Towns & Castles on the Rhine (RLP - Germany)

PRETTY VILLAGES, PICTURESQUE CASTLES & CHARMING TOWNS ON THE RHINE

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.
  
This was our first stop. Koblenz just means 'confluence', where the confluence of the rivers Rhine & Mosel happened. This is more of a big 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 and is the most magnificent of the castles in Koblenz and the most important of the places to see in Koblenz. 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!!!
  

St.Severus Church Boppard

St.Severus Church Murals Boppard Rhine Valley
  
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 someone who loves 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!!!

Where to eat in Koblenz? When you're at Koblenz, do try out the Cafe Einstein, Koblenz a Michelin rated restaurant for the authentic German cuisine! 
What is there to do in Koblenz? An ideal half day itinerary and the top 3 things to do in Koblenz, Germany would be to take the cable car ride, visit Ehrenbreistein fortress, take a guided or self-guided walking tour of the town to spot the other historic buildings & sculptures. An ideal itinerary for one day in Koblenz and the top 5 things to do in Koblenz would be the top 3 plus, visit Koblenz tourism office to see how the city has changed over centuries, and have a meal at Cafe Einstein, Koblenz. 
Where to stay in Koblenz? Being a big town, hotels in Koblenz are available at all price points from luxurious Hotel Mercure & Contel Hotel to Ibis Budget. The best of the places to stay in Koblenz would be definitely Hostel Ehrenbreitstein Koblenz which is located inside the renovated Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, just beside the viewpoint - basically this is the ultimate room with a view of Romantischer Rhein River! However do keep in mind that it requires early booking as it tends to be in full occupancy most of the time! 

My next stop along the Rhine was for the places to see in Boppard, Germany. 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.

Where to stay in Boppard? Hotels in Boppard are mostly upper-scale, luxury or boutique hotels. Boppard hotels are the best if you're looking for some peace and quaint, away from the city with a picturesque views of Rhine. Read my review of Bellevue Rheinhotel Boppard. However, there is an hostel in Boppard as well - Hotel Ebertor Boppard also offers 4 bed & 6 bed dormitory rooms 
Where to eat in Boppard? Hotel Bellevue Boppard itself has 3 restaurants in it - Le Chopin, Le Jardin and Le Bristol. Apart from these the are several restaurants including authentic German, Chinese, Turkish, Pizzerias etc.
What is there do in Boppard? Apart from St.Severus church, there is a museum of the town of Boppard, the very old house called Historisches Fachwerkhaus, ruins of the Roman castle called Kastell Bodobrica and the electoral castle called Kurfürstliche Burg.
  
Castles on the Rhine - Rheinfels Castle St.Goar

Travel Blogger Bhushavali with Claudia Schwarz UNESCO Germany

Castles on the Rhine - Rheinfels Castle St.Goar
  
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! 

Where to stay in Sankt Gaurhausen? Being the home of Loreley rock, there are a few Sankt Gaurhasen hotels here, ofcourse all are boutique hotels. 
What is there to do in Sankt Goarhausen? Katz Castle is located here as well as the Loreley visitor centre & museum atop the hills. There is a clock museum in the town centre. In the middle of the river is the sculpture of Loreley.

THINGS TO DO IN ST.GOAR
2 very important places to see in St.Goar - Rheinfels Castle & Loreley Observation Deck. The Sankt Goar castle called 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! 
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.
  
Castles on the Rhine - Rheinfels Castle St.Goar

Castles on the Rhine - Rheinfels Castle St.Goar

Castles on the Rhine - Rheinfels Castle St.Goar
Pic Courtesy: Claudia Schwarz

Castles on the Rhine - Rheinfels Castle St.Goar
  
The Loreley Observation deck is here in St.Goar as well, for tourists & trekkers alike, with a memorial for Heinrich Heine, swings and a sheltered viewpoint with seating arrangements. Here's a 360°view  (pic below) for you to get a glimpse of the impeccable beauty of this place!!!!!

