Growing up in a place where castles and fairy tale sights are non-existent, I thought I would only see them in movies. Castles, ancient churches, hillside vineyards and romantic small villages – everything straight right out of a fairy tale scene is no longer a dream. Such places are real and I saw some of them with my own two eyes in Germany.
Germany has abundant castles and the great concentration of it can be found in the Rhine Valley. These historic towns of the Upper Middle Rhine has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s no doubt that the Middle Rhine is an interesting place for castle fanatics. The first time we laid eyes on it we knew it is the place we will keep coming back to.
As the heartland of the Medieval buildings such as castles, fortresses and churches, the Rhine Valley is the place wherein you can literally visit as many castles as you want.
If you’re coming from Koblenz you can get a ticket for a Rhine river cruise at the KD Rhine ticketing station near the Seilbahn (cable car station). You can always choose as to where you want to disembark and which villages or towns you want to explore. Depending on your itinerary and free time you have the option to take the cruise from Mainz to Cologne to see everything. In our case we got to experience two cruises, the first one was in 2015 where we navigated from St. Goar to Boppard and the second one was from Koblenz to Boppard during our recent travel in 2016.
To sum up all the castles that we’ve seen during our two Rhine river cruises, I’ve listed all eight castles and palaces between Koblenz to St. Goar.
Ehrenbreitstein Fortress – Koblenz
Ehrenbreitstein guarded the most valuable relic of the Trier See, the Holy Tunic, from 1657 to 1794. Successive Archbishops used the fortress’ strategic importance to barter between contending powers; thus in 1672 at the outset of war between France and Germany the Archbishop refused requests both from the envoys of Louis XIV and from Brandenburg’s Ambassador, Christoph Caspar von Blumenthal, to permit the passage of troops across the Rhine. [Source]
Today, Ehrenbreitstein is the home of several museums and is accessible through Koblenz Seilbahn (cable car) which is now the famous attraction in the city.
Martinsburg Palace – Oberlahnstein
Standing on the bank of Rhine in Oberlahnstein is the Martinsburg Palace. It was built around 1324 as a Rhine toll station for the archbishop of Mainz. Today it is maintained and preserved by the owner Dr. Johannes Romberg.
Stolzenfels Castle – Kapellen
Stolzenfels Castle was built between 1242 to 1259. The castle is one of the most outstanding surviving examples of Neo-Gothic architecture.
Marksburg Castle – Braubach
Towering on top of the hill overlooking the romantic village of Braubach is the magnificent Marksburg Castle. The castle was built at around 1100. Today, the castle is the home of the German Castles Association, that works to preserve all the German castles.
The Warring Brothers – Kamp-Bornhofen
The picturesque castles of Liebenstein and Sterrenberg became known as the ‘Warring Brothers’ because of the way their front battlements face each other, as though they were standing off for a fight.
Maus Castle – Wellmich
Maus Castle was originally called St. Peterseck and later became known as Deuernburg. During its glory days, it was one of the most advanced castle complexes. Presently the castle is privately owned and it houses a historical falcon and eagle station.
Rheinfels Castle – St. Goar
Overlooking St. Goar is the expansive complex of Rheinfels Castle. Built in 1245, the castle became the residence of the counts of Katzenelnbogen. Today, only one third of the complex has survived and it now houses a museum, restaurant and hotel.
Katz Castle – St. Goar
Just across the river from the Rheinfels castle is another impressive castle named Katz Castle. The castle was built around 1300 and is standing on the tip of the rocky spur on the Rhine side. Now, the castle is privately own by a Japanese businessman.
The castles I’ve mentioned here are some of the castles you’ll see in the entire Rhine Valley. Hopefully, in our next visit to this place we’ll get to see the rest.
How about you? Have you been to Rhine Valley? If yes, what are your favorite castles?