,…

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The church is being used as a protestant and catholic church (Simultaneum), as this region has changed landlords several times – some being catholic, some being protestant. Cuius regio, cuius religio: Catholic landlords imposed the catholic belief and protestant landlords the protestant belief. Hence the Northern Pfalz ended up with both religions that were celebrating in the same church.

I like the old sun clock from 11/12th century.

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Our next overnight stop: The Hotel Klostermühle

We look for the Hotel Klostermühle. According to our guide book, it is south of Imsbach. We oscillate back and forth, until we find out that our Hotel is in Münchweilen, a village about 5km away.  This Hotel is a gourmet place.

In the warm summer evening, we sit in the garden…

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… and enjoy a delicious Palatine menu.

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This is the terrine of the country hen.

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With it I take a glass of Silvaner from the river Nahe and a Cuvée from Zelltal (German Wine Route).

In the morning we catch the sun in the beautiful garden.

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Tomorrow we plan to explore the Celtic wall and the view of the Donnersberg, the highest mountain of the Pfalz.