Apr 12, 2012

Cousin Time and Castles on the Rhine

One of the best things about living in Wiesbaden is being a part of the Rhine River Valley. The Rhine River stretches from the Swiss Alps all the way to the North Sea coast in the Netherlands and is one of the longest, most important rivers in Europe. How does 766 miles of river sound to ya? But the length is not what makes this river so interesting, in my opinion. It's the dozens of castles and wineries that patrol the Middle Rhine (stretch of the Rhine from Köln to Wiesbaden) that give this area such character and rich history.

{This is just a snippet of part of the Rhine River Valley.}

The weekend that my cousin, Ashley, came for a visit, D and I really had nothing planned. We were just so excited to have a family member here in Germany (our very first official visitor to Die Coté Haus!! 2,000 points to Ashley!!). After a relaxing pizza, PJ's, and Vampire Diaries veg out night on Friday, we woke up Saturday feeling refreshed and ready to show Ashley what the Rhine Valley had to offer! One of our goals before leaving Germany is to visit as many castles on the Rhine as we possibly can. Some are greater than others, but each has it's own unique story. Some, like Marksburg Schloss (castle), have been virtually undisturbed by the hands of time...it's the only Medieval castle on the Rhine that's never been destroyed. Others, like Burg Rheinfels (loosely translated to Rhine castle rock), were overtaken hundreds of years ago and are now skeletons of their former glories. To me, the castles left in ruins are much more fascinating and tend to have elaborate stories of unrelenting tensions, power-hungry kings, and blood stricken war. LOVE IT. Burg Rheinfels has all that and more, making it the perfect stop on our Rhine Valley exploration.


 Burg Rheinfels was built in 1245 by Count Diether V von Katzenelnbogen to protect the St. Goar tax collectors, and was once considered the biggest castle on the Rhine. It was a medieval "toll booth" of sorts levying charges on ships that sailed along the Rhine. Needless to say, Burg Rheinfels was hated by the citizens of Rheinland. So much so that the affected towns banned together and laid siege to the castle for over one year. Burg Rheinfels stood strong and resisted. In its first 10 years, it survived an onslaught of army forces sent by the League of Rhenish Cities and in 1692 resisted a siege of 28,000 French troops. But in 1797, the French Revolutionary army destroyed it. The castle was used for ages as a quarry after its demise.


Captured mid-high five. Excellent.


Within the castle walls, there is a labyrinth of trenches and tunnels that can be visited. We took every opportunity to explore them...and act ridiculous in them. Nothing like a karate chop to the face! 


The town of St. Goar.


After seeing all that Burg Rheinfels had to offer, we were famished. Instead of walking into town, we stumbled upon a cafe located right outside the castle walls, yet still high atop the hill above St. Goar. Seemed like a perfect location to stop, rest, and feast on Flammkuchen and Rhine Valley Riesling! Did I mention we dined al fresco? In beautiful 65 degree weather? Yeah...it was glorious.


This makes 2 Rhine River Valley castles down...and dozens to go!

3 comments:

  1. Had a blasty blast cuz! I will most definitely be returning sometime in the near future! :)

    Ash Bash

    ReplyDelete
  2. The Rhine Rive is beautiful. We took one of the boat tours down the river and saw all of the castles. We did not get to stop and explore any, but it is amazing to see how many there are in that fairly short stretch of the river. Looks like you are having a great time.

    P.S. Jay and I are going to be in Belgium for a couple of days at the end of June. We are spending some time with friends in Northern Ireland and then coming over to Belgium to visit the town we lived in during school. I think Wiesbaden is several hours from where we will be in Verviers, Belgium, but if you happen to be traveling in Germany somewhere near Belgium around then it would be awesome to see you guys!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Taking a tour down memory lane (I'm a relatively new reader!) and I love this post! I took a Rhine river cruise two summers ago and it was incredible! Seeing so many castles just casually sitting on the shore was such a neat experience. I would love to do it all over again!

    ReplyDelete

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