The tiny village of 140 inhabitants was a city in the high Middle Ages, before it sank into insignificance during the French era at the end of the 17th century and time stood still. Construction activities came to a standstill, which is why Beilstein today has one of the best preserved historic sites on the Mosel. The place, which is also called miniature Rothenburg or ‘Sleeping Beauty of the Mosel’, is dominated by the ruins of castle Metternich, which once belonged to the royal dynasty of the same name. In July and August of each year, the Beilstein fairytale summer takes place, at which the Puppet Theater from Cochem performs fairy tales in the viticulture museum.
Romantic castle in the dense forest
Tucked away in the dense forest of the River Elz Valley, Burg Elz is considered the prototype of a German castle. It was never found by the troops of Napoleon, so it wasn't destroyed. In 1268 it was divided among three descendants who had to live together in the narrow castle. Each line built its own tract over the centuries and added countless turrets, bay windows and other elements. Guided tours are offered. You can access the castle on foot from Moselkern or from the parking area above Müden, or by car via Münstermaifeld and Wierschem.
Medieval half-timbered town in the shadow of a castle
During his trip to the Rhine Victor Hugo noted on Bacharach, it was “one of the most beautiful cities in the world”. High above the village sits the mighty Stahleck Castle from the 11th century. Until today the town is surrounded by a 14th-century city wall. It is one of the best preserved fortifications on the Middle Rhine. Of the 16 defense towers, nine are still preserved. The wall on the Rhine front is publicly accessible. Bacharach owed its obvious richness in the Middle Ages to the viticulture and the rapids at the Binger Loch, which could not be passed by larger ships. The goods were therefore reloaded on smaller ships in the port of Bacharach.
Winegrower town with a great history
The former imperial city is located on a bend in the Rhine, the Boppard Hamm. Vineyards on the surrounding mountains characterize the place as well as tourism. History goes back to the stone age, as evidenced by the 13,000-year-old stone tools found in 2001 in an excavation. The beginning of the city Boppard is however a Roman fort named Bodobriga, which secured the Roman-Germanic border and today is considered to be the best preserved Roman castle in Germany. The remains can be visited in the archaeological park. The double-towered Severus Church with Romanesque mural paintings bears witness to its heyday in the High Middle Ages. Today the local history museum resides in the tower of the Electoral Castle.
Medieval half-timbered house, romantic squares
The village is situated at the end of the Cochemer Krampen, a 20 kilometre long Moselle arch, which is considered to be the most beautiful section of the Moselle. Like many places there, Cochem was already populated by the Romans and Celts. Large parts of the old town were destroyed in the Second World War, but in the meantime Cochem presents itself as a lively small town with rich historical buildings and romantic squares and alleys. Important buildings of the medieval city fortification are still preserved. Historical half-timbered houses can be found above all at the market with its fountain and the baroque town hall as well as in the side streets. Today the Cochem Cultural Centre resides in the Capuchin monastery from 1623.
Via ferrata with great views
The best views over the large Rhine loop and the vineyards of the Boppard Hamm can be admired from the Gedeonseck, to which a chairlift runs from Boppard. There's a nice restaurant at the top. In the hinterland begins one of the largest forests of Rhineland-Palatinate, through which many hiking trails lead. Directly on the steep slope below the Gedeonseck, a via ferrata has been set up that offers hikers who are free from giddiness and well-equipped a climbing experience with a magnificent view. (There and back: 5 kilometers, 2:30 hours, up and down: 260 meters)
A tale of nymphs, mountain spirits and beautiful virgins
Already in the medieval ages dwarves, nymphs and mountain spirits were blamed for the dangerous currents and echoes at the 130 meters high Lorelei rock . The beautiful maiden however, is an invention of the poet Clemens Brentano. He describes Lore Lay as a girl from Bacharach, who is considered a witch because of her beauty. She is forced to join a monastery, but on her way, out of lovesickness she plunged from the rock named after her into the Rhine. Brentano's ballad touched the romantic feeling of his time and triggered further Loreley stories. The most famous poem was made by Heinrich Heine, in which Loreley, like an antique siren, captivates the Rhine sailors with her song and beauty, which is why they perish in the dangerous current on the rocky reef.
