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Little Venice on the Saar River

Saarburg is beautifully located at the banks of the Saar River and in the centre of the renowned wine region of the Saar. The town is a medieval jewel at the foot of Saarburg fortress towering above the Saar River. A roaring waterfall in the middle of its picturesque Old Town, with small bridges and elaborate half-timbering facades, make the special charm of Saarburg. The ‘piazza’ on top of the waterfall gives Saarburg a little Venetian magic. Below are the narrow, steep alleyways to the quarters of the sailors and fishermen that settled in the lower city on the banks of the river. There is a lot to discover.

1. Location of Saarburg in Germany

The town of Saarburg is located in the Moselle-Saar holiday region, approximately 89 km to the southwest of Frankfurt-Hahn Airport (see map on bottom of page).

The Moselle-Saar is one of the nine holiday regions of Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate. Of the Rhine's tributaries, the Moselle is considered the loveliest. Idyllic wine villages perched on steep, vine-clad slopes, and romantic little towns with a medieval feel, such as Cochem and Bernkastel-Kues, lend the Moselle valley its unique character. Trier, over 2,000 years old, is the oldest town in Germany and its stone relics dating back to Roman times have now been designated a UNESCO world heritage site. Come and discover for yourself the jovial hospitality of local Moselle people — and don't forget to treat yourself to a delicious glass of that famous local Riesling. ... read more about the Moselle-Saar holiday region

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2. Old Town of Saarburg

The Old Town is located directly at the Saar with coloured houses of the fishers and mariners. House marks can be found on many houses. The inscriptions give the initials of the constructors as well as those of his wife, year of completion and the signs for the profession. Motives such as fish, anchors, hitchers and helms point out to mariners and fishers who lived here. At the occasion of the canalisation of the Saar, a protection wall against high tides was built in 1987. In the years before this wall, the Old Town was always endangered by high tides. Different flood heights are indicated at the rows of houses.

The strategic meaning of the picturesque landscape was already clear to count Siegfried of Luxemburg, who built up the castle site in 964 on a ridge. Thus, he created one of the most beautiful and powerful castles on a ridge in the western part of Germany. Already in times of the late middle age, the initially small village at the foot of the castle grew to a considerable village, receiving city rights by King Rudolf of Habsburg in 1291.

The places of interest of the state approved resort town attract guests from afar. Main attraction of the city is the cascade, a unique natural spectacle in the centre of the city, with the water falling down the rock cascades for 20 meters, driving the mill wheels in the basin. Today the mills contain the mill museum. The municipal museum named ‘Amüseum’ can be found in the former electors mill, containing the oldest turbine still operating, owned by a private person, with interesting, changing exhibitions.

Everybody with a little of leisure will be enchanted by the winding lanes with their southern flair, ‘Little Venice of Saarburg’, its rows of houses at the Leuk rivulet built on mighty stakes of oak wood, the picturesque Old Town with the multicoloured houses of the fishers and mariners and last but not least the bell foundry, where the traditional handicraft of bell casting was practiced until 2002. Beside the numerous places of interest, Saarburg offers extensive recreational activities, such as ship excursions on the Saar, city excursions with the Saartalbahn, swimming the modern open-air leisure bath or in the indoor leisure pool, suited for families, a ride with the summer toboggan-run or with the chair lift to breezy heights. Special adventures are offered with the air shows of the park of birds of pray.

