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Thalfang and Dhronecken Castle

At the northern foot of Erbeskopf mountain lies Thalfang (Latin: Talavancum), a spa resort with a particularly healthy climate. This is an area that was already densely populated in Celtic-Roman times. First documented in 1112, district "Mark Thalfang" is among the oldest administrative units in the region. The church is well worth seeing with three naves from the first half of the 14th century, a Romanesque west tower from 1220-1230, a Late Gothic chancel and a Stumm organ from 1877/78, which goes back to the famous organ-building dynasty of Johann Michael Stumm from Sulzbach am Idarkopf. It is not far from the eastern edge of town to the mystical Haardtwald forest, the place where some say the grim Hagen von Tronje of the Nibelungen song is supposed to have murdered the noble hero Siegfried by a spring. This fiercely bubbling mineral spring is rich in carbon dioxide. It rises quite close to the old Roman road Via Ausonia and is accessible in a beautiful pavilion in a forest glade (Haardtwald-spring). On the other side of the Roman road, in the middle of the forest about a half hour from Haardtwald-spring, is a natural monument called Berger Wacken. It is an impressive block of quartzite fifteen metres high, representing the highest point of a quartzite ridge several kilometres long.

Not far from Thalfang, in the pleasant valley of the "Little Dhron" (Kleine Dhron), lie the ruins of Dhronecken Castle. This was possibly the ancestral seat of the hero from the Nibelungen, Hagen von Tronje. From the 14th century the "Office of Tronecken" (to which Thalfang also belonged) was administered from here. The present structure was built around the former castle and is used by the forestry office. The picture shows the keep of the old castle, as it is today, viewed from within the courtyard. A visit to Dhronecken Castle combines well with an eventful circular hike. You begin at the Thalfang train station and climb, past Bäsch, up to Röderberg (641m), where you will find the remains of a Celtic ring wall. From there you continue along the ridge of the mountain to the Ausonius circular hiking path and follow this down into the deeply cut valley of Röderbach, the so-called "singing valley", at the foot of Erbeskopf. Follow the water down into the valley until you reach the Röderbach forester's house then (Forsthaus Röderbach), a short time later, cross the road along the Hunsrück ridge (Hunsrückhöhenstraße) and you finally reach Dhronecken Castle, following the creek all the way. The nature trail to Thalfang follows Thalfang creek, which here flows into the Little Dhron, and returns to the starting point of this hike. From Thalfang it is not far to the ruins of Hunolstein castle. You can reach this from Haardtwald-spring by crossing the Roman road "Via Ausonia", and thus arrive in the village of Gräfendhron. From there a nature trail through the Dhron Valley, leads up to Hunolstein. The return journey can be combined with a visit to Hölzbachklamm gorge. Here, in one of the most pristine sections of Dhron, where the Hölzbach creek empties, steep quartzite cliffs make an impressive sight in this narrow valley.

Note: The High Medieval Nibelungenlied, rediscovered by J.J. Bodmer in the 18th century, consists of two originally independent parts that were combined into a single integrated masterpiece of courtly poetry around the year 1200 by an Austrian poet. The first part, about love, passion and gold —the material for all great stories— is a fairy tale without any direct historical basis. The lonely Hunsrück region, covered with dense woods, with its autumn mists (the name "Nibelungen" is related to the German word for fog, "Nebel", and means "the possessor of an enchanted gold hoard") is well suited to the deliberately neutral, mystical location of the story. The second part of the Nibelungen song, however, which is about the downfall of the Burgundian Kingdom on the Rhine near Worms, is based on historical events. Among these is the story of the crushing military defeat of the Burgundians Burgunden in 435 by the Roman governor Aétius of Gaul (the "last Roman") and by the Hunnic troops in 451, as well as, among others, the assassination of Attila the Hun on the night of his wedding to a German princess in 453. The defeated Burgundians were exiled and later settled in Savoyen, while the Burgundian region on the Rhine, including the Nahe Valley and the Hunsrück region, were occupied by the Alemanni.

vSpacer Thalfang at the northern foot of Erbeskopf mountain («Hochwald» Forest)

View of the climatic health resort Thalfang at the northern foot of the Erbeskopf mountain. This area was already inhabited in Celtic-Roman times. First documented in 1112, the «Mark Thalfang» is one of the oldest administrative units in the region.

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