Hambach Castle. The birthplace of modern-day Germany.

High above the Rhine on the Palatinate wine route stands a well-fortified castle, whose unassuming appearance belies its importance in the narrative of German history.

From 1797 to 1815 the Palatinate belonged to France and aligned itself with the values of the French Revolution – liberty, equality, fraternity. The July revolution in Paris in 1830 further fuelled the desire for liberty in the Palatinate, which culminated in the Hambach Festival. Leading liberals and 30,000 citizens from all walks of life gathered together and demanded more civil rights, religious tolerance and above all national unity. They also demanded freedom of assembly, freedom of expression and a free press. The Hambach Festival went down in history as the birth of German democracy. It was also the first time that the black, red and gold tricolour was flown as the symbol of German unity. The exhibition at Hambach Castle explores this pivotal political event. Flags, a printing press and historical documents take visitors back to the days of the Hambach Festival. The original flag from 1832 is now on show at the local history museum in Neustadt. Today, Hambach Castle is a partially restored ruin, whose walls and towers are reminders of almost 1,000 years of history. Nearby attractions: Spangenberg Castle, a castle ruin in the Palatinate Forest, is believed to have been built in the 11th century. After some preservation work the lower castle now has a tavern. Otto Dill, one of the Palatinate's most popular and influential painters, was born in Neustadt an der Weinstrasse in 1884. At the town's Otto Dill Museum visitors can admire his powerful animal paintings and the whole of his creative output.

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