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Idar-Oberstein Town

Idar-Oberstein

Idar-Oberstein is a town in the Birkenfeld district in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. As a Große kreisangehörige Stadt (large town belonging to a district), it assumes some of the responsibilities that for smaller municipalities in the district are assumed by the district administration. Today’s town of Idar-Oberstein is the product of two rounds of administrative reform, one in 1933 and the other in 1969, which saw many municipalities amalgamated into one. The various Stadtteile have, however, retained their original identities, which, aside from the somewhat more urban character encountered in Idar and Oberstein, tend to hearken back to each centre’s history as a rural village. Idar-Oberstein is known as a gemstone town, and also as a garrison town. It is also the largest town in the Hunsrück and has a population of around 30,000.

Felsenkirche (“Crag Church”)

Idar-Oberstein

According to legend, there were two noble brothers, Wyrich and Emich, who both fell in love with a beautiful girl named Bertha. The brothers lived at Castle Bosselstein, which stood atop a 135 m-high hill. Bertha was from a noble line that occupied the nearby Lichtenburg Castle.

Neither brother was aware of the other’s feelings for Bertha. When Wyrich, the elder brother, was away on some unknown business, Emich succeeded in securing Bertha’s affections and, subsequently, married her. When Emich announced the news to his brother, Wyrich’s temper got the better of him. In the heat of the moment, he hurled his brother out of a window of the castle and sent him to his death on the rocks below.

Wyrich was almost immediately filled with remorse. With the counsel of a local abbot, he began a long period of penance. At this time, Bertha disappears from the historical record. Many romantics feel that she died of a broken heart.

As Wyrich waited for a heavenly sign showing that he was forgiven, the abbot suggested that he build a church on the exact place where his brother died. Wyrich worked and prayed himself into exhaustion. However, the moment the church was completed, he received his sign: a miraculous spring opened up in the church.

Wyrich died soon after this. When the local bishop came to consecrate the new church, he found the noble lord dead on its steps. Wyrich was later placed in the same tomb with his brother.

Idar-Oberstein

The Historic Agate Mill in Idar-Oberstein

She is called “Weiherschleife” and is an old grinding on the banks of „Idarbach“ in the gemstone-city of Idar-Oberstein, in which the grinding wheel was powered by water power. Today the range of services extends interesting demonstrations of the previous operation and a remarkable multi-media show.

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