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My first visit to family in Germany where my Son-in-Law is stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base in South West Germany,

I was fortunate to be shown around to local castles with the last weekend being spent in Bruges, Belgium. Midweek I hopped a train for the day to Cochem to see a castle and just enjoy the day,

The first morning, I accompanied my daughter and grandson to Himmerod Abbey.

Final reconstruction was completed in 1960 after the assets of the monastery were confiscated by the National Socialists in 1934

Founded in 1134 by St. Bernard and going through good times and bad for the next 883 years, it was closed due to the dwindling number of Monks and financial concerns. Only 6 Monks remained when it was closed in 2017. The Monastery is once again open and a part of the Archdiocese of Trier. Click here for the history on the Monasteries website if you either use Google Chrome OR speak fluent German.

Lying in ruins a number of times over the centuries, as Monasteries fell in and out of favor,

the final reconstruction was completed in 1960 after being halted in 1934 by the National Socialists Party who confiscated the Monasteries assets. Numerous political and national factions controlled the region throughout its history,

Click on the photograph above to be taken to my Gallery of Abtei Himmerod.


The next morning off we went to Trier, home of the furthest North structures from the Roman Empire and the oldest Cathedral in Germany. After getting the messiest hot dog I have ever had for lunch we set off to explore.


First place we headed was the Cathedral but in the Market Square I noticed a gate. Asking my daughter what it was she admittedly was at a loss so in we went to explore. Below is what we found beyond a few century old headstones and crypts. The church of St Gangolf. A beautiful, quiet place built over a thousand years ago and the second oldest church in Trier. Gothic in nature and lit by natural light, Simple yet elegant,


Following St Gangolf we moved on to the High Cathedral of St. Peter also known as the Cathedral of Trier. Said to have been commissioned by Emporer Contantine the Great in the 4th century it was left in ruins by the Franks, then rebuilt. In 883 it was destroyed by the Vikings. Rebuilding began in the 10th century with the final Apse not being completed until 1196. Throughout the centuries the church continued to be rebuilt and embellished, according to the fashion of the period with Gothic vaults, Renaissance sculptures and Baroque chapels, but the overall style of the building remains Romanesque with a Roman core.

The Seamless Robe of Jesus, the robe said to have been worn by Jesus shortly before his crucifixion, is the best-known relic of the cathedral. It is kept in an annex chapel a peek of can be seen below.

Seemingly contained in the same structure with a separate entrance is the

Church of our Lady, built in the 13th century and standing upon the original Roman Columns many feet below the surface.

A Roman double church originally stood here. The southern portion was torn down around 1200 and completely replaced by the Early Gothic Church of Our Lady.The exact date of the start of construction can no longer be determined, however a painted inscription inside on a column in the church reads: "The construction of this church was started in 1227 and ended in 1243" however, it is currently thought construction began in 1230 by Archbishop of Trier Theodoric II Around 1260, the building was probably finished. In 1492, a high peak was placed on the central tower, which was named because of its high technology and degree of craftsmanship The high peak was destroyed in a storm in 1631. Subsequently a hipped roof was built, which was destroyed in the Second World War. It was first replaced in 1945 by a roof and then by a steeper one in 2003.

The Cathedral and The Church of Our Lady entrance

Cathedral of Trier to the right

Click on any of the photos to be taken to the Trier Gallery


Porta Nigra

The Black Gate built in the 2nd century by the Romans and the only Roman gate North of the Alps.


The following day I was on my own. After being driven to the train station I was off to Cochem, home of another castle. Reichsburg Cochem, the Imperial Casttle, Cochem

It is not the castle that originally stood there in the 12th century. That castle had a long and colorful history until French King Louis XIV had his troops obliterate it in 1689. The castle remained a colorful stone ruin for 180 years until wealthy Berlin businessman Louis Ravené decided to buy the ruins and rebuild the castle in 1868. But he was not interested in restoring it to its original Romanesque style and condition. He had his architects create a neo-Gothic castle that could serve as a summer residence for his family. Hence all the wood including detailed carvings and intarsia.

The castle can only be seen by going on a tour. No tours in English were scheduled during my visit so I went along on a German speaking tour with the guide throwing me a sentence of English here and there. An English guide book was provided so I could follow along. Worked out well, The downside for a photographer was the tour moves along at a predetermined pace so many of the photos were taken on the fly. Clicking on the photo below will take you to the gallery, If you ever get there make sure to stop by the small restaurant at the castle and ask for apple strudel,


My final day before a road trip to Bruges, Belgium. We took a quick trip to Manderscheid to see the ruins of two castles. I only visited the lower castle. Needless to say, once again they were built nearly 1000 years ago and have been torn down, knocked down, reconstructed and knocked down again. It was interesting to see signs in the stone walls indicating what used to be a doorway, wall, etc in an entirely different structure. Have a look at the gallery by clicking on the below picture. A lot of conjecture, it seems, as to who destroyed it when.

Next up? Bruges, Belgium to follow.

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