Niederwalddenkmal (Germania-Rüdesheim)

The construction of the Niederwalddenkmal began with the laying of the corner stone in 1871 by the German Kaiser (Emperor) Wilhelm.

It commemorates Germany's victory over France in the 1870/1871 war and at the same time the unification of Germany that had previously consisted of a collection of several smaller states and principalities.

The construction work took six years and the monument was finally inaugurated in 1877.

On top of the monument stands the imposing statue of Germania.This stern maid stands watch on the Rhine ready to ward of potential invaders.

Germania had, by the way, since Roman times served as a personification of Germany.

This particular Germania is around 10,5 meters(33 foot) high and weighs 12 tons.On her head she wears a crown of oak leaves - long a German attribute.(Also seen ,as a mattter of interest, on the German one two and five cent coins).

In the right hand she holds the old royal crown surrounded with laurel leaves - since ancient times symbolising victory.

In her left hand she holds a sword pointed downwards which symbolises peaceful intent - so the books say but perhaps it was just too heavy to hold aloft for all eternity!!

On the base on which Germania rests are the names of the battlefields of the 1870/1871 war.

On two of the corners of the base are statues - one a man with drawn sword and trumpet in hand symbolising war and the other a wistful looking maid holding flowers in one hand and symbolising peace.

The main fresco on the base shows about 190 life-size people. It was the largest bronze relief of the 19th century.In the centre is King William of Prussia who is surrounded by generals and princes from northern and southern Germany.

Under this are the first few stanzas of "Die Wacht am Rhein"(watch on the Rhine) - a patriotic song of the time.

The Denkmal can be reached by car, cable car or by foot.

I would recommend going by foot - the walk is not very strenuous and meanders serpentine -like up through the vineyards. If you feel you are not up to this an alternative could be to go up by cable car and then walk down.

There are a couple of restaurants near the monument and it is also possible to take a picnic basket with .

The Niederwalddenkmal is well worth a visit.

Go from Niederwalddenkmal to Rhine Valley Vacations.