A masterpiece of German Romanesque architecture on the Vulcansee
The high medieval monastery complex is located on the largest volcanic lake in the Eifel, the Laacher See. The Abbatia ad Lacum (Abbey by the lake) was built in 1093. The church is considered one of the most magnificent Romanesque buildings on German soil. It has no less than six towers; the magnificent western entrance is called paradise. The 13th century cloister was restored in the 19th century. In 1933 the Lord Mayor of Cologne, Konrad Adenauer, hid in the abbey for a year as “Brother Konrad”. He had been removed from office by the Nazis and was finally arrested.
The epitome of German castle romanticism
The hilltop castle from the 12th century towers high above the Rhine on a rock. It is the only medieval castle in the Rhine valley, which was never destroyed and therefore has a long, varied history. Probably already around 1117 a castle existed. Anyway, one hundred years later, it was in the possession of the powerful family of Eppstein, which used the Marksburg as a customs station. In the middle of the 14th century, the castle received its present, Gothic appearance. At that time, the St. Mark's chapel was built, after which the castle was henceforth named. Under Napoleon, the castle was a military hospital and later a prison. Scribbles of inmates can still be seen in the chapel today. In 1900, the neglected building was finally restored. Today, the Marksburg is a romantic castle from the picture book.
Forests, hamlets, vineyards
With a total length of 365 kilometres, the Moselsteig is one of the longest long-distance hiking trails in Germany. It follows along the Moselle in 24 daily stages from the German-French-Luxembourg border to its estuary in the Rhine at the “Deutsche Eck” in Koblenz. The Moselsteig is extremely diverse: Sometimes it leads through woods, sometimes through vineyards, sometimes along the banks of the Moselle, but also through quiet side valleys or over scenic hillsides. In between, you will pass ruined castles and ancient villages where time has stood still. If you only want to walk one day, you can take the train and bus back to the starting point after the hike.
Medieval castle on an island
The castle on an island in the Rhine is like the Marksburg and the castle Boppard one of the few undestroyed and hardly changed castles in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. It has been built by Ludwig the Bavarian, who at the beginning of the 13th century was also Count Palatine and German Emperor. Since he needed a lot of money for this office, he had a customs duty castle built in the Rhine to profit from the heavy traffic on the river. However, the baroque tower helmet, which today characterizes the appearance, dates only from 1714. One hundred years later, on New Year's Eve 1813/14, the castle suddenly became the focus of world history, when the Prussian Field Marshal Blücher in a top secret action with 60,000 soldiers, 20,000 horses and as many cannons crossed the Rhine at Kaub to hunt Napoleon Bonaparte's troops.
High above Cochem rises the largest hilltop castle on the Moselle. Situated on mighty rock, the Reichsburg with its bay windows and pinnacles is a majestic sight. The medieval castle belonged to the Electors of Trier when it was destroyed by the troops of King Louis XIV in the War of the Palatinate Succession. In the 19th century, Louis Ravené, the equally rich and crazy Berlin commercial councillor, had the ruins restored in neo-Gothic style. Guided tours through the impressive interiors are offered. Besides on Fridays and Saturdays rustic knight meals are offered. The so-called “Gasterey nach Art der alten Rittersleut” is a convivial evening with a four-hour programme.
Fabulous castles, sunny vineyards
The 320 kilometer long hiking trail follows the Middle Rhine Valley on the Eastern side. It starts in Bonn and after 17 days ends in Rüdesheim. The mark is a blue rectangle with a white “R” stylized as a river. From almost every place along the Rhine there are paths leading to the Rheinsteig. The longest and most beautiful is the 17th day from St. Goarshausen to Kaub. Here you can experience the Middle Rhine Valley in all its splendor. Vineyards, quiet side valleys and magnificent view points – especially the Loreley – make the hike unique. (21 kilometers, 6:30 hours, up: 753 meters, down: 750 meters)