Visiting Waldhof-Falkenstein: memories and illusions from Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
Across the Our Valley from the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the imagination screams
Set on a hill, the partially ruined stones of Burg Falkenstein, in Waldhof-Falkenstein, make for imposing views in this area of the Bitburg-Prüm district of Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate (German: Rheinland-Pfalz).
Its origins are somewhat shrouded in mystery. The original castle is thought to be about 1000 years old, while its ruined tower was built in the 15th century. In legend or history, the counts of Falkenstein long ago ceased to have permanent sway over the castle; French troops are known to have sacked the castle, and in the 19th century it was held by Prussia — which also held a garrison in Luxembourg City during much of that century — before passing into private ownership.
There is an obscure legend associated with the castle of a count in league with the devil, who eloped with a fair maiden. I looked at the sinister, craggy ruins atop a hill from which a path leads down to a bridge out of Germany altogether and into the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg at Bivels across the heavily wooded Our Valley. Remembering this impression, it all seems too good to be true...(or too bad, depending on which aspect of the metaphor appeals most to the imagination).
All in the imagination...
Few places that I have visited at a river crossing replete with historical allusion have left me with an overwhelming, irrational, but real sense of intriguing unease, as did Burg Falkenstein.
All in the imagination, of course...
Also worth seeing:
A few kilometers south of Waldhof-Falkenstein, be sure to visit nearby Vianden on the Luxembourg side of the border, with its Victor Hugo museum and its castle on a hill.
Nearby Stolzembourg, with its castle, situated over the Luxembourg side of the Our River from Waldhof-Falkenstein, is also worth seeing. Like many places in the Grand Duchy — and amazingly to many outsiders — this locality with less than 200 inhabitants has three spelling variants of its name, reflecting Luxembourg's three languages: Stolzebuerg (Letzebuergesch), Stolzembourg (French) and Stolzemburg (German).
How to get there: Lufthansa flies to Frankfurt-am-Main, from where car hire is available. The nearest large international airport is Luxembourg (Aéroport de Luxembourg), at Findel. For North American travellers making the London, England area their touring base, airlines flying to Luxembourg include Luxair (from London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport) and CityJet (from London City Airport). Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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