The Loreley Castle Route
The Loreley-Burgenstrasse (Loreley Castle Route) is the land of the legendary Loreley! A countryside dotted with castles which has remained unchanged for six centuries. Here, where the Rhine River meanders tortuously through the Middle Rhine Valley, the world-famous rocks of the Loreley issue from its waters. The narrowness of the valley, the untameable current and an eerie echo have undoubtedly played their part in the saga of blonde nymphs inhabiting the rocks. It is here, too, that we find the entry to the Loreley Castle Route. This romantic route is a narrow one with some seventeen local communities linking both the Loreley Valley itself and the picture book castles above it.
The Loreley-Burgenstrasse (Loreley Castle Route) is located in the Romantic Rhine holiday region, approximately 53 km to the northeast of Frankfurt-Hahn Airport (see map on bottom of page).
The Romantic Rhine is one of the nine holiday regions of Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate. This holiday region is characterized by Rhine Romanticism, that is still very much in the air today, as anyone who has visited this world-famous valley between Bingen/Rüdesheim and Koblenz will tell you. With its picture-book castles and ruins and its historical towns and sights, this impressive stretch of the river epitomises some of the loveliest river scenery in the world. Only a short time ago, it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Experience a journey back in time and let the diversity, the beauty and the culinary specialities of this region work their magic on you. ... read more about the Romantic Rhine holiday region
Here, where the Rhine River meanders tortuously through the Middle Rhine Valley, the world-famous rocks of the Loreley issue from its waters. The narrowness of the valley, the untameable current and an eerie echo have undoubtedly played their part in the saga of blonde nymphs inhabiting the rocks, who, with their alluring beauty and enchanting song, lured the hapless sailor to his doom. The origins of the legend recede into the mists of time, but it is Heinrich Heine's verses coupled with Friedrich Silcher's melancholic strains which have made the Loreley famous throughout the world.
A countryside dotted with castles which has remained virtually unchanged for six centuries, is a place where you have the feeling that you have been transported back into the age of robber barons. This feeling persists whether you are high above the Rhine River or whether you are ensconced in the castle for tolls and tithes on an island in the middle of the river itself. At one time, trading vessels coming up Rhine near Kaub had no option but to pay the fees demanded of them if they wanted to continue their journey. Wars there were in plenty, and during these the castles were sometimes totally destroyed and have since been reconstructed. Within the walls of these castles we often find well preserved testimony of times gone by such as furniture and other articles in daily use especially, for example, in the 17th century ‘Burg Pfalzgrafenstein’. At the castle of ‘Burg Maus’ we can experience the re-enactment of what for the lords of times past was a special privilege, namely, falconry. The courtyard of this great medieval fortification provides a place where the visitor can watch unique flight displays each day.
- Burg Maus
- Burg Maus (Thurmberg or Deuernburg), situated above St. Goarshausen-Wellmich. Erected by the Archbishop of Trier in 1356 and one-time residence of the Palatinate princes and dubbed ‘Maus’ (Mouse) by the lords of Katzenelnbogen because of its paramount position. Half destroyed in 1806 and reconstructed a hundred years later. The courtyard houses an eaglery and a falconry. Open daily with displays between mid-March and the beginning of October. Flights at 11 a.m., 2.30 p.m. and 4.30 p.m.
- The former house of Pfalzgrafenstein, ‘Pfalz’ in the common vernacular, situated on an island in the midstream opposite the town of Kaub. First erected in 1327 by King Ludwig of Bavaria who, it is said, even admonished the pope. The fortified wall came into being in 1340 and was subsequently enlarged in 1607. The commander's dwelling contains furniture dating from the 17th to the 19th century as well as household items of clay and pewter. It is open daily between 9 a.m. and midday and from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. except the first working day of the week and in December.
- Burg Reichenberg
- The castle lies about 4 km (2,5 miles) away from St. Goarshausen and is interesting both to art historians and those concerned with castle development. The foundations were laid in the year 1319 and completed between 1352 and 1380.
