A cruise along the Rhine River in Germany, from Koblenz to Bingen, will reveal over twenty-five castles or castle ruins. Some of them allow visitors, while others can only be viewed from the river.
Three castles that I find most interesting are the Marksburg Castle, the Rheinfels Castle Ruins and Burg Reichenstein.
The Marksburg Castle near the north end of this stretch of the river claims to be the only one that was never attacked. The castle has been rebuilt and remodeled over the years. Touring this castle, you will see evidence of parts that were built in different eras.
In the early 20th century, the Marksburg was renovated and now houses the offices of the German Castles Association. Guided tours are offered daily except December 24 and 25.
Although the castle has never been attacked, the inhabitants were ready with cannons and cannonballs.
The tour includes a visit to the kitchen where the fireplace was large enough to roast cattle. The bedroom contains period furniture – a bed, a cradle and a spinning wheel.
The final stop on the tour is a visit to the keep – the tower that was used as the final refuge if the castle would be attacked. The keep was begun in the 12th century, but most of it was built in the 14th century.
Just above the town of St. Goar, are the ruins of the Rheinfels Castle. This castle was built in 1245. It was attacked many times, but was able to withstand the enemies until the French Revolutionary forces came in 1794. At that time, the castle was given up to the opposition who destroyed the exterior walls a few years later.
The castle is open to the public from March to November. Everything is out of doors except for the small museum, so be aware of the weather when you plan to visit.
One of the most interesting parts of these ruins is the network of tunnels that runs underneath the castle. A flashlight is recommended as some of the tunnels are pitch black. Plan to spend at least an hour exploring the tunnels – we spent a good half day exploring the castle complex and museum.
Near the southern point of this part of the river is Burg Reichenstein. This castle was built in the 11th century, destroyed in the 13th, rebuilt, destroyed again and left to decay. In the mid 19th century it was again rebuilt and remains today.
If you would like to sleep in a castle – this is your best opportunity (link is in German only, but it has great pictures). The castle houses a restaurant and hotel – both of which we found very enjoyable.
We visited in mid-September and were given personal attention by the staff and the chef of the restaurant.
A museum which is part of Burg Riechenstein houses a large assortment of cast-iron plates, 1200 hunting trophies from different parts of the world, weapons and armor, and furniture pieces from several centuries. We were in awe over the vastness of the collection.
Visiting the castles and ruins along the Rhine River is an experience I would recommend. You can cruise from Koblenz to Bingen stopping along the way to view the castles you choose. Take your time – don’t try to cram everything in to a day or two.
Spend time visiting the small towns along the Rhine. There are wonderful cafes and small shops with local handcrafts. Enjoy your visit to the castles along the Rhine!