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3. Points of Interest

Rathaus (City Hall)
The city arms of Saarburg are located in the arched portal of this shale quarry stone building, erected in 1906. A glockenspiel from the Mabilon bell foundry rings out every hour and half-hour.
Little Venice
Small stream bridges lead across the Leubach. The rowed houses here have rested for centuries on heavy oak posts.
This viewing point offers a wonderful view of the Saar and the Kauten Tower.
Kauten Tower
A former customs tower and cutwater for the protection of the Old City.
Kuno Tower
The oldest remaining defensive tower of the old city wall. Ruins of the city wall can be seen from both sides of the tower. The junction at the tower reminds one of the Plague and its horrific consequences during the 30 Years’ War.
St. Laurentius
The towers of the parish church can be seen from far away. A small ‘Chapel of the Cross’ was already here in the 13th Century.
Pferdemarkt (‘Horse Market’)
This is the location of the former ‘Pferdemarkt’. To the right of the small stream bridge is the stopping station of the Saar valley railway, offering a comfortable alternative for viewing the sights during a half-hour tour.
Standing on a little iron bridge, you can see the impressive spectacle of a cascade falling more than 20 m over rock cascades. Originally, the Leuk flew around the city, feeding the fish ponds and the moat of the ‘Saarburg’ (the castle). In the 13th century, the rivulet was put into another bed without further ado, in order to have sufficient water for fire extinguishing in the city. At the same time, the mills on bottom of the waterfall were built. The water wheels of both the city and the electors’ mills were operated by water force.
Hackenberger Mühle
Right in the centre of Saarburg you will find the Hackenberger mill of the 13th century. The mill complex consists of three mills staggered in line. Their wheels still turn at the cascades at the Leuk rivulet. In the beginning, different materials were treated. An oil mill as well as a tan mill and a grain mill were in operation. Since end of the 19th century until 1974, the mills exclusively milled grains. The original drives daily produced an output of one ton of flour, whereby the mill wheels turned at a power of 17 PS. In the cellar of the mill, the visitors can see lots of gears, connected to the stone on the upper floor, and driving it by a leather belt. In the rooms on top, different stone floors and other machines can be seen, milling the grains and refining the flour more and more each time.
Ancient trades and handicraft professions of Saarburg are presented in the Amüseum. Next to the formerly most important handicraft at the Saar, the tannery, the work of the bell founder, printer, shoe maker and mariner is represented. The building, being the home of the AMÜSEUM, can look back on a long and diversified history. In 1657, it was constructed as an electors’ mill at the artificially created cascade. For a long time, the town hall of Saarburg was located next to the virtual mill, thus making this building complex to a centre of the guild and city system. But the town hall burnt down in 1900, and was reconstructed at another place. The mill was also operated until then, but changed to operate as an electric power station. In 1935, RWE Energie bought the former mill to produce electricity by means of a new turbine. This turbine is still working and can be visited, too. The mill today is municipal property and contains both a museum and an art gallery with interesting changing exhibitions.
This was built as a stabilizing embankment wall on the orders of the Elector in 1641.
Laurentius Gate
In the city system of the Middle Ages, this wall sealed off the walled upper city from the unprotected lower city right up into the 17th Century.
A narrow, steep alley leads into the Staden. Sailors and fishermen settled in the lower city on the banks of the Saar starting in the 17th Century. Some of the colorful houses still bear the house symbols of these professions with fish and anchors.
Alter Markt (‘Old Market’)
This place is characterized by the Mabilon house, established in 1773 as the headquarters of the bell foundry family, Mabilon. Today it houses a sparkling wine cellar.
Bell Foundry Mabilon
The bell foundry Mabilon is in family property since 1590. Its roots are in Saumur on the Loire. From this place, bells were cast, whilst being on the tramp. At that time, the transportation problem of the heavy bells over large distances was avoided by casting the bell in front of the church. Mabilons first bell still existing was cast in 1639, during the 30-years war in the Sauerland. In 1770, Urbanus Mabilon settled down in Saarburg and established a permanent foundry. The art of Bell Foundry was thoroughly preserved as a secret, bequeathed from generation to generation until today. Until December 2002, bells were cast in Saarburg. Today, the foundry today is a museum, which remained unchanged.
Saarburg Fortress
The formerly pride and mighty castle, one of the first and most beautiful castles on top of mountains in the west, was constructed by count Siegfried of Luxemburg in 964. His residence was in Luxemburg. To him, Saarburg was an important strategic base in the south east of his property. The castle ring street around the manor house was 137 m long and wide up to 50 m. The houses of upper and lower castle as well as the elector’s house in the upper court of the castle were connected by ways and protective walls. The exterior walls, equipped with loopholes and spy grooves, started in a height of 12 to 15 m above the steep rocks. The well of the castle, with its depth of 60 m, nearly reached the river bed of the Saar. 107 steps lead to the look-out in the upper part of the Mantelturm (habitation tower). The donjon — main protective device for more than 1,000 years — was never destroyed. Being on top of it, you should enjoy the marvellous view over the valley of the Saar.
Protestant church
The protestant church is located on the path to the fortress. The church was built in 1893, destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt between 1948 and 1949.
Warsberg House
Here is the former seat of the electoral administration, and today it houses the offices of the Mayor of the community of Saarburg.
Buttermarkt (‘Butter Market’)
Here you can once again enjoy the natural spectacle of the waterfall.
Named after the Arch Bishop of Trier and Elector Boemund, who was simultaneously Lord of the Castle of Saarburg.
Zum Schwarzen Kopf
This restaurant owes its name to the bust of a dark oriental figure wearing a turban stemming from the 17th Century. The ‘Hotel de la tête noir’ even counted Kaiser Wilhelm II among its guests
Fruchtmarkt (‘Fruit Market’)
One of the former city gates was located here. A fresh fruit and vegetable market is held here on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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4. Wonderful Vineyards & Wine