- The castle is to be found lying above Sauerburg Valley. The castle was erected between 1353 and 1361 and during the course of history fell into the hand of various owners. In 1507, for example, it belonged to the lords of the Palatinate; in 1617-68, the family of Brömser of Rüdesheim lived there and finally it passed to the imperial barons of Sickingen. Franz von Sickingen died in 1834 and his tomb is to be found in the local cemetery. on it, we can read: ‘Franz von Sickingen, imperial lord and head of this family, the last of his line. Died in misery.’ In the year 1689, the fortress was taken by the French and subsequently destroyed. Partially reconstructed in the years between 1909 and 1912. Today, the castle is a hotel.
- Burg Katz
- Burg Katz (Burg Katzenelnbogen) splendidly situated on a promontory high above St. Goarshausen was built by Duke Wilhelm II von Katzenelnbogen. In 1806 it was blown up and later in 1896-98 reconstructed. Today, the castle is a hotel.
- Burg Gutenfels
- Burg Gutenfels above the town of Kaub. Commisioned to be erected in 1200 by the Duke of Nüring (Stammburg Nüring near Königstein in the Taunus region). Broken up in 1807 and re-erected in the years between 1889 and 1892.
- Auel is among the smallest communities on the Loreley Castle Route. There are beautiful rambler's paths on which to relax and take your time. The idyllic village centre invites the rambler to sit and while away his time. Ancient barrows are to be found on the Horstberg's eastern slope.
- In the immediate vicinity of the Lorelev Plateau, the local community services offer opportunity to taste the local wine and see the cellars where it is matured and stored by the Winegrowers' Association there. The village centre is typical for this Rhine region and the fortified church dating back to the 11th century is still in good shape. The Wine Information Path at Loleley combines both activities — wine and walking. Panoramic views at Spitznack, Leisefeled or at Fünff-Seen-Platz giving onto the Rhine Valley and the wooded slopes of the Taunus.
- Situated in a deeply wooded valley lies the little community of Dahlheim where long, circular paths give the visitor opportunity to relax. High above, on ‘Dachskopf’ (Badger's Head Point, 1380ft above sea level ) one can enjoy something to eat and look out over a splendid view of the Taunus and Hunsrück. There is a small animal park for wild creatures which will interest children.
- This small place high above the Rhine was the scene of fighting during the Thirty Years War (1618-48). The so-called Swedish Entrenchment (Schwedenschanze) which recalls the times, offers the tourist an excellent, picturesque view over the Rhine Valley and the former imperial town of Oberwesel. Hikers' paths wend through sunny vineyards and naturally restored countryside down to the town of Kaub below. The winegrowers there will gladly open the doors of their cellars to the wanderers so as to offer them a taste the delights of ‘Dorscheider Kupferflötz’.
- Lying below the towering remains of Burg Gutenfels, this ‘Blücher town’ on the Rhine near the well-known Zollburg positioned on ‘Pfalzgrafenstein’ in midstream, Kaub presents itself as a historical city centre where we find still very well preserved houses in its celebrated Metzgergasse (Butcher's Lane). In the Blücher Museum, old times are relived once more. The town itself has an ecclesiastical oddity, namely, two churches of different denominations united under one roof. The remains of the former city wall is still a place to stroll upon. Romantic paths lead the walker to the heights above the town, through Blücher Valley and on to Weisel.
- The very beautiful situation of Kestert on the Rhine and the cherry blossoms which bloom every year in the spring make an excursion well worthwhile. The Hindenburghöhe heights offer a view over towards the so-called ‘Enemy Brothers’, the castle Burg Sterrenberg and Burg Liebenstein as well as the monastery at Bornhofen. In nearby Pulsbachklamm, natural beauty of a very special kind awaits the traveller on foot.
