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Traben-Trarbach on the Mosel

On its way between Trier and Koblenz the Mosel river traces three long and narrow loops (at Trittenheim, Traben-Trarbach and Zell), which cause the river to make a huge detour. The peninsula that is formed by the Mosel loop at Traben-Trarbach with its district Traben was of military importance as early as the start of the 18th century, as shipping on the Mosel could be perfectly controlled from here. That is why in 1687 the French "Sun King" Louis XIV (1643-1715) started building the gigantic fortification "Mont Royal" immediately after conquering the Mosel region. The incomplete construction was however destroyed by French demolition workers less than 10 years later, as this was a condition of the peace agreement in the Dutch Ryswick. Today only a few remnants of this fortification still exist on the "Mont Royal", and it requires thorough knowledge of the surroundings to be able to visualise the former massive size of the fortification.

Due to its geographically sheltered location on a peninsula Traben was already populated in prehistoric times. Finds from Roman and Franconian times are displayed in the local Middle Mosel museum. There the development of the city and its surroundings are well documented by a variety of exhibits from past centuries. Traben was first officially documented in 820, whereas Trarbach obviously developed much later, and gained its city rights in 1359. The Traben Parish Church is worth a visit, with a Romanesque West Tower from the second half of the 12th century, a South Chancel from the 13th century, as well as remains of the Trarbach city fortification from the 14th century. Today Trarbach is a city famous for its wine and tourism, on both sides of the Middle Mosel, at the head of the Mosel loop. The formerly independent districts of Traben (left of the Mosel) and Trarbach (right of the Mosel) were joined in 1904, and became the twin city Traben-Trarbach with a united administration. The two towns are connected by a bridge, which was built in 1899. This bridge has an unusual and historically interesting Belle Époque gate that was designed by the famous Art Noveau architect Bruno Möhring. There are other art-nouveau style buildings by the same architect at various locations in the town centre. They can be viewed in a two-hour tour of the town called "Tracing the Belle Époque".

On the Hunsrück side of the Mosel, high above the Trarbach district, the Grevenburg fortress emerges on a steep rock spur as the symbol of the city. It was built around 1350 by the Sponheim Earl Johann III as his residence in the "Back County", and was supposed to replace the decayed Altburg fortress a few kilometres away. The latter is located on a mountain ridge of the Hunsrück that falls steeply down to the Mosel between Trarbach and Enkirch, and it was the residence of the Earl of Sponheim for more than 200 years. The Starkenburg fortress made its mark on history because the young widow Countess Loretta of Sponheim –the mother of Earl Johan III- incarcerated the elector and archbishop Balduin of Luxemburg in order to enforce her ownership of several Sponheim possessions. On the 7th of July 1328, Balduin finally conceded the respective rights to her through the so-called "Atonement Contract", with which the "Birkenfeld Dispute" was officially resolved. With the additional acquisition of the ransom Loretta could purchase and extend "Frauenburg Castle" on a picturesque site in the upper Nahe valley, not far from Birkenfeld. She move there in 1331, and as a consequence it became her official place of work and the administrative center of the "Office Frauenburg". Here she passed away in 1345, not yet 50 years old.

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