Germany’s most beautiful castles along the rivers Rhine and Moselle.
Castles on steep rocks, that are impossible to attack and magnificent palaces with sumptuous ballrooms. Would you like to feel like a princess or a proud knight? Then join us for the most beautiful castles along the Rhine and Moselle River in Southwest-Germany.
Castles and palaces are romantic, but also exciting testimonies of an earlier time. Although some of the castles have been destroyed centuries ago, many have been well preserved or were rebuilt and restored. Today, some castles and palaces are open for sightseeing and even turned into hotels and restaurants. Others simply create a wonderful picture of the surrounding landscape. We give you an overview of the most beautiful castles and palaces in one of the most romantic areas in Germany! Some castles are world famous, others are totally underrated and rarely visited.
Unesco World Heritage – The Middle-Rhine region
Many castles and palaces have been comfortably renovated and offer modern luxury not only for residents but also for guests. Especially on the Rhine and on the Moselle, excursions into the past have become an attraction for tourists from all over the world.
Since the Middle-Rhine region became Unesco World Heritage, visitor numbers are increasing. And every castle has its special charm. With the right program, whether it’s a knight’s armor in the museum or a colorful medieval spectacle on the castle courtyard. But not all castles are open to the public. Many are privately owned and are only open to the owners.
Some of the hilltop castles are not so easy to reach. At the top, there is little space. Cars have to be parked below the ring walls and the steep climb can be difficult. Those who have a passion for hiking on steep trails can do a hiking excursion on the “Rheinburgenweg”, which is one of the numerous “Fabulous Trails” over hills and valleys – around 200 kilometers from the Rolandsbogen near Remagen to the Mäuseturm near Bingen.
Picturesquely situated between vineyards, Castle Thurant is one of the oldest castles in the Moselle region. It stands partly on Roman foundations. The preserved building state dates back to the period after 1248.
There is not only a scary dungeon with various torture devices, a castle chapel with a baroque altar from 1779 and a rock garden with cherubs from the baroque period, are part of the complex as well. Especially interesting for lovers of fine wines is the old wine cellar. Modern winery products can be tasted after the tour in the near town of Alken.
The most beautiful castle ruin: Castle Pyrmont
On a slate rock near Münstermaifeld in the Eifel, high above the Elzbach lies Castle Pyrmont, which is often referred to as the “most beautiful ruin of the Eifel “. The castle was rebuilt several times, with traces of Baroque and Modernism since the 13th century.
The 25-meter high keep offers great views over the area, the 49-meter deep sedimentary-well gives you a view deep into the ground. The interiors of the castle, old furniture and equipment can be visited. In the restaurant with sun terrace feasts take place, also weddings with up to 300 guests can be celebrated in the castle. In the surrounding area, there are numerous hiking trails – for example, the “Pyrmont-rocky-trail”.
The glamorous: Castle Eltz
More than a million visitors have seen the most distinctive castle in the region, which has never been conquered or devastated in its long history. The fairytale-like building is surrounded on three sides by the Eltz river, once inhabited by several lines of the house Eltz.
The original building probably dates back to the 12th century. Its interior is just as famous as its silhouette. The “Rübenacher Untersaal” with a wooden ceiling from the 15th century, Gothic ornaments and figures in the dressing room, or frescoes from 1470 in the bedroom. The painting “Madonna with Child and Grape” by Lucas Cranach can be seen here, as well as tapestries, gold and silver jewelry or precious Viennese porcelain. The treasury in the cellar vault houses more than 500 exhibits from the 12th to the 19th century.
Highly recommended is a hike to the castle. For example from the hiking car park “Ringelsteiner Mühle” in Moselkern, along with the romantic Elzbachtal (35 minutes). Only for experienced hikers: From the trail parking lot “Müdener Berg” (to reach from the town Müden) along the sometimes steep rocks (45 minutes). From the town Karden, the castle can also be reached via the ascending vineyard path and a high plateau across the idyllic Eltzer Wald (1.5 hours). Or from the neighboring castle Pyrmont (2.5 hours).
Ghosts and bandits: The Reichsburg
More than 100 meters above the Moselle Valley is the Reichsburg, the landmark of the city of Cochem. The garden at the foot of the castle, which dates back to the 19th century, is well worth a visit: The design is based on a contrasting combination of greens, scents and flower colors of roses and lilac bushes.
