Journey through the Countryside

Journey through the Countryside

Today my host family took me to see the famous Burg Eltz. The fortress is a castle built directly atop a mountain which overlooks a major trading route in the Eltz forest. The family gained their massive wealth through forcing travelers to pay a toll for each pass. The Eltz is a major attraction and symbol of the legacy German royalty have left throughout the ages. The fortress even appeared on the 500 Deutsche mark while it was still in circulation. Seeing this castle was magnificent. Walking through the courtyards and halls of the castle felt like a time travel to the medieval era. The architectural design for the time period was extraordinary along with how well kept it was. Unfortunately, the tours would not allow photos to be taken within the houses themselves so unfortunately I cannot share the experience with my research. However, I do have plenty of photos of the outside of the area!







Lessons learned from my trip through the journey to Burg Eltz:
One of the most surprising things I observed while traveling is how quickly the landscape changes. The organization of the land and use of resources contributes to how the country has been able to grow such a large industry within its borders. Leaving the city of Mönchengladbach and traveling north towards the village of Eiffel, there were several different regions I observed. The first of which includes the area surrounding the city limits. This region was filled with manufacturing companies, power plants, shipping yards, mechanic shops, and a plethora of other industrial businesses. These industries are the heart and soul which power the cities and their people. It was astonishing to see how the buildings were oriented to cover a concise amount of land, and yet they fueled entire cities. To adapt and progress forward through the changes of technology, the cities were able to continue to hold their historical roots while maintain a level of innovation and advancement.
Further outside the cities was nothing but fields of green. These lands were used as farms to produce the foods which fed the country. Living in Pennsylvania and having to travel from the eastern side of the state (Philadelphia) all the way to the western side of the state (Pittsburgh) I seen my fair share of farm land. However, Pennsylvania is a little less than 300 miles wide and 160 miles long while Germany is 400 miles wide and 520 miles long. Pennsylvania however only harbors two major cities (sorry Harrisburg you don’t count) and is one of 50 states. Yet here on a brief trip across Germany, a highly populated area in comparison with Pennsylvania, I was experiencing a transition from city and manufacturing to nothing but farms in a mere 30 minute time change.

Within these fields lies part of the answer to how Germany is able to power their massive industrial threshold. Throughout the open land a plethora of windmills harness clean energy for the nearby cities. These could even be seen from the towers in the city churning in the horizon. (This reminds me to point out the remarkable number of solar panels atop houses and buildings in the city). However harnessing wind energy is not enough to power an entire nation so there is a reliance on coal. A little further in our journey and we came to the “the largest hole in all of Europe” as my host mother described to me. This was in fact the largest man-made crater in Europe. We were able to park our car next to the edge of the work zone and take a look for ourselves. The pictures attached do not do the scale of this operation justice. It was massive. The hole was a mining operation to collect brown coal. This coal was then used in the various energy plants scattered across the nation. Talking to my host mother a little more, I learned that we were looking at an area which had once been home to a village. The government had purchased the land and homes in order to relocate the families into an area further away from the coal. In fact, if it were not for the immense price, the town we drove through would have been part of the mining operation as well. The country is rich in natural resources which continue to fuel its industry. The organization of the open landscape, cities, and industrial parks facilitates the bridge between expansion of cities and technologies with maintaining vital natural resources.







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