Rhine River Castles
The Very Best Of Germany. River Cruises Here Are Among The Finest In The World
The Rhine River castles that reside on the stretch of the river from Koblenz south to Bingen, have an almost magical, fairytale quality.
As they look down on you, they appear both threatening and beautiful at the same time.
Koblenz is where the Rhine and the River Moselle meet and its history dates back to Roman times. The lanes of the Old Town are dotted with historic churches, some as much as a thousand years old.
There are some wonderful parks and gardens open to the public.
One of these is at The Elector`s Palace.
This is a hugely important classical building started in 1777 and the favourite residence of Prince Wilhelm of Prussia. Unfortunately destroyed in 1944, it was rebuilt in the same style in the 1950`s.
Imagine you are on a European River Cruise, these are the amazing sights you will see on your journey south
Across the river from Koblenz, and glowering menacingly down, is the huge Fortress Ehrenbreitstein. It is known as "The Guard At The Rhine." One of the largest of the Rhine river castles, it has stood here since the 11th. century. In 1799 it withstood a year of siege before having to surrender due to the defenders dying of starvation.
Travelling south from the large city of Koblenz you will reach the town of Lahnstein where the River Lahn flows into the Rhine.
It was a place of strategic importance and was heavily fortified during the Middle Ages.
Many old gates and towers from that time are still to be seen.The ruins of Lahneck Castle lie high above the houses. A very sad little tragedy occured here in 1851.
Lahnstein also boasts the Martinsburg Castle, built at the end of the 14th century. It is extremely beautiful. It is possible to look round between May and September if you book a guided city tour.
On the opposite bank to Lahnstein is Stolzenfels Palace. It is considered to be a wonderful example of Romantic German Architecture, and one of the prettiest of the Rhine river castles.
There is a superb view of the Rhine River Gorges from one of the castle terraces. Following a long period of renovation it is due to reopen in the Spring of 2011.
South of the Stolzenfels Palace, and on the same side of the river, is the town of Rhens. It was here that the Electors of the German Empire met to choose their kings. In 1400 a stone building called "The Chair of The King" (Konigsstuhl in German) was built and here the kings made their oath of loyalty. A contemporary building can be seen here today but it is not in its original position having been moved in 1929.
Over the river from Rhens is the town of Braubach. It is full of charm with colourfully painted half-timbered houses. Long associated with wine-making the town is surrounded by vineyards. It is also famous for the growing of roses and there are gardens full of beautiful blooms.
The town is guarded by what is probably one of the most impressive of the Rhine river castles.
This is "Marksburg Castle" The only castle on this part of the Rhine never to have been destroyed.
It is simply stunning! Not to be missed, it is open to the public all year round.
The next interesting town on the journey upriver is Boppard. Here there are some of the oldest Roman walls in Europe. There is also a museum dedicated to the famous chair designer Michael Thonet who was born here.
A very fashionable riverside promenade, where you can walk at your leisure, is a popular place for visitors. Right on the riverbank is the Prince Electors Castle built by the Electors of Trier to extract tolls and contol traffic on the river. Boppard is the regional centre for wine production, especially the Reisling variety.
Across the river from Boppard lie two castles. They are called Sterrenburg and Liebenstein. Because of their closeness and the fact that they overlook each other, they are commonly known as "The Hostile Brothers." In fact there was never any animosity between the two of them. Lying close to this pair of Rhine river castles is the town of Kamp-Bornhofen.
Also visible from "The Hostile Brothers" is the Spa town of Bad-Salzig. Famous for the mineral waters that bubble up from a depth of 446 metres,(1463 feet) tourists travel here to enjoy the thermal baths and saunas which are meant to be good for your health.
Travelling on southward you soon come to the twin towns of St. Goar on the west bank and St. Goarhausen on the east.
High on the hills on the eastern side are Castle Katz and Castle Maus.
Katz castle is now a superb hotel but it is possible to visit Castle Maus.
The Lorelei Rock is within walking distance on the east bank and the town of St. Goarhausen, which is full of beautiful buildings, becomes the centre for the "Rhine in Flames" festival. This is one of the highlights of the tourist year on the Rhine River.
Across the river at St.Goar lies the largest ruined Rhine river castle. This is stunning Rheinfels Castle which is open to visitors.
A little further to the south you will reach the fairytale Schonberg Castle which is now a hotel. From the medieval town of Oberwesel you are able to walk along a beautiful trail to Schonberg. Over the river from Oberwesel is Gutenfels Castle.
You now reach the pretty little town of Kaub. Here, right on the water is probably the most photographed of all the Rhine river castles. This is Pfalzgrafenstein.
It was originally built in 1327 and was used to collect tolls right up until 1866.
Kaub has its place in history. It was here that the Prussian General Blucher crossed the Rhine River with an army of 60,000 men and 20,000 horses. It was in the winter of 1813-1814 and this crossing led to General Blucher and The Duke of Wellington defeating Emperor Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.
After Kaub, the traveller then reaches the town of Bacharach. This is a really beautiful place full of half-timbered houses. Above the town stands Stahleck Castle which is now a youth hostel - surely one of the most impressive hostels in the world!
Lorchhausen follows Bacharach, but on the east bank of the Rhine and it stands at the foot of wonderful vine covered slopes. Close by is the town of Lorch, a medieval town of narrow lanes, interesting nooks and timbered houses.
Opposite Lorch is Niederheimbach where once, every boat travelling the Rhine had to take on a pilot to help guide them through a dangerous part of the river.
South of here is Trechtinghausen which has three Rhine river castles in close attendance. First is Sooneck Castle, although it is small it is still impressive. Then there is the mighty Reichenstein Castle which is a spectacular neo-Gothic building.
Although an hotel and a restaurant, there is also a museum which is open to visitors. The third of the castles is Rheinstein Castle, an incredible example of the "Romantic" style of architecture. It is all towers and battlements.
From Rheinstein Castle you can look across the river to the town of Assmannshausen. This town is famous for its red wines, especially the Pinot Noir variety. Standing on a small rocky island in the middle of the river to the south of the town is the Mauseturm Toll Tower.
At the southern end of the Rhine River Gorge lie two towns. On the west bank is Bingen and on the east is Rudesheim. Bingen dates back to Roman times when it was a strategically important centre. High above the town stands the landmark of Klopp Castle, now the home of the City Council.
The town of Rudesheim on the east bank is a place not to be missed. Here in the old town is the famous Drosselgasse, a 144 metre long street flanked by many beautiful buildings.
A magnet for all tourists, it is a place of restaurants and wine cellars and lots of music.
It is here, right on the riverbank at Rudesheim, that you will find the imposing statue of Germania.
This is a mythic female figure meant to represent the spirit of Germany and was built between 1877 and 1883 to celebrate the formation of the German Empire.
Standing 38 metres high she has amazing views of The Rhine River Gorge.
This journey upriver gives the traveller so many Rhine river castles to enjoy in such a short distance.
All are unique and all have a story to tell.
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