- Enfolded in woods, the small community of Lierschied invites the visitor to walk to ‘Fünftalerblick’ or to the panoramic viewpoint, Kadrich. The ‘Lierschieder Fußgraben’ is not only a popular meeting point for the Iocals in the summer, but a place where everyone can cool off in the summer heat.
- This is the most northerly point on the Loreley Castle Route. From here hiker's paths lead to the so-called ‘Enemy Brothers’ and to Kamp-Bornhofen. Equally of interest is the walk over the Hindenburg Heights behind it and from thence to Kestert.
- The winegrowing community of Nochern offers a place where the wanderer can attend the wine-tasting ceremony. Hiking is possible, too, following the nearby Wine Information Path which combines superb views with the harmonies of village life.
- Patersberg, a place of convalescence, together with unique panoramic views of the three fortresses, Burg Katz, Maus and Rheinfels, the famous picture postcard view of Burg Katz and Loreley. Especially recommended is the white wine produced here, one which has given Patersberg a special position among the wines grown in this area.
- This small community high in the hills offers the visitor and interesting baroque village church and long hiker's paths with tremendous views of the neighbouring mountains of Hunsrück.
- In Reichenberg we come across the ruins of a once formidable fortress, but which today is hardly known. However its ruins still stand as sturdy testimony to the medieval art of castle building while at its feet the little village of Reichenberg nestles comfortably.
- In the historical bakery, ‘Backes’, bread is baked according to a long tradition. The village church houses a rare organ manufactured by Schöler, and in the neighbouring Hausecker Wood, an original stretch of stone path has been brought to light which was laid down by the Romans some 2,000 years ago.
- Sankt Goarshausen
- This is the central point along the Loreley Castle Route framed by the fortresses of Katz and Maus and lying opposite its sister city of St. Goar with its mighty fortress, Rheinfels. In the historic Old Town, which lies between the two famous city towers, winegrowers offer the most exquisite wines each year from their cellars to visitors and others at the local wine festival. In the catholic church at Wellmich, valuable frescoes can be seen, while at the little church in the Ehrenthal district of the town one can find a church whose roof has been fitted out as a public house. Mozart was one of the most distinguished visitors to this oddity. A falconry which also sports the golden eagle in its courtyard is to be found in Burg Maus, while the Loreley Rocks, along with its world-famous panoramic view, offers the visitor Germany's most beautiful open-air theatre.
- Here, the imperial lord, Franz von Sickingen, has found his last resting place. In a neighbouring valley off the Rhine Valley, situated in the middle of thickly wooded gorges, a ‘Sauerburg’ has been affectionately erected above the little village below. The name stems from the water rising here which is rich in mineral salts and which is ‘sour’ to the taste (carbon dioxide content).
- The production of slate here continued into the 1980s, and we can still see the evidence of this activity today in the form of large quarries. At one time this industry was an important one for the area. Not long ago, a large Roman burial ground was found and later reconstructed. A small fire brigade museum celebrates a hundred years since its founding together with a lively presentation of its historical development.
- The village of Weyer stands on a southern slope and is superbly situated. From it here is possible to look for miles out over the countryside. There is plenty of parking space and circular paths through the countryside provide relaxation.
Of course, there s a lot to see and admire, but very often it s the things we experience which we recall with so much pleasure later. And there's much to experience which is quite unique in the neighbourhood of the Loreley Castle Route. One of these is an absolute must and that is a trip by steamer through the Loreley Valley — in any case during the day — but perhaps just once by night to music and dance against a romantic background. Those among us who like being active can swing their legs over the seat of a cycle or see everything on foot. All the rest can be left to the delights of a surrounding country-side seldom to be found anywhere else. Whether we take our joy in quietly angling in the midst of idyllic scenery or indulging in a lusty game of bowls in boisterous company, love culture or like taking part in festivals, go in for sport or seek ease for body and mind, the harmony of the recreation programme will satisfy every desire!
- Cycle Tours
- An extensive network of cycle paths along the Rhine as well as on the heights above it lead the rider to all the places of note in the area. These cater for both one-day tours and several day tours which accommodate for overnight stays. For more information about these, please contact the Tourist Information Bureau (Verkehrsamt) about routes and accommodation.
