Rudesheim, and Cruising the Rhine River Castles

What a day this was! On Saturday, we spent the morning in the charming little wine village of Rudesheim, then cruised through a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle-lined 65 km of the Rhine River downstream from Rudesheim. After editing, I have 714 photos in today’s folder. That’s probably a new record for me 🙂

Finally, I got to see a sunrise instead of clouds or rain! This was shot looking up the Rhine from our docking position at Rudesheim at 07:56, but the colours went on for about 20 minutes.

Sunrise on the Rhine River at Rudesheim
There seemed to be a rush to get as many freight trains through town before people started moving around. This train was carrying about 100 new Audis. High on the hill is the famous Niederwald Monument depicting “Germania”, erected in 1883.

Train going through Rudesheim
At 9:00am, we boarded a couple of little trains for a 10-minute ride to Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Museum. This was one of the many excursions included in our cruise fare.

A little train ride in Rudesheim
Siegfried’s museum has an amazing collection of mechanical music-makers. I imagined myself busking on Main Street in Whitehorse with this little rig. Accompanied by my husky Monty instead of a monkey 🙂

The sound from this machine was wonderful! It’s housed in a former wine cellar. The museum was far better than anything I had imagined, and we both highly recommend a visit.

The oldest section of the museum building has a painted ceiling, this section depicting the expulsion of Adam and Eve.

At about 10:30, we boarded a gondola for a ride to the Niederwald Monument. There was a stand selling sparkling wine, and we bought a couple of little bottles, to get the day going in the right direction.

Gondola to the Niederwald Monument
The view of the Rhine Valley from the top is quite impressive.

The Rhine River valley at Rudesheim
The gondola gave some excellent views of the grape harvesting action as well as the broad scenic views. With the rain we’ve had recently, harvesting was going full speed ahead on this sunny (though chilly) day.

Grape harvesting at Rudesheim
Back down in Rudesheim, we ended up, as everyone does, at the tiny street Drosselgasse. There, we simply had to try their local wine specialty called Federweisser. Excellent – far better than we’d been led to expect. At the bottom end of the narrow street, we stopped again to try another local drink, Rudesheimer coffee – a brandy-flamed drink that’s created at the table.

Federweisser stand in Rudesheim
We made it back to the ship in time for our 1:00pm departure, but would have been happy to stay in Rudesheim for a couple of days. This is a look at some of the vineyards that are most famous for the Rieslings they produce.

Vineyards along the Rhine River
Okay, let’s get to the castles! Within minutes, we were nearing the ruins of Ehrenfels Castle, built for the Archbishop of Mainz in 1211. Like most of the castles in this region, it was destroyed by French troops in 1689.

Ehrenfels Castle
On an island across from Ehrenfels is this little toll station commonly called the Mouse Tower, from a legend about a nasty archbishop who was eaten by mice there. Nice story, but “maut” is French for “toll”, and that’s the actual source of the name.

Mouse Tower on the Rhine River
Rheinstein Castle is perched about 90 meters above the Rhine. Construction was begun in about 900 AD, and it was restored as a summer home in the 1820s by Prince Friedrich Wilhem of Prussia.

Rheinstein Castle
Reichenstein Castle was probably built in the 11th Century. Destroyed in 1254 (that’s a long story, revolving around the imposition of illegal tolls on river traffic by the lords of Hohenfels, stewards of Sooneck and Reichenstein), it was completely rebuilt in 1899.

Reichenstein Castle
Sooneck Castle is another from the 11th Century that was destroyed in 1253. It was rebuilt as a hunting lodge in 1834. There’s a huge quarry operation beside it, and a large freight boat was being noisily loaded with rock as we passed.

Sooneck Castle
Another view of Sooneck Castle.

We saw a few kayakers on the river. On a warm summer, it would be a great way to see this section of the river, over a week or two.

Kayak and vineyards on the Rhine
We met the lovely old paddlewheeler Goethe. Built in 1913, the 83-meter-long ship runs 11-hour cruises from Koblenz to Rudesheim and back during the summer.

The paddle wheeler Goethe
This is the ruins of Fürstenberg Castle, originally built in 1219 by the archbishop of Cologne. It was taken by the Spanish in 1620, the Swedish in 1632, and was finally destroyed by the French in 1689.

Furstenberg Castle

Nearing Kaub, we sailed close by Pfalzgrafenstein Castle, a toll castle sitting on Pfalz Island. On the hillside is Burg Gutenfels, which was built in 1220.

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle and Burg Gutenfels, at Kaub
Another view of Burg Gutenfels and the steep vineyards above Kaub.

Burg Gutenfels at Kaub, Germany
Rail lines run along both sides of the river here, and trains were common, both freight and passenger.

Many of the vineyards are so steep that looking across at them appears almost as an aerial view.

I’m not sure what the celebration was for, but it looked and tasted good to me 🙂

Approaching Loreley Rock.

Statue of Loreley.

We arrived at Boppard at about 3:30pm.

“Captain Ferdy” docking the ship. He’s been great – born into a shipping family, he’s very visible and personable, and clearly loves what he’s doing.

Let’s go up a chairlift for a view! Cathy’s not great with heights, but she was a trooper about this.

Us at the top.

One of the most dramatic of the many bends on the Rhine, with Boppard at the far right.


Rudesheim, and Cruising the Rhine River Castles — 8 Comments

  1. These pictures have brought so many memories back. We lived in Darmsadt for 3 years 91-94, and all of these places were our old hang outs. If I close my eyes I can even smell and taste everything again!! Thanks!!

  2. I was on the cruise but who can see it all? I am sooo glad to have your point of view and excellent camera! to show me things I missed. Loved the shot of workers in the vineyards.

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  4. Hi Murray,
    thankyou for sharing your trip down the Rhine, it helped me name some of the castles I took photos of earlier this year. Which cruise company did you go with? We were on an Avalon Romantic Rhine cruise and saw the same places you did.