by Peggy DePersia, guest blogger
Heads up, history buffs,
If you are one of those people who is captivated by the vast reaches of the ancient Roman Empire and its civilizing influences or the powerful impact of a historical figure such as Charlemagne or Charles the Great, also called, by some, the “Father of Europe”, then a cruise on the Rhine River may be for you; though this is certainly not the only reason for such an adventure, if I may call it that.
As one may imagine, a leader and ruler in medieval times would have needed to be a skillful military strategist with ‘Strongholds’ through out his domain (so what’s new, right?) The Rhine, a highway of the medieval world and conduit for bringing together ideas, resources (including military) and influences from far flung regions was, naturally, desired for securing boundaries and related assets.
Is it any wonder, then, that this meandering body of water is peppered with fortifications in the form of fairy tale style castles along its route, particularly in the area of an especially beautiful part of the river known as the Rhine Gorge, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
These castles, romanticized as images in children’s picture books, were exceedingly picturesque perched, as they are, on their militarily strategic promontories. Do not let this fool you. The castles are, virtually without exception, cold, drafty, remote and often under siege. None-the-less, from the vantage point of a modern day traveler, cruising along the Rhine with a warm grog in hand on a cool fall day, the castled vistas are magical.
Another feature of this ongoing vital corridor of river life, and has been for hundreds of years, is its importance to agriculture, in particular, viticulture. With its unique microclimate, it is the perfect environment for the vineyards that line its hilly river banks. Not only charming to view, the vineyards in this region and the grapes grown there are an economic keystone to the area and, what would we do without Gewurztraminer? Just saying!
Peggy is a former high school art teacher. Her husband, Jerry, the photographer, is an architect. Both like sharing the fun of travel and its many related experiences. Jerry loves capturing those experiences from behind a lens and Peggy loves capturing them with words though ultimately, it’s about recording a shared vision and sharing time with people, places and things they love.