[Travel]Rhein River Trip 2-Burg Rheinfels, Koblenz

The main purpose of stopping at St.Goar is to explore Burg Rheinfels which is not really a castle that we would imagine(I mean it’s not a castle like Schloss Neuschwanstein at all). It’s actually castle ruin. Here is the brief history of the castle:

In 1245, the castle was built by Count Diether V von Katzenelnbogen to protect the St. Goar tax collectors and soon developed into one of the mightiest fortresses in the Middle Rhine region.In 1479, when the lineage of the counts of Katzenelnbogen died out at the height of their territorial power, the ownership of the castle passed to the House of Hesse. The landgraves of Hesse turned the “Rheinfels” into a splendid renaissance castle, which, with its surrounding fortification, became one of the strongest fortresses in Germany. The turbulent history of the castle came to an end in 1794, when it was handed over – without a struggle- to the French revolutionary army. In 1796/97 the exterior walls and the castle were blown up.

Parts of Rheinfels Castle still stand,tattered but proud, in the 21st century.

In short, this castle is more than 750 years old and the castle was enormous that it takes at least 3 hours to look around every corner of the castle. There are a lot of tunnels and trenches so it would be the best place to do hide-and- seek when the castle was not destroyed. With a map of the castle, you feel like an explorers. It’s much better to have a flashlight(you can use it from phone nowadays thanks to the technology)  There are many young German boys and they certainly enjoy exploring the castle.

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And on the hill of the castle, there is this nice view.

 

st.gaor

After wandering in the castle, I went down to have late lunch. There were some restaurants and they looked quite similar when I saw them on the way to the castle. So, I just picked nice looking one with some people. I wasn’t very sure how good the restaurant it will be so I chose safe choice: Schnitzel. You really can’t go wrong with Schnitzel in Germany or Austria. And with beer, of course. I was really hungry that I finished all the dish quite fast.

Then, I bought a ticket back to Cologne and there was about one hour transfer at Koblenz. One hour waiting for train would be boring so I looked up online where would be the popular tourist spot in Koblenz. I found Deutsches Eck is the most famous spot in Koblenz and it is about half an hour walk from the central station. I might have to wait another train but you know, the probability of coming back here is not that high(yeah, that’s statistical side of me). In the worst case, it’s buying another ticket. So, I decided to give it a try.

Koblenz is small size city. Not as big as Cologne but not small as those towns along Rhein river. Like many cities in Europe, Koblenz has new town and old town. Around the central station, you can see new side of Koblenz with some shopping malls. But when you are walking direction toward Deutsches Eck, you can see typical German old town. According to Wikipedia, Koblenz’s history goes back to 1000BC so it’s more than 3000 years old city. 

 

Then near the river area, you will see Deutsches Eck and you will find the gigantic equestrian statue of Wilhelm I. It is really huge when you see it in person. The first picture and the third picture are actually the views from inside of the statue. In the first picture below, it’s Deutsches Eck and it’s also the confluence of Moselle river and Rhein river. So, left river is Moselle and the right river is Rhein. All the flags in the first picture represent each state in Germany. Before unification by William I, Germany was divided into several families or several electorates. Under the leadership of Wilhelm and his Minister President Otto von Bismarck, Prussia achieved the unification of Germany and the establishment of the German Empire.

eckdeutsche exkkoblenz

This statue of Wilhelm I was once the symbol of united Germany. After the death of Emperor Wilhelm I in 1888, his grandson Wilhelm II wished to spark a nationalist cult around the “founder of the German Reich” by erecting the statue.

For me, I’m just enjoying the nice view but this would be the historically symbolic place for Germans. Unification by Wilhelm is the cornerstone of modern Germany.

On the other side of the river, there is a fortress, Ehrenbreitstein Fortress. Around 1000 BC, early fortifications were erected on the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress hill on the opposite side of the Moselle. You don’t have to climb the hill. Cable car is the best way to get there. I didn’t have enough time to visit but hopefully I can make it next time. If you are reading it and planning to go to Koblenz in near future, you can check this place out.

 

When I arrived Cologne, it was dinner time already. I woke up around 6am to go to Rhein and wandered for 10 hours. It made me really exhausted. I went to bed early and then head to Belgium after that day. It was three years ago and I still miss exploring Rhein River a lot. Next time, I wish I can explore different castles. Or maybe I can go to Moselle river,too! There are quite many places to travel in Germany than you think.

 

 

 

[Travel] Rhein River Trip (1)

When it comes to traveling Europe, some people argue that there’s not much thing to see in Germany. Maybe relatively true.Not far from Germany, there are France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Greece and UK. Plus, the German stereotypes that they are obsessed with order, having no sense of humour might not be intriguing.  Might not sound like the most attractive country in Europe. But I would like to say there are a lot of hidden charms. If you are a big fan of medieval castles and towns, Germany might be your favourite country in Europe.

If you are traveling the west part of Germany in Spring &Summer& Fall and have enough time, I strongly recommend to take a cruise along Rhein River(English: Rhine River).