Where to eat in Sankt Goar? There are quite a few eateries here, but the most picturesue is the small cafe called the Loreley blick Maria Ruh, atop the hill. Located at the Loreley Observation Deck, the view is spectacular. On the street level, on the highway is the Loreley Panorama Restaurant which is bang opposite to Loreley rock. No matter which restaurant you go, don't forget to order some local Mosel wines.
Where to stay in Sankt Goar? Unlike Sankt Goarhausen, since this side of the river, lends the view of Loreley rock, there are very many Sankt Goar hotels including a few budget options as well. Infact there is also a youth hostel here. Some luxurious options here include Romantik Hotel Schloss Rheinfels, Hotel & Restaurant zur Loreley, Hotel Loreleyblick etc. There are a few camping grounds here as well.
What is there to so in Sankt Goar? Ofcourse, keep looking at, and be mesmerized by the beauty of Loreley rock and visit the semi-ruins of the mighty Rheinfels Castle. The town has a Catholic Parish Church as well as a Protestant Stiftskirche. There is a unique museum of German dolls & Teddy bear here, called the Deutsches Puppen-und Barenmuseum. An ideal one day itinerary of St.Goar, of things to do in St.Goar in one day would include, Loreley view point, Rheinfels Castle, Dolls museum and a quick visit to Boppard as well.

Oberwesel means 'The Town of Wine & Towers' and it is! There are a whooping 17 towers and most restored well. Even the fortification walls have been restored and its possible to walk on them, along the railway line and its just a beautiful thing to do in Oberwesel. This town has the most medieval feel to it. Infact every alternate year, a festival happens here called Mediaeval Spectaculum when the whole town goes back to living as in medieval times, with candles and lamps, dressed accordingly, with all modern building covered up! Next is on Sept 4-6 2020.
  
    
Oberwesel - Town of Wine & Castles

Oberwesel places to see
  
Our first stop here was Günderrode house. This house was built overlooking the Rhine, as a prop for the shooting of the movie Heimat 3 directed by Edgar Reitz. The builders of this house, Ars Ligni GmbH, dismantled a historic house of 18th C and relocated it here to build this grunge looking house as a movie set! In course of time, the house became a small museum of the movie itself and has a little cafe too.
I was lucky enough to meet Sam, the blacksmith, as well, in Oberwesel! Watch the video from 8:58 as I chat with him. With so so so many castles being here, traditional blacksmithery is an important aspect of the renovation and restoration of these structures and that's where Sam, comes into the picture! Sam, is a blacksmith from Maine, USA who specializes in forging, one of the oldest type of metal working! He founded his own guild in Maine and does regular tours in Europe to learn other traditional techniques that are in the verge of getting lost and taking them to USA and passing on the traditions! He was here in Oberwesel for just 2 days when I happened to meet him!

Where to eat in Oberwesel? Our last stop was at Historische Weinwirtschaft Oberwesel for dinner. This is such an adorable restaurant. The building is more than 500 years old and the restaurant itself was founded in 1986 by Iris Marx. Just like the castles, the walls are made of slate stone and the ceiling, wood! It was originally a home. So many of the things that belonged to the residents, decades ago, are still here. Infact, the bed frame, has been re-purposed as chairs! Decor included the age-old glass storage containers! Everything from the decor to the table arrangement, had the historical feel to it. The food was local and very very yummy!
Where to stay in Oberwesel? The most luxurious Oberwesel hotel is Burghotel Auf Schönburg Oberwesel which is one of the castles on the Rhine converted into a hotel. There is also a youth hostel in the same castle, just beside the hotel.
What is there to do in Oberwesel? The most important of the places to see in Oberwesel Germany, is perhaps the town itself, to feel how it has almost frozen in time since medieval age and then visit Günderrode house. The town centre has a Backereimuseum (bakery museum) and 3 historic churches. Oberwesel Burg  (castle) can be seen only from outside, unless you book a room at Burghotel Auf Schönburg Oberwesel.
  
Günderrode house Oberwesel - Upper Middle Rhine valley places to see

Mosel wine plantation Upper Middle Rhine Valley


Historische Weinwirtschaft - Where to eat in Oberwesel

Historische Weinwirtschaft - Where to eat in Oberwesel
  
This is perhaps my favourite village in whole of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. It is so incredibly picturesque and definitely the prettiest village on Rhine Valley! The lanes are narrow and some are even less than 1m long where I had to hold on to Atyudarini's leg (she was behind me in babywearing) to prevent the walls from scraping her legs!!!!
This village is so low that often, its roads used to get under water when Rhine floods! That's why, when railway line was constructed here, it was raised much above the, then ground level. Today, just beside the railway line is the original fortification wall of the town with 8 towers and parts of it belong to 16th C! There were quite a few 16th C houses still intact.
One of the iconic places to see in Bacharach is St. Werner's Church ruins. This is located atop the hill with a short flight of 99 steps. This was once a popular pilgrimage, as a stop-over for the pilgrims heading to Camino de Santiago in Spain. However during the 9 years war, in 1689, the bomb meant to destroy Castle Stahleck fell here and destroyed the church. All that's left here now are the ruins.

