Monday, November 5, 2012

CASTLES ON THE RHINE

About mid-way through our time with the ten of us together, we spent an afternoon cruising the most scenic area of the Rhine River.  Perched on the hills overlooking the the 40 mile stretch between Rudesheim and Koblenz are about two dozen medieval castles of varying sizes and in varying states of restoration. This entire segment of the river is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The passage took a couple of hours, and during that time we were hardly ever out of sight of at least one castle, if not two or three. Built by minor princes, the castles originally served as places where trading ships had to stop and pay a fee before continuing their journeys.  Build a castle, tax the passersby, make yourself rich--not a bad gig for the Middle Ages.

Many of the castles were destroyed in later wars, but when all things medieval were in vogue in the 1800s, a fair amount of restoration work went on.  Today, most of the castles have a practical function, from serving as museums to bed and breakfasts to schools.

Unfortunately, it was a rainy day, and so while Bob braved the elements on the top deck, I mostly stayed indoors and savored the panoramic view available through large windows on the upper deck. If my pictures look a little fuzzy, it's because I took them through the glass.  However, since I didn't want to get wet, and since drinks and snacks were served in the lounge, I figured I could put up with a few foggy photos.


Reichenstein Castle, 11th century

Sooneck Castle, 11th century


Furstenberg Castle, 1219


Stahleck Castle, 12th century
Pfalzgrafenstein Toll Station (red and white building on left on water's edge) and Gutenfels Castle on top of hill on right
Gutenfels Castle, 13th century


Schoenburg Castle, 12th century, known as "the most beautiful refuge of the Rhine romanticism"
Schoenberg Castle again, on hill at left
About mid-way through this section is the Loreley, a 400-foot-tall rock looming over the narrowest part of the Rhine River Gorge.  The river bends here, and legend has it that a beautiful woman named Loreley waited on this rock for her lover, but when he didn't come, she threw herself into the Rhine and died.  Her spirit returned to wait on the rock, where for centuries she has sat combing her long blonde hair and singing to entice the sailors passing by to come closer. When they do, their ships crash into the rock and they are killed, giving Loreley her sweet revenge.





Castle Katz, 14th century, perched atop some amazing terraced hills

Rheinfels Fortress, 13th century
Maus (Mouse) Castle, 14th century


Marksburg Castle, 14th century (now a museum that we stopped to visit--see future post)


No wonder so many writers and musicians and artists have immortalized the Rhine River. It is magical.

2 comments:

  1. The most fun and scenic section of the Rhine. Makes you wonder what life would have been like trying to navigate the river in 1300.

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  2. I needed a Rhine cruise tonight, so happy I was able to jump on board with you. We went through one aged castle on our honeymoon, but I sure can't remember it now! Lovely sights.

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