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The Palatinate (German: die Pfalz, Pfälzer dialect: Palz), historically also Rhenish Palatinate (German: Rheinpfalz), is a region in Southwestern Germany. It occupies more than a quarter of the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate (Rheinland-Pfalz). Historically in union with Bavaria, the Palatinate covers an area of 5,451 square kilometres (2,105 sq mi) with about 1.4m inhabitants. Its demonym is Palatine.
In the west, the Palatinate borders on Saarland, historically also comprising the state's Saarpfalz District. In the northwest, the Hunsrück mountain range forms the border with the Rhineland region. The eastern border with Hesse and the Baden region runs along the Upper Rhine River, while the left bank with Mainz and Worms as well as the Selz basin around Alzey belong to the Rhenish Hesse region. In the south, the German-French border separates the Palatinate from Alsace.
One third of the region is covered by the Palatinate Forest (Pfälzerwald), including the Palatinate Forest Nature Park popular with hikers. It is Germany's largest contiguous forestal area with about 1,771 km2 (684 sq mi) and part of the Franco-German Palatinate Forest-North Vosges Biosphere Reserve.
The western and northern part of the Palatinate is densely forested and mountainous. Its highest mountain is the Donnersberg with a height of 687 m (2,254 ft), situated in the North Palatine Uplands near Kirchheimbolanden. Most of the major Palatinate towns (Ludwigshafen, Speyer, Landau, Frankenthal, Neustadt) lie in the lower eastern part of the Upper Rhine Plain down to the Rhine River. Here the German Wine Route (Deutsche Weinstrasse) passes through the renown Palatinate wine region.The Palatinate is one of the greatest wine producer regions in Germany and in the last two decades it became well known for a large number of prizewinning white and red wines of highest quality produced by a number of young, however fully-fledged, winemakers.
Traditionally, the Palatinate is divided into four subterritories, comprising the following administrative districts and independent cities:
Like most of Europe, the Palatinate is part of the oceanic climate zone influenced by the Atlantic, with an average annual temperature of about 10 degrees Celsius. Wet air streaming from West and Southwest leads to precipitations in the Mittelgebirge ranges, while it warms up on its way further down to the Rhine Valley. Here the clemency of the weather permits the cultivating of almond and fig trees, stone pines, Mediterranean Cypress, palms, and even some banana species. The lower hilly regions are known for its extended chestnut forests, sometimes referred to as "German Tuscany" in tourist advertising.
The former Celtic region was conquered by the Roman Empire under Emperor Augustus about 12 B.C., whereafter it was part of the Germania Superior province. During the decay of the Empire, Alamanni tribes settled here, their territory was conquered by Francia under King Clovis I about 496. From 511 onwards the area belonged to the eastern part of Frankish Austrasia, that—as Rhenish Franconia—became part of East Francia according to the 843 Treaty of Verdun.
From the Middle Ages until the end of the 18th century, the Palatinate was divided into several big and small states. The most important of these was the Electorate of the Palatinate (Kurpfalz), a number of territories formerly held by the Counts palatine (Pfalzgrafen) of Lotharingia. In the late 12th century the Counts palatine had achieved the status of a Prince-elector (Kurfürst), i.e. one of the seven nobles with the privilege of electing the King of the Romans, confirmed by the Golden Bull of 1356. In 1214 the Bavarian House of Wittelsbach was enfeoffed with these estates, which they ruled until 1918, together with the collateral branch of Palatinate-Zweibrücken from 1410, until the re-unification with Bavaria under Elector Maximilian I Joseph in 1799. The major ecclesiastical territory in the region was the Bishopric of Speyer. The Imperial city of Landau to preserve its status joined the Alsacien Décapole in 1521. Nevertheless it was seized by France after the Thirty Years' War.
During the French Revolutionary Wars the region was occupied by the forces of the French First Republic in 1794 and after the 1797 Treaty of Campo Formio incorporated into the département of Mont-Tonnerre. With the end of the Napoleonic Wars, a significant stretch of land on the left bank of the Rhine, which included greater parts of the former Electorate of the Palatinate, became part of the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1816 according to the Final Act of the Vienna Congress. Although the territory was geographically separate from Bavaria, it was ruled together with proper Bavaria as a single state for the next 130 years.