There are several companies that operate Rhein River cruise and I took KD Line as it’s the most economical option. Depending on your departure and destination, the ticket price is around 20 Euro to 40 Euro.

 

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It goes both direction; from north to south, from south to north. Rhein river flows quite fast so it is much better to follow the current than against the current. Rhein River flows from south to north so it’s much more time efficient to take the cruise from south to north. So if you are staying north of the river like around Cologne, it’s better to take a train to the south and take the cruise.

When I travelled to Germany in 2014, I was staying in Cologne so I took the train to Bingen and joined the cruise in Bingen. I took off at St. Goar to explore Burg Rheinfels but you can hop on and off the cruise on the way.

Before exploring Rhein, I saw on the internet that the most scenic part is from Bingen to Koblenz and the scenery is forgettable from Koblenz to Cologne. That’s true but I still regret that I didn’t get to see Rüdesheim which is famous for having the best wine farm in Germany.

This is the picture of Rüdesheim along Rhein river. Doesn’t it look so lovely? And you can take a cable car to top of the hill in the town and it’s a nice spot to view the scenery of Rhein river.

I stopped at Bingen instead and it was still good. It’s much less touristy so it’s a good town to enjoy serendipity.

 

burg klopp

It took about half an hour to get to the top of Bingen and I found Burg Klopp with wine farm. Built in 13th century and along with castle Ehrenfels and Mouse Tower, Burg Klopp was a toll collecting station on the river trade. Soon the castle was destroyed and the ruin was sold and rebuilt partially. In 1875 a new Gothic style castle was built. When I got here, there was no one else so I enjoyed walking around vineyard freely. I love living in a big city but this place made me so relaxed and think I want to stay here for a few days to escape hustle and bustle for a while.

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This is the panorama view picture when I went down from the castle.

After that, I bought a ticket near the riverside and waited for the cruise for 20 minutes. There were quite many people waiting for the cruise at Bingen. I wanted to sit outdoor area in the cruise but it was so full already with people who took the cruise in prior departures. I guess everybody thinks the same.

The ride from Bingen to St. Goar takes about one and a half hour. During the ride, you can listen the audio guide from the cruise for castles along the river.

pfalz

It’s so called “the Pfalz”. It is a toll castle on an island middle of the river.  This is the smallest castle I’ve ever seen! It was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. Unlike the vast majority of Rhine castles, “the Pfalz” was never conquered or destroyed, withstanding not only wars, but also the natural onslaughts of ice and floods by the river. Its Spartan quarters held about twenty men. 

burg stahleck

This is Burg Stahleck in Bacharach. Bacharach is also a popular stop along the river. Stahleck Castle is a 12th-century fortified castle. It was once a castle but now it’s a youth hostel. If I have a chance to go to the river again, I would wanna stay here.

lorelei

Guess what? This is the loreley(English: lorelei). Disappointed? That’s ok. It’s actually voted for one of the most disappointing tourism spots. The hill was fantasized mainly because of the literature. Especially the poem by Heinrich Heine.

I know not if there is a reason

Why I am so sad at heart.
A legend of bygone ages
Haunts me and will not depart.

The air is cool under nightfall.
The calm Rhine courses its way.
The peak of the mountain is sparkling
With evening’s final ray.

The fairest of maidens is sitting
So marvelous up there,
Her golden jewels are shining,
She’s combing her golden hair.

She combs with a comb also golden,
And sings a song as well
Whose melody binds a wondrous
And overpowering spell.

In his little boat, the boatman
Is seized with a savage woe,
He’d rather look up at the mountain
Than down at the rocks below.

I think that the waves will devour
The boatman and boat as one;
And this by her song’s sheer power
Fair Lorelei has done.

 

The Original:

Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
Daß ich so traurig bin;
Ein Märchen aus alten Zeiten,
Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.

Die Luft ist kühl, und es dunkelt,
Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt
In Abendsonnenschein.

Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
Dort oben wunderbar,
Ihr goldenes Geschmeide blitzet,
Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar.

Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme
Und singt ein Lied dabei;
Das hat eine wundersame,
Gewaltige Melodei.

Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe
Ergreift es mit wildem Weh;
Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,
Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh’.

Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen
Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn;
Und das hat mit ihrem Singen
Die Lorelei getan.

The poem is very romantic as you can see. Heinrich wrote this poem when he was late 20s and one of romanticism poets in his era. I assume he must have been terribly romantic guy.

Schloss Schönburg bei Oberwesel

This is Burg Schoenburg in Oberwesel and now it’s a hotel. Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the Palatinate wars. Schönburg castle remained in ruins for 200 years until it was acquired by the German-American Rhinelander family who bought the castle from the town of Oberwesel in the late 19th century, and restored it. I really admire their effort to put it back the old castle that many people get to visit and stay.

After one and a half hour of watching scenary along the river, I arrived St. Goar and climbed up to the hill to explore Burg Rheinfels. Here I come to explore the old castle ruin!

st.goar

[To be continued]