Cologne, Germany’s 4th largest city, is located on the mighty Rhine River, historically one of the great rivers of the continent and among the most important arteries of industrial transport in the world. As one example, while we were here, we saw 5 or 6 river cruise boats anchored in Cologne. The city was founded and established in the 1st century AD as a Roman settlement. When Cologne began building its underground transportation system they discovered extensive Roman ruins. In the year 310 AD under the emperor Constantine I a bridge was built over the Rhine at Cologne.
Frankfurt is unlike any other Germany city. It is a finance and business hub, home to one of the world’s largest stock exchanges as well as the new headquarters for the European Central Bank. Its airport is the third largest in Europe. Due to its soaring skyline and the Main River that runs through it, Frankfurt refers to itself as “Main-hatten”.
Mentioned in historical documents as far back as 794 AD, Frankfurt was an important center for the Holy Roman Empire. With the election of Frederick I in 1152, the city became the customary site of the selection of Emperors and German Kings. A stock exchange began operating in Frankfurt in 1585.
On our drive from Heidelberg to Frankfurt, we stopped off to visit Frankenstein Castle (Burg Frankenstein). No kidding. It is thought that this castle may have been an inspiration for Mary Shelley when she wrote her 1818 Gothic novel, Frankenstein.
Frankenstein Castle (actually the ruins of the castle) is located in the Odenwald mountain range, overlooking the southern outskirts of Darmstadt, Germany. Before 1250, Lord Conrad II Reiz of Brueberg built Frankenstein Castle. He was the founder of the free imperial Barony of Frankenstein. The castle fell into ruins in the 18th century.
In 1673, Johann Conrad Dippel was born in the castle, where he was later engaged as a professional alchemist. There are rumors that during his stay at Frankenstein Castle, Dippel not only practiced alchemy but also anatomy and may have performed experiments on dead bodies that he exhumed. It is suggested these rumors about Dippel influenced Mary Shelley’s fantasy when she wrote her Frankenstein novel. It is known that in 1814, Shelley took a journey on the river Rhine and spent some time in the area near the castle.
The city of Heidelberg is located about 48 miles south of Frankfurt on the Neckar River. The village of Bergheim, which now lies at the heart of modern Heidelberg, was first mentioned in documents dated 769 AD. The founding of Heidelberg is considered to be 1196 when that name was referred to in a document in Schönau Abbey, a 12th century monastery.
On our way from Freiburg to Heidelberg, we stopped off in Triberg, located in the heart of Germany’s Black Forest. In fact, Triberg claims to be the home of Black Forest cake.
Our first stop was to have a look at the Triberg Waterfalls which is one of the highest waterfalls in Germany. The water here tumbles about 600 feet over seven naturally created steps. There are numerous walkways and bridges that allow you to wander along most of the waterfall’s course. The town of Triberg lies at the bottom of the falls.