The Niederwald Monument – another Statue of Liberty
Her body mass index may cause reason for concern: at a height of 12,35 metres and a weight of 32 tonnes, she may well be considered obese. Any serious physician would long have thrown in the towel over a patient so negligently indulgent as to tolerate an unbelievable BMI of 210! In Germania’s case, she’s innocent. She was designed as a symbol of prowess and was thus cast in virtually indestructible iron bronze – to make her last forever. Planning and building phases together took twelve years.
A poem, a song, a hit
Impressively towering above those undulating vineyards that lend the picturesque Rhine valley its typical romantic face, Germania was erected in memory of the German victory over France who was trying to gain local territory in 1870/1871. Her enormous sword safely points down to the ground instead of being fiercely wielded up in the air. Reliefs on her pedestal show the sequence of the battle, explained by verses originally written as a poem by Max Schneckenburger in 1840. Later, in 1854, the lyrics were wrapped into a haunting melody by composer Carl Wilhelm: “Die Wacht am Rhein” became a most fashionable hit that temporarily nearly reached the grave status of a national anthem.
So much so, that the university of Kyoto/Japan borrowed this melody for their hymn and the university at Yale/USA for their traditional song Bright College Years.
Travellers from all over the world flock in to pay Germania a curious visit. Her monument is situated near the small town of Ruedesheim – a popular international tourist attraction a short ride away from Hessen’s capital Wiesbaden and Frankfurt Rhein-Main-Airport. The Niederwalddenkmal, as it is officially named, is accessible by road or by cable cars from Ruedesheim and from the village of Assmannshausen.
Wines & food – fast & slow
There are ample outlets for simple snacks directly on the Germania hill or in the vicinity. Cuisine of supreme quality – accompanied by excellent local wines – is to be had in many restaurants and in a number of castles along the river. Bookings – especially for (corporate) groups – are advisable.
Copyright for all photos: Christina Feyerke