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
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
period about 285 million years ago, in a time of much volcanic activity, as
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
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
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.