Riesling, Elbling and Burgundy mature in the sunny slopes; Grapes for top wines. The best locations for the wine — and the most beautiful views for hikers. Rambling through the vineyards and enjoying the rests in between. Fantastic views while picnicking high above the river. The wine country along the river and the properties in the valleys and on the heights, are proof of the work of diligent people. Winegrowers and farmers tend and harvest the produce that nurtures both body and soul. Hearty food, Viez (apple wine) and many noble spirits serve to invigorate and soothe at the end of a long day. Though sometimes somewhat hidden, but all the more delightful are the wine bars and inns. The inner courtyards with their Southern charm, local cuisine and a glass of wine may be thoroughly enjoyed — not only in summer. Nowhere can the close proximity to France be felt as much as in the cooking. Come and get the taste of it and let the top chefs tempt and spoil you. A tribute to the region, the wine and its guests. Since holiday pleasures are also pleasures of the palate.

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5. Holiday Region Saar-Obermosel

Two rivers meet in the sunny South-West of Germany: Saar and Mosel. They characterise the unique landscape of the Saar-Obermosel region. Vineyards rise up steeply from the riversides; paths lead to the locations offering the most attractive views. Wooded mountain flanks and wide meadow valleys alternate in harmony between the rivers. Many small streams traverse the idyllic scenery of scattered villages and farmsteads. The diversity of beautiful landscapes turns the Saar-Obermosel region into a paradise for cyclists, mountain bikers and ramblers. Relaxation far away from the humdrum of everyday life and gathering new strength with plenty of fresh air. Enjoy the regions nature, hospitality and great wines. Here, in the border triangle, Europe is alive.

5.1 Museums

Open Air Museum Roscheider Hof (Konz)
At the Roscheider Hof, you can discover the former life of the regions, including the Eifel, Hunsrück and Saargau as well as parts of Lorrain and Luxembourg. The museum was developed during the last three decades in and around the building of the former court lent by the Benedictine abbey of St. Matthew in Trier and covers an exhibition surface of more than 3.000 m². Amongst others, we can find a school exhibition of 1912, a barber shop, a hat confectioner and a little village tavern. Furthermore, you will find a dentist, a pharmacy, a butcher’s shop and the workshop of a clock maker in the street of the 20th century. In addition, interesting exhibitions such as ‘from grain to bread’ or ‘viticulture at Moselle, Saar and Ruwer’ can be seen. For children, the new exhibition ‘children’s world’ is of special interest, with a collection of tin toys from the middle of the last century as well as a collection of approximately 100 dollies. On a surface of 20 ha, in groups of buildings around the Roscheider Hof, houses and granges of the 19th and early 20th century have been reconstructed according to the originals, furnished according their former use and equipped with residence contents. House gardens and fruit tree orchards, fields and lanes have been set up according to historical patterns. This is how to create the impression of a small village, in the houses of which you can get an impression of the life of our ancestors. The farmer gardens are part of a supra regional project called ‘Gärten ohne Grenzen’ (gardens without frontiers). An additional open air exhibition shows 32 examples of land marks, giving an impression of how people marked their property in the region. The latest acquisition of the Roscheider Hof is an exhibition of tin figures with more than 40,000 parts.
Museum of Rural Culture and Technology (Palzem-Kreuzweiler)
The block house museum, unique in its construction, containing an exhibition surface of more than 400 m² already astonished lots of visitors, as it is constructed in the old carpenters’ tradition completely by round wood. The exhibition shows more than 40 Bulldogs and tractors of the labels Lanz, Hanomag, Deutz, Fendt and Normag of the twenties until the fifties. Furthermore, several land machines such as detachable side farm carts, threshing machine, truss, ploughs, string binders, stationary motors and a mobile endless saw can be seen. The outstanding treasure of the collection is an express Bulldog of 55, which stood in a hut for more than 40 years. This former tractor vehicle of the Wehrmacht once was used in the area of the blockade at Orscholz at the western front. Depending on the seasons, demonstration of typical agricultural works such as baking of bread, pressing of cider, threshing, harvesting and ploughing with historical machines are shown.

