31.05.2017 - 31.05.2017 16 °C
After our Virtual Tourist Euromeet-2017 in Kempten, I was glad to pay a visit to Idar-Oberstein to meet with my old friend Volker and his family who had been to Luhansk several years ago. He had invited me before, but I had no opportunity to arrive to Germany and to come to see his family and him. The happy day came in the long run.
I took several trains from Balingen, where I had stayed overnight, to reach Idar-Oberstein. I stayed at Opal Hotel in downtown Idar on Volker’s invitation. In fact, the city is a combination of two cities: Idar and Oberstein connected by the main street. The originally independent cities Idar and Oberstein were united in 1933 along with the villages of Algenrodt and Tiefenstein, and made up the city of Idar-Oberstein. The city extends for more than twenty kilometers from the east to the west. Therefore, it is a good idea to have a city map with you when you take a stroll and to know the bus routes. In other words, use your German, and you will not be lost.
I stayed mostly in Idar. It was good to take a stroll downtown thanks to the convenient location of Opal Hotel where I was staying.
We saw Felsenkirche - the Chapel-in-the-Rocks – on our way, a church hewn into a rock. Website: www.felsenkirche-oberstein.de
Volker also took me to Hunsrueck National Park, where we saw a tourist observation tower with a view of all the neighboring mountains and the old ruins.
We drove along the German Gemstone Route and visited a couple of medieval villages such as Herrstein.
The German Gemstone Route is a circular route connecting all sites in the region related to mining and processing of gemstones. Gemstone cutting dates back to the Middle. Today’s mineral deposits along the German Gemstone Route are not so rich since the minerals lie very deep and are hard to mine. Hence processing industry was developed and lots of stones were brought here from many mountain areas of the world. The world of gemstones is a great attraction for tourists here. They say there is no other place in the world presenting such concentration of all things connected with gemstones and jewellery.
The picturesque scenery and many interesting sights add to the charm of this area and make the German Gemstone Route a unique experience.
Here is the tourist information center: Tourist-Information Deutsche Edelsteinstrasse, Bruhlstr. 16, D-55756 Herrstein; phone: +49 6785 79104.
I made my own small journey of discovery along the German Gemstone Route. Thanks to my friend Volker, I saw a couple of great places there.
There are 15 sights along the German Gemstone Route:
1. Church in the Rock;
2. Museum Idar-Oberstein;
3. Jakob Bengel Industrial Monument;
4. Historical Gemstone Cutting Mill Biehl, Asbacherhutte;
5. German Gemstone Museum;
6. Gemstone Mines Steinkaulenberg;
8. Indoor playground Sternenland Idar-Oberstein;
9. Gemstone Waterwheel Grinding Mill;
10. Historical Copper Mine Fischbach;
11. Animal Park Wildenburg;
12. Medieval Herrstein;
13. Slate Mine Herrenberg;
14. Fossil Museum Bundenbach;
15. Celtic Settlement Altburg.
We dropped in at a gemstone cutting facility – a functioning stone-cutting mill, – another tourist attraction.
I decided to pay a visit to the German Gemstone Museum to see the world of stones and to take as many pictures there as I could. They were mostly for my wife who has a good collection of stones.
Volker’s uncle invited us for a farewell dinner to his house and cooked spiessbraten for us. We had a lot of fun over beer and Plum schnapps (“Zwetschgenbrand”). Spiessbraten: https://www.idar-oberstein.de/tourismus/kulinarisches/spiessbraten/ [https://www.idar-oberstein.de/tourismus/kulinarisches/spiessbraten/]
Website of the city: https://www.idar-oberstein.de/en/tourism/information/ [https://www.idar-oberstein.de/en/tourism/information/]
Here is a nice SWR movie about the city and its sights: a great movie
My friend Volker took me to some places on the German Gemstone Route and showed me around. In addition, he introduced me to his friends who have their businesses there: Asbacherhütte Edelsteinschlieferei (a stone grinding mill) where I met Ernstotto Biehl, and Camping Harfenmuele, where I met Timo the owner. Those two places are located on the forest outskirts of Moerschied, on the edge of Saar-Hunsrück National Park.
