Of all the charming, enchanting medieval villages Kongo visited this month while in Europe, none match the little Swiss hamlet of Stein am Rhein. Located in northern Switzerland where the Rhine River empties from Lake Constance this village of 3,000 dates back to Roman times but it really got on the map all the way back in 1007.
In 1007 the abbey of St. George was established here and the monks were given control of river trade at Stein. Stein am Rhine literally means Stone on the Rhine. This became the foundation of a bustling commercial hub. In the reformation the abbey was secularized but the little town remained.
Today Stein am Rhine is recognized as the best preserved medieval village in Switzerland. While there are many things to marvel at in this little village, the highlight is the collection of buildings covered in frescoes along the main square in the center of town. These frescoes tell stories of village life and a condition of ownership is that they must be preserved in their original condition. The paintings depict vineyards, death, history, biblical stories, mythology, and animals.
On the hills above the town Hohenklingen Castle, built in 1225, rules over the surrounding area. Every village or two in this part of the world had to have its own lord and master.
The original city gates and walls remain pretty much intact although the walls have been upgraded to homes.
Even off the main square the town is charming and inviting and much less travelled. Kongo wandered about for a few hours while Mrs. Kongo sampled wine.
This was a great place to wind up Kongo’s European vacation. The next day he and Mrs. Kongo would be flying back to the West Coast.
Travel safe. Have fun!