Southern Wine Road

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Home Page > Travelogues > Germany > Rheinland-Pfalz > Deutsche Weinstrasse > Southern Wine Road

Other Chapters in the Weinstrasse section:  [ Southern Wine Road ] Trifelsland ] St. Martin ] Landau ] Neustadt ] Bad Duerkheim ] Leiningerland ]

Germany

State of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland and Palatinate)

Gallery of the Southern Wine Road -- Lots of Neat Towns 

Germany

State of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland and Palatinate)

The Wine Road begins at the French border in the tiny wine towns of Schweigen and Rechtenbach, marked symbolically with a concrete monument known as the Weintor (the "Wine Gate").  From there, the first twenty miles or so follow the foothills of the Pfalz mountain range, connecting a series of little hillside towns overlooking the rolling terrain of the vineyards.

These towns all have a lot in common.  Most of the residences are half-timber, and many of them are decorated wonderfully with an array of colorful flowers in the summer.  The wine houses are (or appear to be) family-owned operations that combine the winery with an inn and restaurant.  Several of the towns have a single landmark that distinguishes the town and identifies its history.

This gallery describes six such towns along the first twenty miles of the Wine Road beginning at the Weintor itself.  

Weintor at Schweigen Smalltown Festival at Oberotterbach
Schweigen and Rechtenbach -- Pictured here is the famous Weintor, erected in the 1930s when a suffering German wine industry decided to band together several towns in the Rhineland-Palatinate and form the German Wine Road as a way of encouraging tourism.  The Weintor marks the beginning of the Weinstrasse, and is surrounded by winemaking exhibits and several local wine bars and restaurants.  The cuisine here is Pfälzer, which is similar to Alsatian -- meat and potatoes, but done wonderfully (especially with a good local white!) Oberotterbach -- This little town of perhaps 1,000 people was having a local festival when I arrived, such as the flower booth shown here beneath the town church.  This region is largely Protestant, and each town has a single small church in the center, mostly humble structures of brick.  Nearly all the rest of the old architecture is half-timber, and very decorative.  As I wandered around, I noticed that the vast majority had congregated in the town's two main wine bars to escape what was a humid 90-degree afternoon.
Fortified Gothic Church at Doerrenbach Decorative Half-Timber Houses in Doerrenbach
Dörrenbach -- Of the six towns featured here, this one was the must-see.  It's unique feature is this structure, a medieval Gothic church that is fully fortified, complete with corner towers and an external wall (which this picture shows as having been decorated with roses).   The center of Dörrenbach also had the most decorative of the half-timber houses I saw.  These are two examples, though my digital camera doesn't pick out the details adequately.  Several of the beams on the left house are actually carved structures.  Dörrenbach's Town Hall was the most decorative half-timber building I've ever seen (and is boasted as the best such structure in the entire Pfalz region, I'll grant that as probably true -- it's fabulous).
Royal Castle from Bad Bergzabern Fabulous Wine Bar and Restaurant in Gleiszellen
Bad Bergzabern -- This was the largest town on this stretch, and it too had some unique structures.  This picture shows a royal palace that is now a regional government building.  Equally impressive is the Gasthaus zum Engel (Angel's Inn) that had to have the weirdest shape of any inn I've ever seen.  Bad Bergzabern's was much more industrialized and commercialized of the surrounding towns, but it retained a lot of its small-town charm, particularly its charming market square underneath the town's Protestant Church. Gleiszellen-Gleishorbach -- These two towns are each barely a neighborhood big, but they were fabulous.  This picture shows a segment of the Winzergasse (Vintner's Alley) in Gleiszellen showing one of its Weinguts (Private Winery, more or less).  The whole Winzergasse is set up like this, a short narrow cobblestone street lined with such establishments.
Vine Covered Street in Gleishorbach Schloss Landeck above Klingenmuenster
Meanwhile, Gleishorbach seemed more residential, but this was the best shot I took of a common feature among the streets in the region.  You can see how the residents connected wires over the street to let the vines grow like arches.  Some towns seem to have gotten this better than others, and Gleishorbach got it about the best. Klingenmünster -- The final stop on this chapter is among the first with a castle on the hills overlooking the town and its surrounding vineyards.  The Schloss Landeck is pictured here, a medieval structure that has been renovated and refurbished as a tourist attraction, complete with restaurant and wine bar.  Castles like this become more common as one travels further North on the German Wine Road.

Other Chapters in the Weinstrasse section:  [ Southern Wine Road ] Trifelsland ] St. Martin ] Landau ] Neustadt ] Bad Duerkheim ] Leiningerland ]

Trips taken 7-8 June 2003 -- Page last updated 01 September 2006 -- (C) 2002 Tom Galvin

Useful Links:
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Deutsche Weinstrasse Home Page (in German) -- http://www.deutsche-weinstrasse.de/ 

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English-Language Page on German Wine Road -- http://www.germany-tourism.de/e/2837.html 

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Bad Bergzabern Home Page (in German) -- http://www.bad-bergzabern.de 

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Dörrenbach Home Page (in German) -- http://www.doerrenbach.de 

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Gleiszellen-Gleishorbach Home Page (in German) -- http://www.gleiszellen.de  

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Klingenmuenster Home Page (in German) -- http://www.klingenmuenster.de 

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Oberotterbach Home Page (in German) -- http://www.oberotterbach.de 

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Schweigen-Rechtenbach Home Page (in German) -- http://www.schweigen-rechtenbach.de 

 

   
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