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Bingen at the mouth of the Nahe in the Rhine

The city of Bingen, at the junction of the Rhine and the Nahe, came into being as a strategically important Roman garrison on the Roman road Via Ausonia which led from Mainz to Trier. The city is situated there where the road rose up into the Hunsrück. The attached fortification ("Castellum Bingium") was located on the Kloppberg, pretty much where you find the Fortress Klopp today. The houses of the little Roman town "Bingium" surrounded the fortress close to the city walls for protection. Due to its mild climate in the first three centuries A.D., the region was a popular place to live, not only for aristocrats but also rich business men, highly ranked military staff and senators from Mainz ("Moguntiacum") which was a day's journey away. Witness bares for instance the "Villa rustica" with a representative house of the gentry, bath complexes and numerous auxiliary buildings that are currently being excavated in the Binger forest. This period ended with the conquest of the Nahe-Hunsrück area by the Alemanni in 355. It was here, on the northern banks of the Nahe, that Benedictine Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) founded her monastery upon the grave of the holy Rupertus. It is remarkable to note that in her "Physica", Hildegard von Bingen includes more than 250 plants and many folk remedies and "natural" medicinal methods of treatment.

On a distinct hill in the midst of the city lies the medieval Klopp Castle offering a beautiful outlook over the mouth of the Nahe in the Rhine. Klopp Castle with its historic museum, together with the Mäuseturm ("Mice Tower"), at the narrows of the Rhine (the "loch" of Bingen) and the late gothic Basilica of St. Martin (first recorded in 793) represent the landmarks of the city. The rapids at the loch of Bingen were caused by several quartzite barriers. Following the emergence of steam boat travel, a wider channel was blasted here some 150 years ago. The stone "Drusus Bridge" from the 11th century spans the Nahe and connects Bingen and Bingerbrück. The Rochus Chapel is also worth a visit. It was donated in the year 1666 as a plague chapel. The Rochus festival, honours the saint who, according legend, caught the plague himself while caring for others with the disease. Goethe wrote an essay about this.

The picture above depicts the view from the observation tower on the Rochus Mountain above Bingen. From here, you have a vast overview over the city Bingen, the Nahe mouth and the Rhine, up until the steep slopes of the Rhenish slate mountains. This mountain range forms a natural barrier for the Rhine. The deep and narrow meanders of the Rhine meet with the foothills of the Hunsrück and finally reach the lowlands and the sea after 50km of picturesque landscape. The Rochus Mountain with the Rochus chapel is a rewarding destination giving a 360º view to all sides: south from the softly declining vineyards and the plain of the Kreuznacher Bay, North and West to the forested altitudes of the Hunsrück.

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