|A beautiful town
located in the
Nahe River Valley
|1Teenage me at the "Old Castle"
above the Church in the Rocks,
the "New Castle" in the background.
|1Church in the Rocks
seen from Main Street
|1Oberstein's famous Landmark,
THE CHURCH IN THE ROCKS
|A border marker from 1590|
|*I currently live in Omaha, Nebraska, and while it's an OK place for me to be,
I've never developed the "relationship" with Omaha that one has with the
place where one was born and raised. I consider Council Bluffs, Iowa,
my "second home" -- but that's a whole 'nother story ...
1(footnote): Photographs from my private collection. All rights reserved.
Other photographs taken from postcards, no copyright indicated.
|Before and After:
The Nahe River still runs beneath the highway.
I can't help mourning the old bridges and the sight of the river.
The "Goatsbridge" above was, I believe, the oldest Bridge in town. It too
fell victim to "progress." Strictly for pedestrian traffic, it could be a scary
experience to cross during high-water season because the waters of the
Nahe just about reached the bottom of the bridge.
|... once upon a time ....
Castle Bosselstein, a.k.a. 'the old castle' above the church, is first mentioned in historical documents from the year 1197. It was abandoned about 1600 following a siege and fell into ruin.
Castle Oberstein, a.k.a. 'the new castle' was built around 1320. It was partially destroyed by the French in 1680, and a fire in 1855 laid further ruin to the castle. Parts of it were restored and housed a youth hostel until a few years ago. A group of citizens is now actively collecting funds to stop further deterioration.
|Even though I don't live there anymore, Oberstein is the place where I was born, went to school, grew up. I will always think of it as "home" ... no matter where I might be.*
While the proper name of the town is Idar-Oberstein, we're
not concerned here with Idar, which is merely another part
of the town. There's been a rivalry going on between
Oberstein and Idar for ages. All the "important" stuff is of
course in Oberstein (the beautiful Church in the Rocks, the
train station, the post office ... Idar's got the police station
... which we think they need more than we do anyway :)
The symbol of Oberstein is the Church in the Rocks, located
about 120 meters above the Nahe River, built right into a
steep rock, accessible only by climbing up about 230 steps.
The church is a favourite place for weddings -- brides seem to
enjoy airing their finery while making the climb which starts in
the Market Square and slaloms up to the church.
The church was probably built (or possibly re-built) between
1482/84 by Wyrich IV of Daun-Oberstein. It might well have
started earlier, as a military installation; the legend that arose
is much more romantic (see the link below to read the legend).
What is known is that the Roman invaders were finding precious stones in the area over 2000 years ago, but Oberstein proper isn't mentioned in historical documents until much later, in 1277. It was a township until 1865 when it was bestowed the right to call itself a "city"
Gems continued to be found until not too long ago (the area contained rich deposits of Agates and Jasper); Oberstein has become a major gem and jewelry center, it is also home to an important diamond exchange.
Alas, in the 80's, the powers that be decided to build a highway over the Nahe River that runs through the valley betwen two of the several hills that comprise Oberstein; this highway is part of the famous "Deutsche Edelsteinstrasse" (the German Gem Road). While it certainly facilitates travel and shopping (the major shopping area on Main Street is now 'pedestrian only'), many of us "oldsters" feel it destroyed the character of Oberstein. Progress isn't always pleasant! (see the pictures below)
Coat of Arms
|This page created February 2001 by Valkyrie|