Villages & Towns of Rhine Valley - Part 1 (RLP - Germany)

Germany is known for this fairy-tale like castles and Upper Middle Rhine Valley is where you get to see 40+ castles in a stretch of 67km! I'll write more about it in another post, for now, here's in detail about the few villages/towns where we stopped and explored.


KOBLENZ: This was our first stop. Koblenz just means 'confluence', where the confluence of the rivers Rhine & Mosel happened. This is more of a town than a village. The Floral & Horticultural Show (BUGA) happened here in 2011 and it was a turning point for Koblenz. Everything in the town was improved, including the creation of a park along the Rhine river, making everything wheelchair friendly and the most important, the introduction of the cable car, across Rhine to go atop the Ehrenbreistein Fortress. The experience, reminded me much of London's Emirates Cable Car. While the view from here is good, the view from the top of the fortress is impeccable! 

While a castle has been standing here since the 1000 CE, built by Ehrenbert Conradine, the current structure of the Ehrenbreistein fortress was built in 1817-28. This is one of strongest fortresses built after 1815. Since the original castle was built, it was passed onto many hands, many bishops, and finally after the 30yr war, this fortress came under the Kingdom of Prussia. As you walk along the Rhine, it is possible to spot or cross the fortification walls time & again. You need atleast half a day to see just the fortress! The most amazing this is how wheelchair/stroller friendly this is. Its quite a challenge to make a historic building accessible - they've done it, and well!!!

Most of the historical buildings seen today in Koblez were built by the Prussians. The primary architect of the Prussian Era was Clemens Wenzeslaus and most of the historic buildings that stand till-date were designed by him - today's High Court Building was made for the high ranking military officials of Prussia, today's Electoral Palace was the favourite residence of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia & his wife Augusta. These were built in late 1800s. Later, the town was severely damaged during both the world-wars and everything was renovated. 
As a lover of street art & sculptures, there are 2 that caught my attention here - Deursches Eck (German Corner) and Schängel. Deursches Eck is a sculpture of Kaiser Wilhelm, the last emperor of Germany, located at the very joint of Rhine & Mosel. Its a bronze sculpture and is 37m tall, made in 1897. Another one is of Schängel. Its a fountain! It looks like a very naughty boy, who spits (that's why, a fountain), every 2 minutes. Ages ago, the name Schängel was used as an insult, for the children born to French & German mixed parentage!!! Not anymore, now its used with pride by the residents of Koblenz!!!

BOPPARD: My next stop along the Rhine was Boppard where we stayed at Hotel Bellevue. The only place that I got to see here was St.Severus Church. The site was originally a Roman Baths and ever since 5th C CE, a church stood here. The current structure belongs to 1236 CE. Originally built in Romanesque style in 13th C, it was renovated and expanded later in Gothic style. The cross on the altar is as old as the church.

There are some murals that depict the life of St.Severus in the nave. There are some murals in the right aisle ceiling as well. These murals too belong to the early Romanesque era. Early Christian grave-stones as old as 5th-6th C CE are on the wall here as well as the original baptismal font.



ST.GOARHAUSEN: The most picturesque place when you go cruising on the Rhine - Loreley Rock! That's right here in St.Goarhausen. While the view from atop here is great, the best thing is to go the other side of the river to St.Goar and see the rock in all its glory, along with the way the river bends here! 



ST.GOAR: 2 very important sites here - Rheinfels Castle & Loreley Observation Deck. The Rheinfels castle was built in 1245 CE. As I mentioned in the earlier post, this too began as a tax collection point. Soon it became a defence castle and withstood a year long seige. In course of time, the Count Diether V von Katzenelnbogen, with his clever tie-ups, built the Katz castle on the other side of the river and effectively he could block every ship on the Rhine!


Today the castle is in ruins but is mostly intact and its sheer size is huge! Its built of slatestone and for a moment I felt it was petrified wood! There are 3 things that fascinated me in this castle. One, ofcourse the watch tower that gave such a magnificent view of Rhine. 
Two, the underground tunnels - main ones called the fox tunnels and the tiny tunnels that branched out from them called mine tunnels. Watch the video from 4:36 as I walk through those tunnels! This was probably dug-up in 1600s when gun powder came into being when they could blow up the enemies above by lighting gunpowder in these tunnels just below them! Today these tunnels are filled with spiders! I couldn't help but think that they should organize Halloween walk inside these tunnels with just a candle! 

Pic Courtesy: Claudia Schwarz

Three, the cellar. It is the largest vaulted cellar without support in the whole of Europe. You should look at the walls - half of it is natural rock and then its built over that. Probably it was originally a moat and as the castle expanded, it was converted to a cellar.


