Rhine river that originates in the Swiss alps flows though Germany and Netherlands before emptying into North Sea. The section of the river around the town of Koblenz in Germany is known as Middle Rhine. Here the Rhine river flows though the gorge for several kilometers. Several castles were constructed during medieval times. Few of them are in ruins but many of them renovated and some converted to hotels. Along with wineries, the castles in this area form the core of tourist interest.
I was in Netherlands for an official visit. There was a weekend to spare and one of my colleague suggested the Rhine gorge area. It looked interesting. With one of my colleague we decided to rent a car from Amsterdam and drive down. We expected to cover the distance of about 400km in 4 hours.
Our journey started with the visit to Ehrenbreitstein Fortress on the outskirts of Koblenz town. It provided a nice view of Rhine river and Koblenz town.
The castles are present in both sides of the river and the roads go next to the river on both sides. There are no bridges constructed in this section of Rhine and only way to cross is to use the ferry which is available at many locations in the valley. We decide to start on the left side of the road for the simple reason that our place of stay was situated on the left bank of the river!! But I missed the exits couple of times resulting in crossing Rhine river few times before joining the correct road!!
Stolzenfels castle was the first castle we visited. It required some amount of climb though forest to reach the fort. The walk was quite pleasant with some nice views of the Rhine valley. The medieval castle was destroyed in several wars and was rebuilt in Gothic revival style. Today, it stands renovated.
Our interest in castle was mostly the external architecture. Considering the entry fees at each castle and number of castles, we were choosy in deciding whether to get inside the castle or view it from outside. The beautiful views were always from outside. Also, many of the castles like Rhinestien are converted to hotels!!
Rhine river is used as major inland transport in Europe. Rotterdam, the second largest harbor in the world is situated at the mouth of the Rhine river. You can imagine how easily the potential is utilized!!
We found some nice spot to park and view the surroundings. At any place in Rhine river gorge, you just look into the mountains and you will see at least one castle. Such is the density of the castles in the area!!
The place of stay was in the outskirts of a small town of Bacharach. It was beautiful and it was quite refreshing to stay in such a peaceful place. I was also happy to find some vegetarian stuff in an Italian restaurant!!
The town also had fortifications, the remains of which could see even today. The castle Stahleck castles stands proud on top of a hill in the town. Well, that is now converted to hotel.
The night was peaceful in Bacharach. We woke up hearing chirping of birds!! It was time to continue out castle hunt by starting with the visit to nearby “Ruin Furstenburg castle”. As the name indicated it was in ruins.
After quickly visiting few more castles, we are at the end of our journey on the left bank. In the town of Bingen was a nice “Klopp castle” .The highlight was the watch tower and the entry is free!! The views are also great.
It was time to get to other side of the river. So, we take a ferry. Apparently that was also the place where another castle was situated in an island!!
We went in search of a castle in Loreley town and Google guided us to a very narrow road. I was not convinced that the road was good for our car to enter and hence I continued on the main road. I wanted to take a U turn but that was not legal nor it was possible due to narrow road. There was also a car behind me and to satisfy him I drive without stopping. No space to park on the side. I drove in that fashion for few kilometers!! All the way, I was cursing the driver of the car behind me. But suddenly we saw ourselves entering a very scenic area. Wow!! Thanks to the driver.
It was a good break from the castles. We rest for a long time and have lunch. It was time to return back though we had barely covered a fraction of the total list I had!! I still had to drive 400km to Amsterdam.