Marksburg is a castle on the Rhine River which is part of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress was used for protection rather than as a residence for royal families. It is one of only two fortress castles that has never been destroyed and the only one that had never fallen into disrepair. It March 1945, the castle was badly damaged by American artillery fired from across the Rhine. But of course it was repaired after the war. It is the best castle I've ever visited. We got to go through secret doors and dark narrow stairways!!
After our tour of the castle, we went to lunch at the castle cafe. We sampled three kinds of German sausages; white, curry and bockwurst. We also had to sample the local beer!!
After lunch, the boat started sailing south on the Rhine River. We left the Mosel (or Moselle) River at Koblenz and turned south onto the Rhine.
This afternoon we're sailing down the scenic Rhine River. This part of the Rhine is the most densely populated with castle. So here's what we saw:
Construction began in 1356 and continued for the next 30 years by successive owners. It was built to enforce Trier's recently acquired Rhine River toll rights. If you built a castle you could charge the river traffic a toll just for passing in front of your castle. This is the second castle, next to Marksburg, that was never destroyed, but fell into disrepair in the 16th and 17th centuries. Restoration of the castle was undertaken between 1900 and 1906. Today it is home to falcons, owls and eagles.
It is a castle ruin, built in 1245. After expansions, it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley and historically covered five times its current area. Although the castle is in ruin, some of the outer buildings are now a luxury hotel, wellness center and restaurant.
The castle stands on a ledge looking downstream from the riverside. It was first built around 1371. It was bombarded in 1806 by Napoleon and rebuilt in the late 19th century. It is now privately owned and not open for visitors.
Loreley (also Lorelei):
The Loreley is a 433 foot high, steep slate rock on the right bank of the Rhine. The rock and the murmur it creates have inspired various tales. An old legend envisioned dwarfs living in caves in the rock. Another tale was written by a German author. It first told the story of an enchanting female associated with the rock. In the poem, the beautiful Lore Lay, betrayed by her sweetheart, is accused of bewitching men and causing their death. Rather than sentence her to death, the bishop consigns her to a nunnery. On the way, accompanied by three knights, she comes to the Lorelei rock. She asks permission to climb it and view the Rhine once again. She does so and thinking that she sees her love in the Rhine, falls to her death; the rock still retains an echo of her name. Another tale describes a female as a sort of siren who, sitting on the cliff above the Rhine and combing her golden hair, unwittingly distracted shipmen with her beauty and song, causing them to crash on the rock.
Here's a picture of a castle-like structure. It is really a tunnel for the road along the river.
City of Oberwesel:
As in many of the region's towns, Oberwesel quite possibly had its beginnings as a Celtic settlement. The Romans later maintained a horse-changing station with a hostel here. In 1309, it lost its status as a Roman Imperial City and fell to the French and later to the German. Wine-growing, fishing, trade and handicrafts helped the town gather wealth. It's still a wine-growing region.
Another very ancient castle, first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. The castle was burned down in 1689 by French soldiers during the War of the Grand Alliance. It remained in ruins for 200 years until it was acquired by the German-American Rhinelander family who bought the castle from the town of Obersesel in the late 19th century, and restored it. Since 1957, it's been operated as a hotel and restaurant.
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle (Pfalz Castle):
This castle was a toll castle on an island. This former stronghold is famous for its picturesque and unique setting.
City of Bacharach:
This was the most important transfer point for the wine trade, as barrels were offloaded here from the smaller ships that were needed to get by the big reef in the Rhine upstream. The timber trade also brought the city great importance.
City of Lorch:
A small town belonging to the Rhine Gorge World Heritage Site.
This castle has a drawbridge and portcullis, which are typical of medieval castle architecture and defenses. The castle is open to the public. The courtyard is known as the Burgundy Garden after the Burgundy grape vine growing there. The vine is approximately 500 years old, still produces grapes.