5.2 Roman Monuments

Roman Emperor's Villa (Konz)
About 350, the Romans set up a summer residence for their emperor Valentinian I. (364-376) in the old Contionacum (Konz), who enacted four laws for the whole west Roman empire in this site with a ground surface of 84 x 38 m. Here Ausonius, poet of the Mosella, also rested for a short period of time. Unfortunately, only rests of ruins can be found today. Excavations in 1959 brought extensive results: approx. 30 rooms, one of them a hall of apsis. The palace contained remarkable findings: 18 coins dating into the time of 324 to 392, as well as rests of glass jars with engraved ornamentation and a bi-colour Diaret glass (eye glass for people with Diabetic Retinopathy). In 1959-61 essential parts of the archaeological excavations were lost during the excavation works for church St. Nikolaus. The only parts remaining are wall rests of the hall of apsis in the crypt of the church as well as a vaulted heating way with operational room underneath the church. The rests of the visible walls are freely accessible 
Roman Temple (Tawern)
The visitor can gain a good impression of the Gallic-Roman temple architecture at the Metzenberg in Tawern, only 200 m from the most important Roman way, connecting Trier with the centre of the Roman Empire. Between 1986 and 1987, an archaeological excavation of the temple district and a larger profane building were initiated under leadership of the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier, the buildings were partially reconstructed. Findings give evidence of the fact, that the temple area was already used in the first half of the first century after Christ until the late fourth century. At the north western edge of the temple, a well with an initial depth of more than 15 m could be laid open. It was filled with stones, soil and pieces of architecture. In addition, fragments of inscriptions, figurative relieves as well as the head of a sculpture made of lime could be found. Mercury, god of the trade, commerce and traffic was the main god of the temple district. The head, slightly larger than life and made of lime found in the well originates from his sculpture. A lustration altar was sanctified to both Mercury and Apollo, god of the light and the healing. Two reliefs show the Gaelic goddess of horses Epona and the Egyptian couple of gods Isis and Serapis. The findings of the well illustrate the end of the Gallic-Roman sainthood of Tawern: a coin, found in the depth of the well, embossed at the end of the fourth or beginning of the fifth century, is the evidence for the fact, that the well still was intact at that time. In 392 after Christ, the exercise of the pagan cults was definitively forbidden by emperor Theodosius. After this, the temples and the lustrations were destroyed and thrown into the well by and by. The district is freely accessible
Roman Settlement ‘Vicus’ (Tawern)
The Vicus is located on bottom of the Metzenberg in the valley of the Mannebach. Excavations from 1994 until 1996 uncovered the ground plans of a total of nine buildings on both sides of the Roman Street. In such a Vicus, merchants and handcrafters had a place to live. There was a hostel with service, perhaps offering the possibility to put animals to the wagons for the upward journey. Also the markets were held here. The village was a middle centre for the surrounding region with its estates. The most interesting discovery in the Vicus is a blacksmith’s shop. Its existence was proved by layers of up to 50 cm, containing an extremely high part of charcoal, teeny particles of iron and parts of tempered soil as well as numerous findings of scoriae. Here not only mounts and draught animals could be shoed, but also the production of irony tools and equipment is proved.

