the best river, next the Danube, in Europe

“(…) I left Francfort the 10th of October, 1657, intending to pass down the river Rhine, into Holland, and so again into France. Some German gentlemen and myself took a boat at Francfort, which carried us six miles that afternoon, to Mentz, the usual residence of the elector of that name, were he hath a great castle adjoining to the church, esteemed to have the largest and best painted windows of any in Germany.
Here the river Maine runs into the Rhine, the best river, next the Danube, in Europe, of whose head or fountain I have formerly made mention, having passed near unto it, as I entered into Rhaetia. The stream of this river is so violent, that it is only navigable downwards, which made our journey expeditious and pleasant.
The 11th, we refreshed ourselves at a place called Baccaract (quasi Bacchi Ara) from an altar anciently erected to Bacchus, (whose ruins are yet apparent) which makes it of a long standing, and anciently famous for the best wine, growing upon the banks of that river, which reputation it still preserves; this is within the palatinate.
Some few leagues further, we passed by an ancient tower, built almost in the middle of the river, called Ratts` Tower, near unto Bingen, which the people tell you is so called, upon this occasion: – in the pear 968, Hatto, second duke of Franconia, afterwards chosen Archbishop of Mentz, in a time of great famine and scarcity, summoned together a great number of poor people, with promise of relief, but instead thereof, put them all into a barn, and set it on fire, saying, they were the rats which devoured the food of the land; whereupon the vengeance of Heaven pursued him with so great an army of those animals, that they fell upon him in the closest rooms, finding passage through the chimneys and the least crannies, till at last, flying to this tower, which he caused to be made for his security, they followed him one night through the water in great droves, and devoured him.
That night we lodged at St. Verre, and the next day, being the 13th of October, we dined at Coblentz, a large town, situated where the river Mose falls into the Rhine. Here the Mose is very large, having over it a stately bridge of fourteen large arches; at one end of this bridge stands the town, at the other a fort belonging to the Elector of Treves, called Hermersten, with a freestone palace after the modern mode, adjoining thereto.
Thereabout, the country was in their vintage, to the prejudice of a gentleman of our company, who surfeited with eating those delicious grapes growing upon the banks of this river. That night we lodged at an obscur village called Hamestean.
The next morning we passed by a great town called Bon, belonging to the Elector of Cologne, where he then was, and that night we reached Cologne. (…)”

(aus: The Memoirs and Travels of Sir John Reresby)


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