All you loyal readers of my post on Mozart’s Così fan tutte in Freiberg might recall that in Germany there are “numerous place names ending in -berg (= mountain or hill) or -burg (= castle),” and for us poor foreigners it can sometimes be tricky to remember which is which.
As I pointed out in that post: “Of the German cities that have opera houses, Annaberg, Heidelberg and Nürnberg have mountain names, whereas Altenburg, Augsburg, Coburg, Duisburg, Hamburg, Magdeburg, Neubrandenburg, Quedlinburg, Oldenburg, Regensburg and Würzburg all have castle names.”
Well, this section of the Main Valley Bicycle Route is another illustration of the berg/burg problem, since it goes from Miltenberg to Aschaffenburg by way of Klingenberg and Obernburg.
And it doesn’t help much if you know that a particular town actually has a castle or a mountain, because river-towns in central and southern Germany typically have both. Miltenberg, for example, has a castle called Mildenburg (with a -d- instead of a -t- in the middle) on a steep hill called the Greinberg overlooking the river.
Miltenberg was a prosperous trading town in medieval times, especially in the 12th and 13th centuries, but according to my cycling guidebook: “After the unrest of the Thirty Years’ War and even more so after its incorporation into the Kingdom of Bavaria in the 19th century, Miltenberg was suddenly off the beaten track and has thus retained its tranquil old town with handsome half-timbered houses and a historic market square.” (Translated from the bikeline guidebook Main-Radweg.)
Back in the 1970s or 80s I once spent a day in Miltenberg with my colleagues from work, when we went there for our annual staff outing. We spent most of the day walking around the town and up to the castle, and trying the local wines. In the evening we returned to Frankfurt on a chartered cruise ship on the Main River.
This palace in Kleinheubach (which looks like it means ‘small-hay-brook’) is on the left bank of the Main River just below Miltenberg. It is the traditional family residence of the Princes of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg. The Löwenstein family still owns the palace and lives in the East Wing, but the rest of the building has been developed as a hotel for corporate seminars and events, with 62 bedrooms and 21 “high-tech meeting rooms” of various sizes. It is now managed by a French company called Châteauform’, which also runs numerous venues for up-market corporate events in France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.
In Erlenbach, on the right bank of the Main River, there is a company best known as the Bavarian Shipbuilding Company (formerly Schellenberger), now officially called Erlenbacher Schiffswerft Maschinen u. Stahlbau GmbH (= Erlenbach shipyard machines and steel construction Inc.), which has been building and repairing commercial river craft since 1652. I took this photo from Wörth, on the other side of the river.
In case the Main River should overflow its banks again, as it has done several times in recent decades, these floodgates in Wörth will be shut to keep the water from flooding the town. This seems to be a somewhat different concept from the one I saw being built in Freudenstadt the day before, but both include mobile elements that can be used to heighten the walls in case of severe flood warnings. The authorities in Wörth say that a team of five people can close all 39 gates, doors and shutters and install the mobile dam elements within five hours.
Aschaffenburg is a city of some 70,000 people, on the Main River 38 km downstream from Miltenberg and 51 km upstream from Frankfurt. Like Mainz and Lohr, Aschaffenburg is one of the cities where the Main River intersects the 50th parallel of north latitude.
My photos in this post are from 2004. I revised the text in 2022.
See more posts on the Main Valley Bicycle Route.