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Kirn in the Nahe valley

Kirn is a pretty little town in the upper Nahe area with a remarkable old centre containing half-timbered houses from the 16th and 18th centuries, a historic market square and a city hall built in 1769 (a former Piarist monastery). First mentioned in records from the year 841, Kirn is dwarfed by the Kyrburg (10th century). It was once the seat of the Wildgrafen Earls, and later, the Earls of Salm-Kyrburg. The market square is used frequently for the traditional Kirner Markets, some of the biggest in the region. Kirn –first officially documented in 841- is towered over by the Kyrburg (=Kyr fortress). This was probably built by Earl Emicho I from the Gaugrafen family of Emichonen from 960-970. In the 12th century it was seat of the Wild- and Rhine Earls and later of the Prince of Salm-Kryburg until it was destroyed by French troops in 1734. The Kirner "Dolomites" (which are actually granite) in the Hahnenbach valley are a popular destination for climbers. About 2 kilometres downstream from Kirn lies the nature preserve "Hellberg" with the most imposing boulder scree north of the Alps. The Hellberg was formed in the Permian period about 285 million years ago, in a time of much volcanic activity, as an impressive intrusion block under the earth's surface. Throughout the following millions of years, it was gradually exposed. Weathering of the extremely hard rock happened extremely slowly. Due to the very steep slope, the boulders and debris are constantly in motion. The shady north-facing site makes this an extremely cold and inhospitable place for plant life. In the upper, almost non-vegetated area, only lichen can survive, while in the lower lying areas, large areas of moss, perennial grass, Saxifraga paniculata as well as many other types of alpine plants can be found. Those who wish to find out more about the geology of the region can visit the "Geological Information Path" near Hochstetten-Dhaun (nearby). The individual phases of the earth's history, for example of the Kirner area with a selection of minerals typical to it, are shown along a 3.5km path.

An excursion to be recommended is that to Wartenstein castle in the Hahnenbach valley, built in 1357 by Knight Tilmann of Steinkallenfels. The current castle design is due to remodelling in 1704 and 1728, after the original one had been destroyed by French troops in 1688. During recent renovation works the original building material was retained, and used for new purposes. Although it is only possible to get there by climbing on foot, the view from the terrace over the Steinkallenfels and into the Nahe valley makes it worth the effort (the picture above only gives a partial impression). Another good hike would be from Kirnsulzbach to Bremerberg, whose steep rock faces lead 150 metres above the Nahe valley to the summit. From there one not only has a wide view of the Nahe valley, but also finds the remains of a Celtic ring wall ("Schlackenwall").This is located within view to the ring wall at "Regelsköpfchen" over Fischbach. In Fischbach you can also see a historic copper mine, so ore was already being mined for here during the Bronze age (2000-800 B.C.). There are indications that the copper mine in Fischbach was already active in Roman times. The first documented mention dates back to 1473. Although the mine was abandoned due to falling profitability, its huge scale is spectacular and worth visiting.

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