A path blown up into the rock with a view of the Mosel valley leads from Martin’s gate in serpentines up to the keep. The castle was built around 1100 and is famous for legends and tales connected to it. Inside, you can find a knight’s hall and dining rooms, a dungeon, women’s chambers, a hunting room and a weapons room including inventory. All of these rooms are largely decorated in Neo-Renaissance or Neo-Baroque style.
Group tours for children are being offered, in which the little guests, dressed as knights or princesses. They will get to know the castle’s herb garden and are not only allowed to touch medieval armor but even wear it! Even a “ghost tour with bandit’s food” is offered inside the historic walls.
Decaying until the 19th century, the castle Reichenstein owes its current appearance to the baron of Kirsch Puricelli, who rebuilt the castle as an English-style residence for himself. Today it houses a collection of historical weapons, armor, hunting trophies and cast-iron stove plates in the castle museum. Also, works of art of the 15th to 18th centuries in the neo-Gothic chapel.
If you want to stay longer, you can stay in the hotel of the castle. Knights’ dinners or torchlight tours are offered in the restaurant. They also arrange weddings and other celebrations. For children, there is the book “Little King Charles”, who tells his experiences to the castle’s ghost every night.
Something for everyone: Castle Rheinstein
Castle Rheinstein offers not only historical sights such as glass paintings from the 14th century, ceiling frescoes and antique furniture: In the carefully restored walls, whose beginnings are dated to the 13th century, in addition to armor and cannons, you can also find romantic gardens and terraces overlooking the Rhine Valley to admire.
Prince Wilhelm of Prussia rebuilt the decaying castle in the 19th century with the builders J. C. von Lassaulx, Friedrich Schinkel and Wilhelm Kuhn. In the tavern “Kleiner Weinprinz”, a so-called “Tafernwirtschaft”, products of the region are served “classic and without much flourish”.
The lively: Castle Stolzenfels
Walled gardens, fountains, a stone bridge and a white coat of paint: As cheerful as Schloss Stolzenfels appears on its rock, it could actually be located in Italy. But you can find the ensemble with Mediterranean flair close to the region’s biggest city, Koblenz.
Built from 1242 to 1259 high above the Rhine by Archbishop Arnold von Isenburg, it was used until 1412 to levy the Rhine toll.
The city of Koblenz came in possession of the ruins after the defeat of Napoleon. Then gave them to the Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm. He commissioned the architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel with the reconstruction. In 1842 the inauguration was celebrated with a great costume ball. Schloss Stolzenfels was open to the public from this time on.
Today, the beautiful, enchanting complex, where you can experience the impressive living culture of the 19th century, is accessible through a serpentine path from the city within walking distance. Outside staircases and the inner courtyard of the castle provide a unique setting for concerts in the summer with excellent acoustics.
The invulnerable: Marksburg Castle
The Marksburg Castle near Braubach is unique in its location and substance. In its long history, it has never been destroyed. Many experts consider it a symbol of the Middle Rhine castle- and defense-architecture. A picture-book castle, especially for little knights and damsels.
The fortress is also the starting point and destination for a nature trail (about 45 minutes) with 14 plates along the way, on which not only a lot of interesting information about the medieval architecture can be found. Most of the castles exhibits are originals from the 15th to 17th century.
The German Castle Association, which has its headquarters here, is restoring the building according to current knowledge. Thus, the castle gradually gets back its late medieval appearance. With a guided tour you can visit the castle.
For explorers: Rheinfels Fortress
Walking with a flashlight through underground passages: If you are looking for adventure, for both young and old discoverers, you find it in the fortress Rheinfels near the town of St. Goar. The huge complex also offers visitors an extraordinary flora/fauna and great views of the Middle Rhine. The castle, today one of the largest ruins along the Rhine, dates back to 1245.
The castle museum is housed in the former so-called “Frauenbau”, which was cultivated in the 14th century. There are not only old writings, display boards and a model of the fortress from around 1600. In the basement, you can find old tools, a bookbindery and the old Rheinfelsapotheke (pharmacy) to visit. Routes were created through the extensive terrain. By appointment, visitors can test their knightly suitability and try out sword fighting, or crossbow-shooting. A romantic weekend for two can also be booked at the Schlosshotel Rheinfels.