Since 1808 the administrative regions in Bavaria had been named after their main rivers. Thus the region after its incorporation into Bavaria was officially called the Circle of Rhine (Rheinkreis). In 1835, the romantic-minded King Ludwig I of Bavaria ordered the administrative regions to be named by historical allusions. So the region officially became the "Palatinate" (Pfalz). It should be noted here, that the historic Electorate of the Palatinate was centred on the right bank of the Rhine with Heidelberg and Mannheim as its capitals, while the new "Palatinate" that was established in 1815/16 was solely on the left bank of the Rhine, and included territories that had never been part of the historic Palatinate (e.g., the former Bishopric of Speyer or Kirchheimbolanden, which had formerly belonged to the Weilburg branch of Nassau). In order not to confuse the new Palatinate with the historic one (and with the Upper Palatinate), the name Rhenish Palatinate was common, but never official. The term Rhenish Bavaria (Rheinbayern) can also be found sometimes in older maps.
The French had introduced their system of administration and the Code Napoleon in the Palatinate. The Bavarian government preserved both after 1816, which gave the Palatinate a distinct legal status within the Bavarian kingdom. The royal family tried to symbolize the unity with Bavaria by erecting a royal palace in Edenkoben and by the restoration of Speyer Cathedral under direct supervision of King Ludwig I himself. The town Ludwigshafen was named after the king. On the other hand the Palatinate's representatives to the common Bavarian Parliament always prided themselves of their origin from a more progressive region and tried to expand the liberalism, which the French had introduced in the Palatinate, to the whole kingdom. The German historian Heiner Haan described the special status of the Palatinate within Bavaria as a relation of "Hauptstaat" (main state, i.e. Bavaria) and "Nebenstaat" (alongside state, i.e. the Palatinate).
During the revolution of 1848 a separatist movement tried to establish a "Palatinate Republic" which collapsed under a bloody Prussian military intervention. The union persisted after Bavaria became part of the German Empire in 1871, and even after the Wittelsbach dynasty was deposed and Bavaria became a free state of the Weimar Republic in 1918. However after World War I French troops occupied the Palatinate under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The western districts of Sankt Ingbert and Homburg (Saarpfalz) were separated from the Bavarian Palatinate and became part of the newly established Saarland, which according to peace treaty was governed by the League of Nations. In a clear breach of the treaty the French in 1923 encouraged a separatist movement for a Rhenish Republic in the remainder of the Rhenish Palatinate and the Prussian Rhineland. The Bavarian government reacted sharply and even had the leading separatist Franz Josef Heinz assassinated by a squad under the command of Edgar Julius Jung at the Wittelsbacher Hof in Speyer in January 1924. In February 1924 members of the separatist movement were killed in a shooting in Pirmasens. Also in February 1924 a treaty between Bavaria and the inter-allied commission of the Rhineland (the supreme council of the Allied occupation forces) recognised and reassured the Palatinate being a part of Bavaria.
The union with Bavaria was finally dissolved following the reorganisation of German states after World War II during the Allied occupation of Germany. Whereas proper Bavaria was part of the US occupation Zone, the Palatinate was occupied by French Forces. The French reorganised their occupation Zone by founding new states and in 1947, the Palatinate was combined with Rhenish Hesse (Rheinhessen), the former parts of the People's State of Hesse left of the Rhine, and the southern part of the Prussian Rhine Province to form the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
The Pennsylvania Dutch language spoken by the Amish in the United States is derived primarily from the German dialect spoken in the Palatinate, which many Palatine refugees brought to Pennsylvania in the early decades of the 18th century. The only existing Pennsylvania German newspaper, Hiwwe wie Driwwe is published bi-annually in the village Ober-Olm, which is located close to Mainz, the state capital. In the same village, one can find the headquarters of the German-Pennsylvanian Association.
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Arguably the most famous dish in Palatinate is the saumagen, literally "sow's stomach", a dish that consists of a thick, crispy-fried casing (sow stomach) stuffed with a mixture of pork, potatoes, and seasonings. Other traditional meat dishes of the region include bratwurst, Palatinate liverwurst, a blood pudding sausage called grieweworscht ("griewe" are speck (bacon) cubes, so lit. "sausage with speck cubes"), lewwerknepp or lewwerknedel (Leberknödel: liver dumplings), and fleeschknepp (Fleischknödel: meat dumplings). Sauerkraut is the typical side dish in all seasons, but especially in winter, as are mashed potatoes and brown gravy. Also eaten are dampfnudels, which can be served with either sweet sauces or side dishes (such as wine, vanilla sauce or canned fruit such as plums, prunes, or pears) or with savory side dishes (such as potato soup, vegetable soup, goulash, or pepper pork).