Blankenheim was first mentioned in a document from AD 721 as ‘Blancio’ in connection with its donation to the Prüm Abbey by its founder – Bertrada of Prüm (the great-grandmother of Charlemagne). And in the view of its long history, he is also something like a ‘museum-settlement’ – in whichever direction you turn, you will see cultural monuments (in practice, this is not something new in Western Europe).
So, a castle from the 12th century, reconstructed in the 15th century; remains of a defense wall from the 15-17th centuries; a church from the beginning of the 16th century; numerous beautiful houses, part of which are half-timbered or timber-framed – that is part of the total appearance of the old town.
Finally to see the residence of the powerful family of Blankenheim, whose member Gerhard I had erected Löwenburg/the Lion’s Castle in Gerolstein and gave his name to the town.
At the same time – the beginning of the 12th century – Gerhard built also the castle in Blankenheim. Today it is used as a youth hostel.
There are defense towers that are preserved from the medieval fortification. I will show only one – the so-called Hirtenturm dating from 1404 with its stone coat of arms from 1512.
The Church St. Maria Himmelfahrt/Church of the Assumption was built between 1495 and 1505. It is famous for its medieval treasures. (The photographs are a bit foggy as they were made right after a mass, and you couldn’t breathe from the sharp smell of incense or even see well through the smoky fog.)
The high and the side altars are pieces of specific craftsmanship by an unknown master from the end of the 15th century.
Late Gothic carving on the pews.
The organ from 1660 is one of the oldest in Rhine District.
All guide books start actually from here – the Source of Ahr River that is in the cellar of a timber-framed house from 1726.
Not far from it stands over the river the 18th-century statue of John of Nepomuk, patron saint of the bridges.
The narrowest house in Blankenheim with a width of 2.01 m.
And a bit German humor at the end – ‘May God protect this house from storms and fire, from authorities, planning (I think this is used only for euphony), and from taxes’.
The inscriptions of the house facades in Germany are not rarely seen at all. I’ve seen houses like this also in South Tyrol in Italy, where lives mainly a German-speaking (or more precisely, Italian + German-speaking) population.