"The Rabbi of Bacharach" Top 5 Page for this destination Bacharach by Nemorino
Bacharach Travel Guide: 127 reviews and 352 photos
"On the lower reaches of the Rhine, where the banks of the great river start to lose their smiling countenance, where hills and cliffs with their audacious ruined castles rise defiantly exuding a wilder and sterner dignity, there lies, like an eerie legend from a bygone era, the gloomy and ancient town of Bacharach."
So begins the unfinished novel The Rabbi of Bacharach by the nineteenth century German writer Heinrich Heine (1797-1856).
"But the walls of Bacharach were not always so decayed and crumbling, with their toothless battlements and blind turrets in whose cracks the wind blows and the sparrows nest. In these poverty-stricken, repulsive muddy lanes which one sees through the ruined tower, there did not always reign that dreary silence which is only now and then broken by crying children, scolding women and bellowing cows. These walls were once proud and strong, and these lanes were alive with a fresh, free life, power and pomp, joy and sorrow, much love and much hatred." (My translation.)
Heinrich Heine was not the only nineteenth century author to discover Bacharach and the Rhine Valley. In 1800 Clemens von Brentano wrote the original Lore Lay ballad about a sorceress who lived in Bacharach.
In 1840 the great French novelist Victor Hugo, author of Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, spent three days in Bacharach and wrote an enthusiastic description in his book Le Rhin, first published in 1842. (More about these folks in my General Tips on this page.)
Update: I have also translated some of Victor Hugo’s observations from the same book, Le Rhin, for my Liège intro page and my tips on the Théâtre Royal de Liège, the Palace of the Prince Bishops and the Liège Museum of Public Transport, telling of Hugo’s travels by stagecoach.
When I went to Bacharach in June 2010, however, my intention was not to investigate 13th century anti-Semitism or revel in 19th century Romanticism, but rather to take part in a benign and uniquely 21st century custom that for obvious reasons was completely unknown in previous centuries, namely a VirtualTourist meeting.
This was a very small meeting suggested by Mark (travelfrosch) and Sara (sarams) from New York, who had brought their six-month-old baby Ryan to Europe for the first time. I came up from Frankfurt and Ingrid (trekki) came up from Darmstadt. We had a very nice meal together at the Kranenturm, and then a pleasant walk around Bacharach with lots of conversation. (More about this on my Restaurant Tip on this page.)
The International Rhine Cycle Route starts at the source of the river, in Andermatt*, Switzerland, and follows along... more travel advice
The K-D ships on the Rhine have three sets of controls, one in a large elevated cockpit at the front end of the ship... more travel advice
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