Kelheim: Hall of Liberation monument offers an eyeful
October 21, 2014
There is a moment during every memorable sightseeing expedition that makes it worth the hassle of waking up early, fighting traffic and paying for the privilege of parking.
It can be a great meal shared among friends at a quiet cafe, the awe-inspiring scope of history showcased at ancient monuments or the excitement of a crowd at a public event.
My moment during a recent trip to the Befreihungshalle (Hall of Liberation) in Kelheim, Germany, happened shortly after scaling the spiral staircase leading to the top of the monument. There, I was treated to an absolutely stunning view of the town that lies along the banks of the Danube and Altmühl rivers as the sun rose over the eastern mountains.
In that moment, it was easy to see why King Ludwig I chose that spot to build his monument to German valor.
The Hall of Liberation was conceived by the king to immortalize the sizable German contribution toward the defeat of Napoleon’s forces during the 1813-14 Wars of Liberation. In fact, it opened on Oct. 18, 1863 — the 50th anniversary of the massive Battle of Leipzig, the decisive encounter of that conflict and the largest battle in Europe prior to World War I.
It’s also a sister monument of sorts to Ludwig’s other monuments — the Ruhmeshalle (Hall of Fame), Feldherrnhalle (Hall of Generals) and Walhalla (a hall dedicated to Germanic heroes), and it was the last monument he built before his death in 1868.
Today, the monument remains a popular stop for those heading to the city of Regensburg, and it’s a great destination on its own.
Parking is ample and located close enough to the monument that visitors of any age can make the walk. A small visitors center offers English and German tour books and multimedia guides for those looking for in-depth information on the hall’s history.
There are a couple of places to stop and take photos along the 500-meter path from the parking lot to the monument. An elevator provides access to the main floor of the hall, though the top level can be reached only via a lengthy staircase.
It’s worth the climb, because the view of Kelheim is simply one-of-a-kind.
Inside, visitors can walk along an alcove that circles around 34 sculptures depicting “Goddesses of Victory,” each bearing a shield inscribed with a battle fought during the campaign. Above, a vaulted dome 147.6 feet high bears plaques dedicated to famous generals of the war.
It’s all very solemn and awe-inspiring to see the soldiers’ names memorialized in such an extravagant manner.
I can’t promise you’ll have a moment quite like the one I had while visiting, but if you show up early enough, odds are you’re going to be treated to one of the most gorgeous views in Bavaria.
There is a cafe on site if you’d like to just see the hall, grab a bite of strudel and head for home, but the town of Kelheim is worth a visit if you’d like to make a day of it.
In short, it’s the perfect quick trip.
Hall of Liberation at Kelheim, Germany Directions Befreiungshalle, Befreiungshallestrasse 3, 93309 Kelheim, Germany
Times 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday through Saturday, March 19-Oct. 31; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday through Saturday, Nov. 1-March 18
Costs 2 euros to park, 3.50 euros for adult admission; no charge for visitors under 18 (with school identification)
Food A cafe on site serves lunch and light breakfast options.
Information Phone: (+49) (0)9441 82 07-10; website: www.schloesser.bayern.de/englisch/palace/objects/kelheim.htm.