There was an early buffet dinner this evening to accommodate those wanting to go to the Christmas Market in the evening and for the group of us that wanted to take an optional tour to Kloster Eberbach in nearby Eltville. I elected to take the tour as I didn’t want to go to the Christmas Market alone at night. We are docked in Rudesheim, a city I have visited before.
It was a relatively short drive to the beautiful Abbey (Kloster in German). The first monastery on the site was started in 1116 by Augustinians. The Bishop bestowed it on the Benedictines in 1131 and it became a Cistercian Abbey in 1136. The prosperity of the Abbey was founded in its wine production. It the old wine storage room where we made our first stop. Half of our tour group will be guided through the Abbey first; our group was starting with the wine tasting. I enjoyed all the wine, but it was rather sweet for my taste. Oddly the store was closed during our visit so you were unable to make any purchases. Perhaps a missed opportunity for the Abbey.
The former storage facilities was very atmospheric. The had (empty) wine barrels with lovely lit candles on them as the room’s only illumination. The candles had actually served a purpose in former times to detect air or gas levels in the room; flickering flames were the early warning system. There was also a mold that grew on the arches supporting the ceiling that feed off the alcohol in the room. Although wine is no longer stored in the barrels, they do enough tastings in this space that the (safe) mold continues to thrive.
After our tasting we toured the Abbey by candlelight. I loved the cloister and the chapter meeting room where the monks sat in rows determined by rank and years of service. This was the only place in the monastery where they spoke. We also toured the lay brothers’ refectory where 12 traditional wine presses are on display. These non-noble men who committed themselves to the monastery did the heavy physical labor and dirty jobs associated with the operation of the Abbey.
The Abbey was severely damaged during the 30 Years’ War and the monastery was heavily looted. Only 20 members of the order returned in 1635 to revitalize it. However, the 18th century brought economic prosperity through the wine production. The Abbey’s decline started with the French Revolution and the religious presence ended in 1803. The facilities served as an asylum for some period of time. In the 1980s, the Abbey was used to film interior shots for the Sean Connery/Christian Slater film, The Name of the Rose, an historical Mystery story. Today it is a wedding venue, the site of an annual music festival, and offers regular wine tastings.
Our last stop was a highly decorated room where the Abbey officials met with lay persons. There was lovely ceiling decorations and a few remaining pieces of wood furniture. However the room was set up for a film crew and we couldn’t stay long. I believe a remake of The Name of the Rose is in the works.
It was actually dark enough on our way back to the bus that we got a bit lost. All accounted for in the end though and we went back to the ship where some people decided to walk into town. I was ready to pack it in and be ready for shopping in the market in the morning.
Since I had been to Rudesheim before, in the morning I just walked into town along the waterfront and enjoyed the markets. I did add to our ceramic house collection here with a town gate that I hadn’t seen before. The store where we bought these items at on our last visit was closed, but I found the gate in one of the market stalls. It will make an excellent Christmas present for Boris. I enjoyed seeing the city decorated for the holidays. All around town were large ceramic Santas just begging you to take a picture with them.
Its a charming city and always worth a visit. Just walk down the narrow lanes and you’ll find shops, restaurants, and hotels all in compact traditional buildings. There is also a lovely square near the church. I didn’t make it that far on our last visit. They had a large outdoor nativity. All of the markets we have visited have featured children’s rides; this one had a small train.
We traveled further upriver and docked. Here we could stay in town or take a trip to Wiesbaden for the Twinkling Star Market.
Wiesbaden’s mineral springs have made the location a “spa” destination since Roman times. It had its heyday in the 19th century. Its Marktkirche, a brick Neo-Gothic church, was built in 1862 to accommodate a population that had doubled in the last twenty years. Marktkirche sits in Wiesbaden’s central Schlossplatz which is the site of the city’s beautiful night market and our destination.
This was a wonderful market, great shopping and unique and varied food choices. I met up with Gillian and she shared with me a few of her finds. I did some copycatting on her purchases. I loved the lighting, the huge Christmas tree, and the fantastic setting. It quickly grew dark and the real beauty of the Twinkling Star Market shown. It lives up to its name.
I did stop by a few of the city’s main attractions that were nearby. I saw the outdoor skating rink, the Staatstheater (The Hessian State Theater), and the Kurhaus (the Spa House). Just the walk down the main lit street was magical. That makes two very special nighttime events in a row. Heidleburg is tomorrow.