Where to eat in Bacharach? The most picturesque as well as historic restaurant in the town in Altes Haus
Where to stay in Bacharach? There are a few Bacharach hotels, but the most fascinating of them all is Burg-Stahleck (Stahleck Castle) that has now been renovated and converted to a hotel & youth hostel. 
What to do in Bacharach? Walk around the town, this is the prettiest village on the Rhine! Climb atop St.Werner's Church ruins and look at the splendid view of the vineyards as well as the other towers/mini castles (Halbrundturm, Sonnenturm, Hutturm etc) in the region. Portions of Stahleck Castle are open to public and for a full access, booking a room/dorm bed would be required.
  
Narrow lanes of Bacharach

Prettiest Village in Upper Middle Rhine Valley Bacharach

Bacharach St. Werner's Church ruins
  
Like Koblenz, Bingen too is a large town and is bit touristy & busy! One of the most important things to do in Bingen is the Chair-lift ride. The loop begins with a cable-car ride at Rudeshiem and drops you at the Monument of Germania. A short from there leads you to Jagdschloss Niederwald hotel, a former hunting lodge and from there, a chair-lift to Assmannshausen and a boat-ride back to Rudeshiem...
Bingen is known as the home of Hildegard von Bingen. She was an abbess who lived in 1098-1179. She was one of the earliest woman to become an abbess and she founded monasteries for women. She wrote several scriptures about her visions, which included the medicinal values of plants, theological thoughts and even music!

What to do in Bingen? The most important places to see in Bingen & Rudeshiem are its 4 castles - Niederburg Castle, Burg Kloop, Mauseturm and ruins of Ehrenfels Castle, followed by the museum & abbey of Hildegard von Bingen. There is a wine museum and medieval torture museum in Rudesheim. 
Where to stay in Bingen and Rudesheim? Being a big city like Koblenz, Bingen hotels and Rudesheim hotels are also very many including famous chain hotels like NH, available at all price points. Many of the historic houses here have also been converted to Airbnb Bingen & luxurious boutique hotels.

That wraps up my list of the picturesque, gorgeous, must-visit towns & villages, the best towns to stay, in the banks of Rhine in Upper Middle Rhine Valley! Coming up soon about the Rhine river itself next week. Stay tuned!


Upper Middle Rhine Valley is so beautiful that I've taken thousands are photos here and it would not be justified if I don't share atleast a few more. So here's a dedicated post of the photos of Rhine River & Upper Middle Rhine Valley.

HOW TO REACH UPPER MIDDLE RHINE VALLEY PLACES TO SEE

On Google Maps: Koblenz Cable CarEhrenbreistein fortressDeursches Eck statueSchängel statueSt.Severus ChurchLoreley rockRheinfels CastleLoreley Observation pointGünderrode house, Historische Weinwirtschaft, St. Werner's Church ruins, Rudesheim cable car (to visit Monument of Germania), Bingen local history museum
All these sites can be accessed on foot from the ferry points, as well as railway stations of Koblenz, Boppard, St.Goar, Oberwesel, Bacharach, Rudesheim & Bingen.

You could stay at Koblenz or Bingen which are big towns or any of the smaller towns or villages in that entire 67km for a more authentic experience.
Read my review of Bellevue Rheinhotel Boppard, where we stayed.

RHINE VALLEY PLACES OF INTEREST TICKETS & HOURS
Koblenz Cable Car Hours: 9:30AM to 5:30/7:00PM (in winter/summer respectively). Closed 04 Nov to 28 Feb for maintenance. 
Koblenz Cable Car Tickets: €11 for cable car ride only; €14.80 for cable car + fortress combined ticket. 
Ehrenbreistein fortress Tickets: €7
Ehrenbreistein fortress Hours: 10:00AM to 5:00/6:00PM (in winter/summer respectively)
Rheinfels Castle Tickets: €5 for regular tour & €7 for lantern tour at night (this happens once a month on a Saturday and is updated on their website); 
Rheinfels Castle Hours: Mar 07-Nov 10 - Open daily 9:00AM to 5:00/6:00PM; Nov 11-Mar 06 - Closed. 
Rudesheim Cable Car + Monument of Germania + Chair lift + ferry connection (ring ticket): €15; 
Rudesheim Cable Car Hours: 9:30AM to 4:00/7:00PM depending on season & weather. 
Bingen Local History Museum Tickets: €3 
Bingen Local History Museum Hours: Tue-Sun 10:00AM - 5:00PM
Deursches Eck statue, Schängel statue, Loreley Rock & Observation Point, Günderrode house, St. Werner's Church ruins: 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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