castles on the rhine

Uncategorized May 28, 2024

When I booked our Rhine River cruise, I think I expected scenic vistas of snow-topped mountains and Sleeping Beauty Castles.  What we got for the first few days was flat countryside resembling the American Midwest, and industrial ports-of-call surrounded by warehouses and factories.  Like every major city anywhere, the cities on the Rhine thrive on commerce, not tourism.

Finally, three days into our voyage, came the visual payoff.  Beginning at the small village of Rudesheim is the most scenic part of the river, designated a UNESCO historic sight for its castles and fertile vineyards covering steep hills and high crags.  It was breathtakingly stunning. Even on the wet and windy day that we passed through, the scenery did not disappoint.

In Lahnstein we docked and had the opportunity to tour one of the smaller castles, Burg Lahneck.  I had learned a smattering of German before our trip and was slightly confused when I heard the castles on the Rhine referred to as “burgs”.  I thought the word for castle was “schloss”.  Schloss really means palace.  Burg Lahneck felt more like a fortress than a palace.  And that’s because it was.  All the castles on the Rhine were originally built as fortifications or toll stops, restricting free commerce and protecting small fiefdoms. 

We could not see the entire castle, because the upstairs is still a vacation home for the owners.  But what struck me was its remoteness and its primitiveness.  The kitchen was tiny and all the rooms were lit with candles, not electricity. 

Most of the castles not in disrepair have been converted to hotels.  But they retain that savage beauty of a more bellicose past. 

Love, Liz