The Loreley Observation deck is here in St.Goar as well, for tourists & trekkers alike, with a memorial for Henrich Heine, swings and a sheltered viewpoint with seating arrangements. There is a small cafe here called the Loreleyblick Maria Ruh as well. Here's a 360°view for you to get a glimpse of the impeccable beauty of this place!!!!!

Details on few more villages coming up in the next post. Stay tuned.

To Get There:

On Google Maps: Koblenz Cable CarEhrenbreistein fortressDeursches Eck statueSchängel statueSt.Severus ChurchLoreley rockRheinfels CastleLoreley Observation point
All these sites can be accessed on foot from the ferry points, as well as railway stations of Koblenz, Boppard and St.Goar.

Entry Tickets & Timings:
Koblenz Cable Car: 9:30AM to 5:30/7:00PM (in winter/summer respectively). Closed 04 Nov to 28 Feb for maintenance. €11 for cable car ride only; €14.80 for cable car + fortress combined ticket. 
Ehrenbreistein fortress: €7; 10:00AM to 5:00/6:00PM (in winter/summer respectively)
Rheinfels Castle: €5 for regular tour & €7 for lantern tour at night (this happens once a month on a Saturday and is updated on their website); Mar 07-Nov 10 - Open daily 9:00AM to 5:00/6:00PM; Nov 11-Mar 06 - Closed. 
Deursches Eck statue, Schängel statue, Loreley Rock & Observation Point: Free; Open 24 x 7

P.S: I was invited by UNESCO Germany to experience the region for review purposes, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

10 comments:

  1. It is hard to believe we have never travelled in Germany. Or experienced the Rhine Valley. Blog posts like this make me wonder why we have not made it yet. The sight of 40+ castles would be magical. Always interesting to see castles built as palaces versus castles built as fortresses. The views as you travelled along the Rhine were so picturesque. I would love to get up to the Loreley Observation deck to see the river from another perspective. Now just need to get this on our travel plans.

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  2. I haven't traveled all off the Rhine Valley yet but done some parts I and the towns and castles I have seen are amazing. However haven't been to St. Goar (or even heard of it) but after looking whats there, I so want to check this out. Heading back through the Rhine next summer on my drive towards Italy from the UK so fingers crossed I get to stop off there.

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  3. I haven't heard of Rhine Valley before but it sounds like an amazing place. I would want to visit there and see a lot of beautiful castles. The view of Loreley rock is so beautiful! I can't believe that this is the first time I've heard of this wonderful place, thanks for sharing this!

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  4. I loved castles with backdrop of German Alps during my visit to Germany. Though I have visited those couple of famous castles but it would be great to see 40 castles in such a short stretch across Rhine Valley. ST.Goarhausen being most picturesque place while cruising on the Rhine will be my first choice. The view from the Loreley Observation deck looks very beautiful and to have some snacks at the cafe here would be very relaxing thing to do here. Thanks for sharing some beautiful offbeat destinations in Germany.

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  5. Yes they have a huge number of castles but didn't know it was 40+ in 67km stretch! Interesting how Koblenz got spruced up for the floral show and got a position in tourist map. Interesting story about Rheinfels castle too. Love visiting such ruins.

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  6. So many! I did not know that Germany had so many castles. I just wonder why did they built so many. That was a great trivia about Schängel. Once an insult is now a pride! Infact, I loved reading about the information on the different castles and fortifications. Rhine valley looks gorgeous too. I would love to visit these parts of Germany sometime soon.

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  7. Ehrenbreistein fortress sounds quite interesting with its Prussian history. Good that you mentioned the time one would need to cover it. Half a day here definitely extends the entire time frame. St. Goarhausen is also, something that seems unmissable. Quite intrigued to read about those caves.

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  8. Europe for that matter Germany has so many castle stories . Rhine valley has so much beauty and things to see. I never knew about the history of prussians , infact once while reading it i was intrigued to read more about it by doing a wikipedia search . And about the cellar its hard to believe that the wall is made ho of natural rock. It is quite an interesting read. I wish i can visit Germany soon for it has so much string relevance towards history

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  9. Just based on what I like to photograph, I'm feeling like I'd love to spend some time at St. Goarhausen! The rolling hills on a clear day would be something else with a nice lens :)

    I appreciate that you continue to explore places that others aren't!

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  10. Woah! This is definitely a dream destination. There is just so much to see and do. I have always been fascinated with street sculptures and would love to see this up close.

    It is also exciting to visit Rheinfels Castle. Thank you for sharing a bit of their history. I learned something new today.

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