Upper Rhine: Splendid cities and natural reserves

Upper Rhine

Breisach on the Upper Rhine

Breisach on the Upper Rhine

Splendid cities and natural reserves

The Upper Rhine extends from the Rhine knee near Basel to the Rhine knee near Mainz. The region includes the German-French-Swiss border area with Alsace, north-western Switzerland, southern Palatinate and part of Baden. Since the Stone Age, the plain between the Black Forest and the Vosges is one of the most important transit areas in Europe. The Romans were the first to systematically build roads. In the Middle Ages there was a trade route between Northern Italy and Flanders. Great cities such as Strasbourg, Colmar and Freiburg bear witness to the wealth of the region. But until the 19th century, unpredictable floods threatened every civilization. It was not until the straightening of the Rhine in the 19th century that the problem was contained. In some places, however, there are still floodplain forests and oxbow lakes, which are protected.

Germany Round Trips Upper Rhine

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Attractions Upper Rhine


Art and wine city in southern Alsace

Together with Strasburg, this is one of the most beautiful cities in Alsace. It is located along the wine road and considers itself to be the capital of Alsatian wine. Colmar is famous for it well-preserved architectural heritage spanning six centuries. Splendid timber-framed buildings and renaissance palaces characterize this town on the Lauch. Its museums house unique art treasures, including the Isenheim Altarpiece by Mathias Grünewald in the Unterlinden Museum. This depiction of the crucifixion is among the most impressive paintings produced during the Gothic era. The old town features numerous wine taverns where you can enjoy wine and traditional Alsatian fare.


Green university town in the warm Upper Rhine Valley

The city in southwestern Germany which lies in the Upper Rhine Valley between the French Vosges Mountains and the Black Forest to the east, enjoys a pleasant warm climate. Its story begins with a castle (Freiburg – “free castle”) of the Zähringer Duke in 1008. Today the vibrant university town with over 30,000 students is a stronghold in the world for solar energy research and one of the few German cities with a “green” mayor. The picturesque, traffic-free old town with its magnificent cathedral lends itself to a leisurely stroll, to shop or to dine. South of the city the Schauinsland rises, – one of the most beautiful mountains in the southern Black Forest. And a few kilometers north the Kaiserstuhl (Emperor’s Chair), a range of hills where rare plants and excellent wines grow, emerges from the Rhine plains.


Baroque drawing board city

The former residence of the Grand Dukes of Baden is one of the last major European foundations of the town on the drawing board and at the same time the result of a far-reaching idea: Karl Wilhelm, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, decided to exchange the medieval narrowness of his then residence Durlach for the construction of a new city open in layout and spirit. Characteristic for the original city map from 1715 is the fan-shaped ground plan. 32 streets radiate around the castle and the parks. The heart of the city is still the castle. It houses the Baden State Museum with collections from the early history of Baden and changing exhibitions.

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Episcopal city with a glorious past

The state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate is one of the oldest cities in Germany. 38 BC, the Romans built the camp Moguntiacum on a Rhine bend. 50 years on, it became the seat of the commander of Upper Germania. In the 13th century Mainz flourished. Its archbishops were electors and chancellors. The cathedral with its six towers is one of the greatest buildings of its time. On the northeast side of the cathedral square stands the Gutenberg House, once the world's first printing workshop. This is also where the Gutenberg Bible, which was printed in 1450, is kept. The old town with its maze of streets and alleyways south of the cathedral is worth a wander.

Rötteln Castle

Impressive ruin with panoramic view

The ruin lies visible from afar on a rocky spur that drops steeply on two sides. With two large defensive towers, Rötteln was one of the most powerful castles in Baden. At times it was the residence of the Lords of Rötteln, Margraves of Sausenberg and Margraves of Baden-Durlach. In the Thirty Years' War it was fought over and severely damaged. It finally lost its importance after the destruction in 1678 during the Dutch War. Today the Rötteln Castle is an important landmark and an attraction of the city of Lörrach and its surroundings. The castle ruin is open all year round; guided tours are possible by prior arrangement.

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Vitra Design Museum

Museum of Modern Architecture and Design

The Design Museum in Weil am Rhein mainly contains a collection of furniture and interior design, especially chairs and armchairs from several centuries. In the remarkable functional building by Frank Gehry, changing thematic exhibitions, retrospectives and workshops from the fields of architecture and design are offered.

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More Attractions Upper Rhine


Elegant wellness- and spa-center in the upper Rhine region

The town at the northern end of the Black Forest is famous for its thermal baths and its mild climate. Although the Romans already made (...)

Emperor's Chair

Sunshine, wine and walking

North of Freiburg lies the Kaiserstuhl (“Emperor's Chair”), a group of hills that rise up from the Rhine Valley. Its name is most likely owed (...)


Romanesque Imperial Cathedral on the Upper Rhine

As a free imperial city in the Middle Ages, Speyer was one of the most important cities of the Holy Roman Empire of the German (...)

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