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Rhine Valley
In search of Rhinegold treasure

The Rhine near Koblenz with Stolzenfels Castle in the background

Following the 1,320-km course of the Rhine from its source in Switzerland to the river's mouth in the North Sea, the most interesting section is without doubt the Middle Rhine and the Rhine Valley between Mainz and Bonn. This area where the Rhine cuts through the Slate Mountains between Bingen and Koblenz is also part of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO world heritage site. With its many castles, it is the epitome of a romantic German landscape. Few other regions around the world are so densely packed with authentic historical attractions.

The Song of the Nibelungs, written in 1200, tells how the sinister Hagen, said to be from the Hunsrück region, sank the legendary Nibelungs' treasure in the Rhine. The narrowness of the valley, the untamed river waters and the mysterious echo all play their part in the myth of the Loreley, the blond siren on the rock who once lured sailors to their death, here where the Rhine is at its narrowest, with her beguiling song and mysterious beauty. The legend is as old as time itself. There is still a Loreley today, but she is not in the business of enticing people to their doom.

Panoramic view of the Rhine across Stahleck Castle in Bacharach

Nowadays the Loreley open-air theatre hosts rock, pop and folklore events. This region has been shaped by myths, sagas, legends and fairytales, not to mention historical and political events, medieval battles, religious Electoral feuds and spiritual and military conflicts. The knights brandishing their swords and clanking round the castles in their armour are long gone. Horses' hooves are no longer heard in the courtyards; the minnesingers' lutes are silent. However, the castles continue to dream and you secretly wish that their walls could tell a story.

The Rhine has more castles along its length than any other river in the world. Built to protect power and possessions, they were not only well-fortified residences and refuges, but also lucrative customs posts and hideouts for infamous robber barons.

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Highlights in brief

  • Koblenz
    Deutsches Eck (German Corner), castles
  • St. Goarshausen
    Loreley rock, Burg Katz and Burg Maus (cat and mouse castle) with eagle and falcon centre, open-air stage
  • Bingen
    Wine-making town, Mouse Tower, home of Hildegard von Bingen, Klopp Castle
  • Rüdesheim
    Wine-making town, Niederwald country park, Germania statue, Drosselgasse lane, museums
  • Königswinter
    Siebengebirge hills, Drachenfels castle ruins, Petersberg hill
  • Bacharach
    Roman and wine-growing town
  • Lorch
    UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Boppard
    Archaeological park with Roman fort
  • Kaub
    Pfalzgrafenstein castle
  • Kamp-Bornhofen
    Sterrenberg Castle, Liebenstein Castle, Bornhofen Abbey