Bernkastel-Kues – A Most Charming Town on the Moselle River:
|RIVER CRUISE GUIDE – BERNKASTEL-KUES|
PARIS & THE HEART OF EUROPE – UNIWORLD RIVER CRUISE – DAY 14:
Medieval Bernkastel-Kues, with its narrow streets, historic half-timbered buildings, quaint shops and rustic wine taverns, has attractions to charm any visitor. It was one of the most scenic Moselle towns we stopped at on our Vienna to Paris river cruise. And as an extra temptation for wine-lovers, Bernkastel-Kues is also well-known as a viticulture centre; visitors come here to enjoy Moselle wines, especially during the annual Weinfest der Mittelmosel in September, the largest wine festival held in the Middle Moselle region.
Bernkastel-Kues sits on both banks of the Moselle River, with Kues on the left bank and Bernkastel on the right. Our river boat, the River Princess, was moored a short distance from the Tourist Information office building and from there it was an easy stroll into Bernkastel historic centre. The town itself is organized into several small, interlinking squares which allow visitors to have an intimate appreciation of the features of each square.
Our sightseeing tour started at Karlsbader Platz, just behind the tourist information office. Karlsbader Platz (“Karlovy Square”) is dedicated to Bernkastel’s twin town of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic. The interesting fountain in the square is a gift from their Czech twin town and there is a matching fountain that stands in the plague memorial in Karlovy. In the cobbled street of the square you will see the coat of arms of the two towns.
The streets branching off from Karlsbader Platz, such as Moselstrasse and Schwanenstrasse, are home to many shops and hotels and at Hebegasse 5 we made a brief stop at the Hotel Doctor Weinstube whose restaurant and bar area is itself like a tourist attraction.
The medieval Marktplatz (market square) is picture-postcard pretty and from the moment we stepped into the historical market square, I was immediately attracted to this town – yes, it was love at first sight!
All around this square are many medieval and Renaissance timber-framed buildings, each one with a story to tell, including the very narrow Spitzhäuschen (Pointed House), a winegrower’s house from 1416 and the Renaissance Rathaus (Town Hall). Many of the timber-framed buildings now house wine taverns, shops or cafes.
Another interesting building in the Marktplatz is the Adler Apotheke whose windows are used as a calendar to countdown to Christmas. In the centre of the square is the St. Michaelsbrunnen (St Michael’s Fountain).
If you want to learn more about Bernkastel, the Heimatmuseum, the local history museum, is housed in the Graacher Tor, the only remaining medieval town gate into the old town.
Towering over Bernkastel-Kues are the 600-year old St Michael’s Church Tower and Burg Landshut which was the former residence of archbishops and electors until it was destroyed by fire in 1692. Landshut Castle is now a popular spot to go to for views over the Moselle region. If you don’t fancy walking up there, a very bright yellow Burg Landshut express bus takes visitors up there.
No visit to Bernkastel is complete without tasting some “Bernkasteler Doctor”, Bernkastel’s most famous wine. Near the riverfront you can see the Doctorbrunnen, a fountain that tells the legendary tale of how an elector was cured by this famous wine.
No Time for Kues
During our short visit to Bernkastel we only managed to see the main attractions on the Bernkastel side of this town and we did not make it to Kues on the other side of the river. Kues was the birthplace of philosopher, cardinal and polymath Nikolaus von Kues and the Gothic Cusanusstift (St Nikolaus Hospital) and the Wine Cultural Centre are a couple of the interesting sights in Kues.
Our short stop at Bernkastel has given us a taste of what this town has to offer and we would love to come back to spend more time here.