5.3 Cultural Monuments

Herimtage ‘Klause’ (Kastel-Staadt)
High above the valley of the lower Saar, on the summit of a salient rock of sandstone, the Klause (hermitage) of Kastel-Staadt can be found. At the time of the crusades, chambers and niches were burrowed into the soft bunter, symbolization of the myth of finding the cross. In one of the caverns, the ‘Heiliges Grab’ (holy tomb) was trenched, next to this rooms for living and praying, intended to remind of the sanctified sites on the hill of Golgotha in Jerusalem. During the middle age, devotional hermits found their home here. The chapel of the hermitage was probably constructed around 1600. A Franciscan father constructed a building with two storeys on the rests of former buildings, containing a church room at the ground floor and the habitation of the hermit at the first floor. Hermits lived and prayed here until the French revolution. Hereafter, the construction decayed until the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm had the ruins, which were abandoned since long, transformed into a tomb chapel for the bohemian King John of Luxemburg. In 1833, at the occasion of a visit of the Rhineland, Friedrich Wilhelm received the remains of King Johann of Bohemia, the life of whom fascinated him. Despite of the fact that he went blind, Johann of Luxemburg faced the English troops in the Crécy battle, as ally of France, during which he fell in August 1346. The vanquisher of the battle, Edward III of England had the blind king entomb with all honours in the abbey of the Benedictines at the city of Luxembourg. After demolition of the tomb church, his bones finally came into Prussian property. Friedrich Wilhelm, who admired the blind king for his courage, had the hermitage built as his last home. Friedrich Wilhelm ordered his architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, head of the supreme building authority, to reconstruct the hermitage. Schinkel designed the construction in accordance with the romantic southern influence, using windows with semi-circular arches, column arcades and a frontispiece reminding of Italian ideals. The interior of the ground floor remained unchanged. The bones of the bohemian king rested in the hermitage from 1938 until 1946, to be finally transferred to the cathedral in Luxembourg.
Steine am Fluss
Between Konz and Palzem, along the Obermosel, 16 sculptures created by 10 international sculptors can be seen. The part ‘Steine am Fluss’ of the way of sculptures of Rhineland-Palatinate, with a length of 30 km can be explored during a days excursion by bike. A wonderful composition has been created with these art works, creating an entity with the landscape of the Moselle, vineyards and slopes, enriching the cultural landscape of the Obermosel. Flyers, free of charge, with description of the tour and the sculptures are available at the tourist information Konz and Saarburg.
King John von Bohemia, count of Luxemburg, had the stronghold ‘Freyding’, constructed in 1337, serving as protection of the border and control of the military street from Trier to Metz. The place near the castle quickly developed and was granted city rights already in 1358 by the emperor. A rampart surrounded the village. Parts of it still exist. In 1646, Archbishop Christoph von Sötern had the castle destroyed. After the Vienna congress in 1815, Freudenburg together with the principality of Trier and the Rhineland became property of Prussia. The mayor’s office of Freudenburg, existing until 1947, was formed together with the villages of Freudenburg, Kastel, Staadt, Hamm, Taben and Rodt, to exist for 500 years as a burgrave property. Today, you still can see the castle ruin, moat, castle gate and fortification as well as residential buildings with three floors, large halls and stone carved lintels and defenestration with gothic traceries.

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6. Events Finder

There is always something happening — whether it is art, music, wine festivals or a host of other activities. The Events Finder gives you an overview about what is on, where and when. Here you can search for events and festivals in the region.

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7. Hotel & Holiday Flat Finder

Here you have direct access to the online accommodation reservation service of the Tourist Board of Rhineland-Palatinate. No other hotel reservation system on the Internet offers you such a broad and comprehensive list of accommodation in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate regions. You can list accommodation, search accommodation, contact accommodation establishments and make online reservations.

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8. How to get there from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport

8.1 By Rental Car

Google Maps: Route from (A) Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to (B) Saarburg
(89 km distance / 1:21 hours driving time) » get directions

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8.2 By Rail and Bus Services

Frankfurt-Hahn Airport has no direct railway or bus connection to Saarburg. However, the buses from the airport will take you to railway stations where you can connect with Deutsche Bahn trains or local transport links.

Weblink: Deutsche Bahn — show integrated Rail and Bus Services from Frankfurt-Hahn Airport to Saarburg

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Tourist Office Address

Saarburg Tourist-Information
Graf-Siegfried-Str. 32
54439 Saarburg

Tel.: +49 (0) 65 81 - 99 59 80
Fax: +49 (0) 65 81 - 99 59 829