- Rambling and Hiking
- The impressive panoramic views afforded to the rambler along the heights above the Rhine are only one of the unforgettable elements of a hiking tour. Routes also reward the traveller with tours through vineyards, through deep woods and along the wild course of romantic, rushing streams. En route you will see the winding path of the Rhine below from ever new perspectives, and experience the past and the present with startling immediacy.
- From mid-March to the beginning of October one can enjoy the unique spectacle of falconry as it was once conducted in the Middle Ages at the fortress of Burg Maus. Ulrich Voell sends his birds which include as well as falcons, kites, the white-tailed eagle and the golden eagle into spectacular flight each day at 11 a.m. and at 2.30 and 4.30 p.m.
- Blücher Museum
- The former hotel called ‘Stadt Mannheim’ (City of Mannheim) in Kaub was during the weeks needed for BIücher's legendary crossing of the Rhine, his headquarters for that time. Today, it houses the BIücher Museum which contains a unique collection of militaria from the German wars of freedom. In the Loreley Museum which is within the walls of the medieval Stadtturm (City Tower) in St. Goarshausen, one comes across a wine and Sekt glass collection ranging over three centuries along with items and apparatus used in early wine cultivation and cellaring.
Getting to know the area and its people along the Loreley Castle Route means getting to know the winegrowers and vintners of these parts — and that's easy here. There's a lot of interesting possibilities not only for those acquainted with wine, but in particular for those who don't know much about the history of wine-making or of current wine production. A ramble could well begin on the so-called ‘Wine Information Path’ which takes us right through this winegrowing countryside with its incomparable panoramas all the way from the steep vineyards on the mountainside down into the valley below. A visit to the Loreley Museum, sitting in at a ‘wine seminar’ or taking a look at a wine cellar on one of the wine estates with its complementary wine-tasting session is all part and parcel of experiencing ‘wine culture’.
6.1 Wine Distillery
Where else has one the opportunity of looking over the shoulders of those producing traditional brands of liquor and being able there and then to taste them? You will be able to test the quality for yourselves in three such distilleries along the Loreley Castle Route and you will be most warmly welcomed on each occasion. The products of these distilleries which mature here find their connoisseurs far away from where they are produced.
6.2 Wine History
What we may call ‘wine history’ has been part of this region from time immemorial. At the Loreley Museum in St. Goarshausen the visitor will gain an interesting and at the same time graphic impression of winegrowing over the centuries along the Loreley Castle Route. It ranges from the time the first vines were, so to speak, ‘imported’ by the Romans right up to present-day methods of wine-making, an art and a science which has steadily developed through the ages despite the fact that tradition still plays a prominent role in its production.
The vineyards of the region with their characteristic slopes lying between Kaub and Lahnstein bring forth wines of the highest quality to barrel and glass. The best way to test the truth of this is to visit one of the wine cellars in the vicinity and taste the wines for yourself at the end of a guided tour of the cellar.
6.4 Wine Cellar
The traditional stone wine cellar where the wine matures in wooden barrels is still common to these parts. You will of course come across the more modern glass fibre or stainless steel tank as well. Many cellars are open for wine-tasting since it is well known that the wine tastes best straight from the barrel where it is made and where it matures, and there is wine-tasting to be had throughout the Loreley region.
6.5 Wine Festivals
The special flair as far as wine festivals are concerned today is their naturalness and their ancient origins and, just as much, the people of the locality. There is no such thing as a ‘stranger’ here. Everyone is drawn into the festivities and so experiences something of the region, its inhabitants and their historic traditions, matters which don't find their way into guidebooks.
