Road Trip SW Germany Day 2: Lorsch, Messel Pit, Upper Middle Rhein Valley

The second day started early, with us leaving Heidelberg at 8am to make our way to Lorsch in the state of Hessen. The ruins of the Lorsch Abbey were added to the UNESCO list in 1991. Founded in 764, it was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, only leaving the King’s Hall, the monastery church and the monastery wall, as ruins. We opted for the guided tour, which was a great decision, ’cause we got to go inside the King’s Hall. The remains of the frescoes inside are very impressive indeed. What was also impressive, was the varied history of the Abbey. At one point, it was even used as a tobacco warehouse!

The King’s Hall (on the left) as viewed from the Monastery church (on the right).

There is an experimental archeological lab near the abbey, but since we wanted to reach Koblenz before sun-down, we skipped it. Perhaps for another time. After the tour, we had a quick coffee, soaking in the cuteness of Lorsch. We then made our way towards the village of Messel near Darmstadt, to visit what would later become one of my most favorite World Heritage site (it is very difficult to have a favorite actually!)

Fossils and replica of fossils at the Messel Pit

The Messel Pit, is a treasure trove for well-preserved fossils from the Eocene era. During that time in Earth’s history, this area was surrounded by sub-tropical forests. We participated in a guided tour here too, and I was so glad, ’cause we got to touch real fossils! That was the best thing ever. There are several tours that they offer, and I would have liked to do the 3.5hour geological hike, but we opted to the shorter one.

View of the Rhine river, Bingen, Fort Fuerstenberg

Our final heritage site of the day, spans 65kms and was listed in 2002. We decided to start our drive along the Upper Middle Rhine Valley towards Koblenz, in Bingen where we had a wonderful lunch. We walked around Bingen and around the castle Klopp, then started our drive towards the ruins of the fort Fuerstenberg. The day was really wonderful, and the view from the fort was magnificent. There are several other castle and other ruins along the road. But we decided to stop just at this one. After walking around the ruins, and enjoying the view, we continued driving along the Rhine, stopping our journey in Koblenz.

Road Trip SW Germany Day 1: Maulbronn, Speyer, Heidelberg

In the summer of 2017, my partner and I decided to take a road trip across south-west Germany. The main goal of our trip? To cover all the UNESCO world heritage sites in this part of Germany. And yeah. That’s a thing. We decided after the trip to make this a yearly tradition, because you know. Why not?

Before I blab on about our journey, let me back up a bit. So why south-west Germany? Well, we live in the region, and were in desperate need of a vacation. But money was tight, so we thought well how about a good ol’ road trip. Turns out that they are not really popular here, which I found odd, cause people seem to love RVs here. And what do you do with any RV? Go on road trips!

Anyway, I digress. We loaded up my partner’s car with our back-packs, a six-pack of water and snacks, and were ready to go. Not to forget a special road trip playlist! Our trip lasted a grand total of 6 days. We covered 805km of Autobahns and Bundesstra├čen across 4 states, and visited 7 world heritage sites.

Day 1: Maulbronn-Speyer-Heidelberg

We started the day quiet early so that we could beat the rush-hour traffic on the Autobahn. Maulbronn monastery, which was listed as a World Heritage site in 1993, made a lasting impression on me. Although it was a sunny day, and I had my fleece on, it was still chilly inside the abbey for me. I kept wondering how the monks survived in the winter time there. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to walk around the abbey and soak in the old frescoes. I highly recommend taking the audio guide, which is also available in English.

Maulbronn Monastery

After spending some hours at the abbey, we continued northward towards Speyer. The seat of the Bishop of Speyer, the Speyer Cathedral was added to the heritage list in 1981. Consecrated in 1081, it is the largest Romanesque cathedral in the world. The red sandstone walls, the chapels and sculptures, the crypt and the organ, together make the cathedral a testament to Romanesque architecture in medieval Germany.

Speyer Cathedral

After visiting the Speyer Cathedral, or Dom as the Germans would say, we drove north-west to the beautiful city of Heidelberg, where we ate a lovely Lebanese dinner and spent the night. Although not a UNESCO world heritage site, it is part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a ‘City of Literature’.

Heidelberg Castle