Acquaintance: already in 1933 the “Entrance to the Kroppacher Schweiz”

Press release dated 30/03/2022

On September 27, 1933, a report by Ernst Dell appeared in the Siegtalblttern, presenting peculiarities, sights and historical facts about the city. Almost ninety years later, many of Siegstadt’s charms of that time are still there.

In 1933 there was already a lot to discover in The Knowledge. (Photo: AK-Kurier Archive)

Knowledge. Ernst Deller described a hike through the Nistertal in his article. Stories invite us to leave – between past and present:

“Anyone who drives from Cologne to Siegen will soon see the pretty houses of our larger city behind Au. The express train roars haughtily and only stops for a short while, just before the eye catches the name of the station. And nothing remains in the memory. of a rare landscape beauty that the strongest impressions quickly obscure.

Knowledge: a name like many others. Hardly anyone who knows him, hardly anyone who pays attention to him. Because the place does not have an impressive silhouette, like Siegburg, which culminates in an imposing castle. Yet, even behind the prosaic name of “knowledge”, there is a very peaceful world with a particular charm, so it’s definitely worth the detour. From a purely historical point of view, knowledge offers many interesting things. The Freiburg pilgrim who encounters knowledge during his he excursion knows that he is treading on very ancient historical ground here. Already in 914 there was talk of the place of knowledge on the ancient via regia. And in its immediate vicinity is Schnstein Castle. History also sleeps here. The ancient castle, a massive building from the distant past that looks like a Schwind painting, rises from the ancient forest. Ivy grows wild around a tiny window. The gaze climbs with amazement on walls that seem to have been built for eternity. The castle rooms have a lot to tell! From the great army commander Melchior von Hatzfeld, “the best general of the emperor after the death of Wallenstein”, and by Jean Werth.

Of far greater importance, however, is the purely agricultural environment of knowledge. Here you will find numerous hiking trails that lead in all directions into the Sauerland, Oberbergisches Land or Westerwald. Romantic valleys, Nistertal, Elbergrund, Selbach, Wisserbach and Wipperbach attract nature lovers. One valley is more beautiful than the other, so the choice is doubly difficult for us.

We decide today for the first, the Nistertal. Twenty minutes below Wissen, we turn into a crack opening, through which the Nister feeds the waters of the Westerwald del Sieg. The Nister is one of the most beautiful rivers in the Westerwald. Here we have a deep gorge in front of us, which gradually narrows and therefore leaves little room for the road. At the village of Helmeroth we enter the richest part of the Nistertal gorges. Here the road gradually turns into a grassy path that leads us now on one side now on the other side of the river and allows us to orient ourselves through the rushing stream on stone islands (crosses of stones or slabs of rock thrown into the water).

The valley is becoming more and more romantic. The river meanders back and forth in sharp meanders. Everywhere rocky cliffs overlook the steep and forested valley walls. The residents proudly tell us about Kroppacher Switzerland. Suddenly we lose our way and we involuntarily go up the valley wall until a bad weather sign directs us to the wrong place. Our path now leads us through a dense deciduous forest. Just another hundred steps, then a steep abyss opens up before our eyes. We are standing on a rocky outcrop of a mountain, the Ley peak, which gives us a magnificent view of the nest. Down below the nest rustles. A narrow silver ribbon winds through pastures and meadows, steep cliffs testify to paradise.

Much further down, steep at our feet, is the village of Stein Wingert. A very promising name for the thirsty hiker who suspects the vineyards here. But he looks for him in vain. The name Wingert (= vineyard) recalls ancient times, when the inhabitants of Kroppacher Schweiz ventured into the cultivation of the vine with perhaps less success. On the right, a large stone bridge leads over the river to the village of Stein, to the tavern, where trout are probably eaten; for the icy mountain stream is richly blessed with these noble fish.

We now descend the steep mountain path to the village of Heuzert. The midday sun is burning. Trees offer us protection. Thirst inexorably afflicts us after so many climbs and descents. We are happy to have found a cozy restaurant down in Heuzert. The hostess offers us beer. But as experienced hikers, we know only too well that alcohol is debilitating. So, even if with a heavy heart, we give up the noble beer and have a steaming coffee. There is no shortage of hearty peasant bread, rich milk and good eggs. Truly, you are in better hands here than in a fine spa hotel. But we don’t have to rest too long; because the road to the Cistercian Marienstatt monastery is still a long way off.

We continue through splendid beech and fir woods. Soon the abbey stands before us like an elegant town in a lonely forest surrounded by noise. Above the outbuildings stands a beautiful Gothic church, crowned by a slender tower typical of Cistercian churches. A friendly Father willingly shows us the places and tells us the history of the abbey. It was the Heisterbach monks from beyond in the Siebengebirge who laid the foundation stone for this monastery in 1201. Now let’s visit Felsenstbchen, a rustic rocky landscape with the ruins of the old castle, just minutes from the abbey. All around we find numerous graves of Austrian soldiers who fell here in the years from 1796 to 1797 in the French Revolutionary Wars.

We then walk through the fields to the town of Hachenburg, overlooked by an old princely castle of Sayn. There we board the train to reach the district town of Altenkirchen. From here the horsepower takes us away Au to Knowledge. We are at the end of our excursion. For a long time we will live the memories of Kroppacher Schweiz with its wild and romantic gorges, its beautiful views downwards and its pretty villages and mills. The Nistertal is probably the only one where comforting oblivion and silence live. But eventually it repeats itself. This quiet, dreamy world does not open to the roaring express train, but only to a leisurely stroll. “(Report in the Siegbltter of September 27, 1933.)

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