Those who imagine that there's only wine and castles on the Rhine and that the food's nothing special are in for a big surprise. The cuisine in the region of the central Rhine is a versatile one and in particular traditional cooking from old recipes such as Rhenish ‘Sauerbraten’ along with, venison dishes and various sorts of fish specialities can compete with any of the best dishes in the world — so say the connoisseurs at least. The delights of the palate afforded by the local wines and local cooking are very often looked back upon as the highlights of a memorable holiday. Inviting little pubs and other places offering wine in the countryside as well as the cosy restaurants of the area are just pieces complementing a colourful mosaic of culinary delights in charming surroundings.
7.1 Rhenish Sauerbraten
Is there anyone indeed who doesn't know this dish? Once having got here it certainly shouldn't be missed. Today's chefs prepare the dish according to traditional recipes. A good glass of Rhenish wine goes with it of course and one can eat right royally as did our Rhineland ancestors.
7.2 Loreley Sundae
Vanilla walnuts, a touch of rum, grapes and ice-cream in deep-cooled local wine with pieces of apple and a spray of raisins topped with fresh whipped cream that's what goes into the ‘Loreley Sundae’ and also what accounts for its widespread popularity.
What is offered comes from the woods around: Stag, deer and mufflon as well as wild boar, ail of which make a menu of special dishes. The freshness of the meat is a conspicuous feature so that we can say, adopting the words of ‘Junior Fetz’, head cook in his parents' guesthouse, ‘The animals are bought and classified while they're still alive’. One special recommendation is a dish of wild boar served on pine needles or alternatively after Grandma Lina's very own recipe, cooked in gravy — well, 'Tally-ho!'.
7.4 Fish Dishes
Fish specialities along the central Rhine region have a long tradition so that it is small wonder that the fish dishes served hereabouts have both a special flair and are beautifully cooked. Along with typical local dishes, we can also find fish cooked according to international taste on the menus of restaurants.
It is said that the Loreley open-air theatre is the finest in the land. Whether the public is entertained by Rock or Pop music, traditional songs or classical performances, the sheer number of delighted audiences thronging to listen to musical events in this unique atmosphere with its special acoustics an the Loreley rocks above the Rhine is something which speaks for itself. However, it is not only the Loreley stage which provides a setting for outstanding festivals. In the castles themselves as well as at other localities we find events of the most varied kinds taking place. The wine festivals, too, are well-known throughout the region and beyond and are visited by people from all over the world. One festival in particular takes place once a year in September: the spectacle of the ‘Rhine in Flames’, a pageant of light and fireworks which is an unforgettable experience.
8.1 Loreley Open-Air
Because of its particularly good acoustics, the Loreley open-air theatre is notably well suited for the performance of classical music — especially operas. Musical events which take place within this peerless setting are a rapturous experience for the music lover, and for those yet to be acquainted with the classics, there could be no better introduction than this ‘live’ occasion.
8.2 Rhine in Flames
On the third Saturday in the month of September, the Rhine catches fire. This is a unique spectacle of light which has been taking place on the Rhine between the twin towns of St. Goarshausen and St. Goar for over fifty years. The play of fire, water, light on the river against the background of the mighty fortresses of Katz, Rheinfels and Maus produce a magic which delights guests to the Loreley from all over the world.
There is always something happening — whether it is art, music, wine festivals or a host of other activities. The Events Finder gives you an overview about what is on, where and when. Here you can search for events and festivals in the region.
Here you have direct access to the online accommodation reservation service of the Tourist Board of Rhineland-Palatinate. No other hotel reservation system on the Internet offers you such a broad and comprehensive list of accommodation in Germany's Rhineland-Palatinate regions. You can list accommodation, search accommodation, contact accommodation establishments and make online reservations.
- Hotel Finder — Loreley-Burgenstrasse (Loreley Castle Route)
- Holiday Flat Finder — Loreley-Burgenstrasse (Loreley Castle Route)
Frankfurt-Hahn Airport has no direct railway or bus connection to the Loreley-Burgenstrasse (Loreley Castle Route). However, the buses from the airport will take you to railway station where you can connect with Deutsche Bahn trains or local transport links.