Ernstotto took us around the stone processing mill, told us interesting stories about the mill and showed us how polishers used to work in the old days. The mill stands on the Fischbach and is an old functioning stone cutting mill. It is a tourist attraction now and does not provide industrial production any more. They have a stone cutting room, an exhibition room where you can look at many samples of stone cutting work and a store, full of the finished samples of stone cutting and polishing, both big and small. It was a very informative and impressive tour. As Ernstotto says, “Sometimes the stone has something that looks like a man”.
The stone with its cut sections looks like a loaf of bread that you cut with your kitchen knife. It was really impressive to see the excellent arrangement of the tools inside the mill that uses a small stream to achieve the brilliant results of the stone cutters’ labour.
Website: Stone Processing MIll.
Camping Harfenmühle located at 2 Harfenmühle in Asbacherhuette, is a well-known tourist place in the area. We had some coffee with Timo who showed us around and told us about the forthcoming holiday season at his camping site. He was glad that almost every day of the season had been fully booked. Website: Camping Harfenmuehle
Camping Harfenmühle, Harfenmühle 2, 55758 Mörschied, tel. +49 6786 1304.
The main subject of the German Gemstone Route are of course the gemstones. However, there are a lot of historical places along this route. My friend Volker took me to the town of Herrstein that is well-known through its "historical center". If you take a leisurely stroll through the village, you will be able to see 60 beautiful half-timbered houses and the town gate, grouped around the town hall and the church of Wehrkirch. Herrstein offers an unadulterated cityscape of the 15th-18th century.
We saw Hankel Fountain (“Hankelbrunne” in German). The word “Hankel” was the name for the residents of Herrstein. It comes from the first name Johann-Karl, that was frequently mentioned there, and was abbreviated in Hann-Karl and finally Hankel. In the so-called "Hankelbrunnen" in Herrstein, the adult figure represents the "Hankel". The boy, who splatters him with water, symbolizes that the "Hankel" was often exposed to the tears of his surroundings. The figures of the fountain were created by the artist Hans-Ulrich Pauly from Veitsrodt and were cast at Kunstgiesserei Rincker in 1983.
Volker told me that Herrstein had became especially popular through its traditional (since 1988) "Schinderhannes-Räuberfest" – Schinderhannes Robbers Festival – that is held on every second weekend of September. The festival is named after a famous robber Johannes Bueckler (1777-1803) whose nickname was “Schinderhannes” and who lived and operated in that area along with his comrades-in-arms. He is sometimes called "Germany’s Robin Hood".
During the festival, the entire town center becomes the arena of the festival” the market, costumes parade, performances, handicraft workshops: potters, toy makers, bookbinders, soap makers, basket makers, shoemakers, trimmers, wood carvers, glassblowers; farmers with fragrant wood oven bread, cheese, homemade sausage, jams, honey, oils, juices and fruit, smoked fish, potatoes, vegetables and juicy fruit – all this variety enchants visitors of the festival. Here is a movie from the festival: Festival Video
Next time I should plan my visit in the first half of September and see more places like Herrstein !
On my last day of stay in Idar-Oberstein, before our farewell dinner, I decided to pay a visit to the German Gemstone Museum that was round the corner from the hotel I was staying at. The museum boasts of about 10,000 exhibits of different size, shape and style that are exhibited in numerous halls on three floors. I bought a photo permit and hence I could take tons of pictures of those exhibits to show my family and friends.
I was really overwhelmed by the variety of stones exhibited in the museum halls. The mansion itself that houses the museum is a historical architectural landmark. It was built at the end of the 19th century during the period called ”Gründerzeit”.
There is a gemstone store on the first floor. This is where you can choose what you wish:
• precious stones;
• chain workshop (creating and repairing);
• catalogues of special exhibitions;
If this museum is your No.1 destination in Idar-Oberstein (which is fair enough), then take bus 301 and get off at “Börse” (Exchange) bus stop.
Here is a nice Youtube video about the museum: Gemstone Museum
The museum address: Deutsches Edelsteinmuseum, Hauptstrasse 118, 55473 Idar-Oberstein.