Monday, July 7, 2014

The Medieval Market Square of Bernkastel-Kues

The German town of Bernkastel-Kues is located in the Moselle Valley, halfway between Cochem and Trier. This attractive little town, often referred to as "The Pearl of the Moselle", is known for some of the finest wines produced in Germany. The town is located on the very edge of the river tightly enclosed by some dramatic steep-slope vineyards. The town is actually divided in two, with Bernkastel to the east of river Moselle and Kues to the west. The villages are joined by a bridge.

The town’s major attraction is the medieval marketplace surrounded by well preserved gabled timber-frame houses from the 17th century. Especially well-known is the very small and narrow house called Spitzhäuschen (the Pointed House), which dates back to 1416, and whose ground floor is much narrower than the upper floors that gives the house a wobbly look. The Heinz'sche Haus (Heinz'sche House) is another richly embellished half-timbered house and one of the oldest buildings in market square. It now serves as the premises of an attractive wine tavern.

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Bernkastel was awarded town status in 1291 at the instigation of the Archbishop of Trier, Boemund I. The first town hall was probably built shortly afterwards. The facade of the new town hall, built in 1608, is a magnificent example of German late Renaissance architectural design.

Above the constituent community of Bernkastel lie the Castle Landshut ruins, a former summer residence of the Archbishops of Trier that was destroyed by fire on 8 January 1692. It today serves as a popular lookout point over the Moselle valley. Also worth seeing is the only town gate that is still standing, the Graacher Tor.

Beyond the mediaeval marketplace, the town has several squares at its disposal - the Platz am Bärenbrunnen (“Square at the Bear’s Fountain”) and the Karlsbader Platz (“Karlovy Vary Square” – named after the partner town, which is called Karlsbad in German) opened in July 2005. The Doctorbrunnen (“Doctor Fountain”) depicts scenes of the old legend about a local wine, the famous "Bernkasteler Doctor". Another well-known point of interest is the Late Gothic St. Nikolaus-Hospital (Cusanusstift), an Electoral complex of Nikolaus von Kues.

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Sources: Wikipedia / Germany Christmas Market

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