Rhine Valley – Germany

21st Aug 2017

The Beautiful Rhine Valley and Heidelburg

Rhine Valley

The Rhine Valley elegantly cuts through the Slate Mountains between Bingen and Koblenz.  With its many castles – more than any other river in the world, it shows the romantic German landscape at it’s best, helped along by the narrow valley and it’s wonderfully untamed waters.

This region has more myths, sagas, legends and fairytales than most other places and these have certainly shaped the atmosphere of the area.  It has also had it’s fair share of historical and political events, medieval battles, religious Electoral feuds and spiritual and military conflicts.

The Rhine Valley is a gastronomic heaven with unique regional specialities. Rest and recuperate after a long walk with a Black Forest platter featuring the famous Black Forest ham. There are also many Michelin star restaurants in Alsace.
Thanks to it’s semi-continental climate the Rhine Valley landscape changes according to the seasons. In summer, the temperatures sometimes rise over 35°C helping the wine growing. In winter, the snow makes winter sports such as skiing possible.
View Rhine Cruise Holiday

Koblenze

Koblenz is wonderfully situated at the meeting point of the Rhine and Moselle Rivers, surrounded by four low hills. At 2,000 years old and founded by the Romans around a castle in the year 9 BC this town is a real delight.  The town centre has cozy lanes and narrow alleys, historic buildings and cultural monuments. If it’s history, fairytales and beauty you want, Koblenz may well be what you’re looking for.

Cologne

For centuries Cologne was the German metropolis. The city’s origins are Roman: the Emperor Claudius’s fourth wife Agrippina – Nero’s mother – was born here, and after their marriage he raised the city to Colonia status, from which it derives its name. Later, while upstarts like Munich or Berlin were still a twinkle in the eye of their founders, early medieval Cologne was the largest city north of the Alps, ruled by powerful archbishops and benefiting economically from its strategic location astride the Rhine.

This illustrious history has left its mark. Cologne may not be the most beautiful big city in Germany – it was visited too early and too often by the RAF during World War II for that – but it has a unique architectural inheritance which creates a powerful sense of historical continuity. Above all it is the cathedral, one of the most famous and instantly recognizable religious buildings on the planet, that Cologne is identified with. The city also has a highly developed sense of its own distinctiveness, expressed through the strong Kölsch dialect, the beer of the same name, and a fun-loving approach to life most apparent during Karneval. Though its museums and galleries are first-rate, there’s nothing museum-like about Germany’s fourth city: it’s the nation’s television centre, with four stations based here, and is also – despite rivalry from Berlin – still an important centre for the art world, with small commercial galleries peppering the inner city.

The local tourist office’s slogan Köln ist ein Gefühl (“Cologne is a Feeling”) neatly sums up the city’s appeal. You could tick off its sights over the course of a long weekend or so, but if you want to discover how multi-faceted, trendy, fascinating and downright enjoyable this marvellous city really is, you need to get away from the river and the tourist haunts and explore some of the city’s quarters where the locals actually live

Monastery

This former Cistercian monastery featured in the 1986 film The Name of the Rose, starring Sean Connery.  Dating from the 12th century and once home to 150 plus monks this graceful complex – in an idyllic little valley – went through periods as a lunatic asylum, jail, sheep pen and accommodation for WWII refugees.

Stolzenfels Castle

With its crenelated turrets, ornate gables and fortifications, Schloss Stolzenfels this castles epitomises the beauty for which the Romantic Rhine is famed. Originally built in the 13th century to impose illegal river tolls but rebuilt by a Prussian king in 1823 after it was ruined by the French. Today, the rooms largely remain as the king left them. There is an impressive exhibit of armour and weaponry.

Mainz

A lively locale which originates back to Napoleon’s occupation (1798 – 1814). Any visit to Mainz should include viewing the fabulous Dom, Chagall’s ethereal windows in the St-Stephan-Kirche (St. Stephen’s Church) or the first printed Bibles in the Gutenberg Museum.

Burg Rheinfels

Burg Rheinfels was once the mightiest fortress on the Rhine. Built in 1245 by the local count, Count Dieter V of Katzenelnbogen, its size and layout are truly astonishing with it’s subterranean tunnels and galleries. It withstood attack from 28,000 of Louis XIV’s French troops in 1692, just one of the many attacks made on it.

Burg Reinsein

During the 1820s this became the first Rhine castle to be converted – by Prussian royalty – into a romantic summer residence. The working drawbridge details medieval times but the interior is mostly neo-Gothic.

Cuisine

The Rhine Valley is a gastronomic heaven with unique regional specialities. Rest and recuperate after a long walk with a Black Forest platter featuring the famous Black Forest ham. There are also many Michelin star restaurants in Alsace.

Climate

Thanks to it’s semi-continental climate the Rhine Valley landscape changes according to the seasons.  In summer, the temperatures sometimes rise over 35°C helping the wine growing.  In winter, the snow makes winter sports such as skiing possible. View Rhine Cruise Holiday

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