Historic and Romantic Castles Dominate This Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage Site:
The Middle Rhine Valley is world famous for its concentration of beautiful and grand castles and castle ruins which are a thrilling feature of its rugged landscape. Most of these castles were built in the 12th or 13th centuries and in the Middle Ages they were the centre of cultural and political life, and also a central location for trade and transport.
Each of these castles has its own history, myths and legends and its dungeons probably hold many dark secrets. So rich is its historical heritage that the valley was recognized as a World Heritage Site in June 2002.
Castles Along the Rhine
One of the most pleasurable ways to view this belt of castles and castle ruins is from a riverboat cruising down or up the Rhine. In July 2013 we saw this section of the Rhine on our Uniworld cruise from Vienna to Paris, a reminder of our Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise when we enjoyed the leisurely sail down the Middle Rhine Valley. From Koblenz to Rüdesheim we saw so many of these castles, some more magnificent than others.
Trying to remember the names of the castles is a challenge when there are so many other competing points of interest on the cruise.
Some of the castles like the Burg Rheinstein, Schönburg and Castle Gutenfels have been converted into hotels, some have been bought and restored by wealthy individuals whereas others are left in ruins.
Cruising downstream, some of the Middle Rhine Castles are listed here. Where possible, I’ve linked them to photos from our Rhine Castles album:
- Stolzenfels Castle
- Castle Lahneck
- Marksburg– Now the headquarters and offices of the German Castles Association (DBV), who are responsible for the protection and preservation of castles and stately homes. Guided tours are available.
- Kurterische Burg
- Burg Maus – above town of Wellmich
- Burg Katz – privately owned
- Rheinfels Castle
- Castle Gutenfels – now operates as Schlosshotel Burg Gutenfels
- Schönburg– on a long-term lease to the Hüttl family since 1957 and who have been running it as a hotel and restaurant. For bookings see HERE.
- Pfalz Castle – King Ludwig’s toll castle sits in the Rhine like a stone ship
- Castle Stahleck – near the town of Bacharach, this castle is owned by the Rhenish Association for the Preservation of Monuments and Landscapes
- Fürstenberg Castle Ruins – Situated above Rheindiebach, the castle ruins are privately owned
- Sooneck Castle – near Niederheimbach is owned by the Rheinland-Pfalz
- Burg Reichenstein – This privately owned castle sits on a rocky promontory above Trechtingshausen. It’s available for hire for weddings and other functions.
- Burg Rheinstein – This is one of my favourites. Bought by a former opera singer Hermann Hecher in 1975. It has been refurbished and you can visit the castle and its museum, as well as rent a tower apartment or the family apartment for as little as EUR 150 per night
- Ehrenfels Castle Ruins– near Bingen