Remagen — History

[From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia]

Remagen is a town in Germany in the Land Rhineland-Palatinate, in the district of Ahrweiler. It is about a one hour drive from Cologne, just south of Bonn, the former West German capital. It is situated on the Left (western) bank of the River Rhein (Rhine). There is a ferry across the Rhine from Remagen every 10–15 minutes in the summer. Remagen has many beautiful and well-maintained buildings, churches, castles and monuments. It also has a sizeable pedestrian zone with plenty of shops.

Overlooking the west bank of the Rhine just north of the city centre is the Apollinariskirche. It has a great observation deck that is only open to parishioners on Sundays. Pedestrians reach the church via a dirt trail that passes a series of roadside monuments representing each of the fourteen Stations of the Cross. The church grounds contain an outdoor crypt and an abbey. Further down the river is one of the many castles along the River Rhine, perched even higher than the Apollinariskirche.

The Roman Empire built a border fort at Rigomagus (or Ricomagus), west of the Rhine. This was about 12 miles north of the site of the first bridge ever built across the Rhine (at Neuwied). This bridge fought the river current by being built on timbers which were driven into the bed at a slant. Caesar’s troops spent nearly three weeks on the east side of the river, then crossed back over, destroying the bridge to prevent its use by German raiders. A second bridge was likewise destroyed by the builders once they were through with it.

The fort was one of a series built by Drusus, commander of the Roman army along the Rhine. Other Roman construction survived the centuries, including a gateway and Remagen became a tourist destination, popular with history buffs.

Local legend says that a ship carrying various relics from Milan to Cologne was stopped in the river in 1164, unable to move despite the strong current, until it mysteriously edged in toward the shore. The remains of St Apollinaris were put ashore, and the ship was then able to sail onward. These remains were interred in a chapel which had been part of the Roman fort, which became the basis for a church which bore his name, and was rebuilt several times over the years.

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