Fireworks have a specific magic. No one can possibly elude the luminous transient colourful pictures in the sky. But the fireworks in Middle Rhein Valley are extra special. Maybe because then the valley unfolds its undoubtedly romantic nature best. Throughout the year five of these fireworks, called “Rhein in Flammen” (Rhein in flames), are being displayed between the cities of Koblenz and Bingen. Since years I am watching especially the one in Bingen on TV but it needed dear Dee and hubby to make me go and see this with my own eyes. Luckily Burg Rheinstein (Rheinstein Castle) is open during this event since 2011. Since I like this castle very much because of the loving way the owners have restored it and care for it, we decided to watch the beginning of the fireworks from there. The castle is located high on the valley slope and that made it the perfect location. And no TV can ever transfer the magic of this fireworks event because one must be there, in the dark, on the castle, with an almost 360 degree view of fire and illumination. We stood on the terrace at approximately 22:30 when the ship parade arrived from the north (village of Trechtinghausen). This ship parade is an essential part of the fireworks event because individual fireworks are being shot from several points along the ship routes, until it all culminates in Bingen with a superb finale. The approximately 50 ships of all sizes sail almost silently, which is strange because they move against the river current. But maybe we didn’t hear them because we were high on the castle? The sight of the ships is amazing and in retrospective this was the best of the fireworks for me: they are illuminated in all the colours of the rainbow, mirroring the colours of the fireworks. We stayed on Rheinstein Castle until approximately 23:00 because the ships were already close to Bingen and out of our sight, and we didn’t see the fireworks anymore which then have been shot from Bingen’s surroundings. So we went back to our car and drove to Bingen. Luckily we could park on the bridge that leads to the ferry port. It was locked for cars but at this late hour no one did control anymore. From there we could see the final of the fireworks – fantastic!
Rhein-in-Flammen in Bingen takes place every first weekend in July.
We booked ourselves into a small hotel in Bad Kreuznach, since the reasonable hotels in Bingen were all fully booked. Bad Kreuznach is located only 15 minutes south of Bingen. The best decision we could do was to drive to Rheinstein Castle because we could easily park at the river and because there were not as many people up there as it would have been the case on any high elevation spot in Bingen or in Rüdesheim. Nevertheless we had to pay the entrance fee for the castle (5 Euro, their entrance fee for special events). But that didn’t matter at all – the feeling up there was fabulous!
Location of Rheinstein Castle on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D., July 2011 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)
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The modern Basilka of St. Martin sits on a sacred Roman temple that dates back to a time before Christ. The first mention of the Christian abbey on the site in historical records dates from as early as 793, but this Romanesque building was destroyed in 883. The next church noted was built in 1230, but again destroyed by fires just over a century later. Most of the modern building dates from its rebuilding later in the 15th century, although damage caused by the bombing of the Rhine caused the nave and part of the altar to collapse. The church was originally a simple Stiftskirche, a church of the people, but the pope made it a full Papal Basilica in 1930.
The legends which interweave with the most beautiful Rheinstein Castle are a bit confusing – similar to the famous saying “ask 5 people and you get 7 opinions”. But on the other hand, legends have literally been “handed” over from generation to generation and it is most logical that small deviations happen. However, the storyline is similar in this case. But let’s start with the historically proven background:
Originally it was built as a watch castle to control the neighbouring robber knights at Reichenstein Castle in 13th century. These days it was called Bonifatiusberg (St. Bonifaz was the patron saint of neighbouring Mainz Archbishopric) and it changed names quite often. End of 13th century, King Rudolf von Habsburg came to Rheinstein Castle to plan his action against the neighbouring gang of robber knights on Sooneck and Reichenstein Castle (see Reichenstein Castle, later on this page). Over the following years and centuries, the castle fell into disrepair but was bought and restored by Friedrich Ludwig of Hohenzollern early 19th century as a summer residence. It was only then when it was renamed Rheinstein, following the “Rhein romaticism” trend of these days (Clemens von Brentano, Achim von Arnim, Lord Byron, etc). The neogothic chapel outside of the castle walls is burying ground for Friedrich Ludwig and his family. The castle remained in the hands of Hohenzollern family until 1975, when it was bought by opera singer Hermann Hecher. He and his family, with the help of state Rheinland-Palatinate and countless friends, have managed to repair and renovate the castle to his todays’ beauty.
There is of course a beautiful legend woven into the castle: Diethelm, once a knight who lived at Rheinstein Castle, had a beautiful daughter, Gerda, who eventually fell in love with Kuno of Reichenstein, nephew of the neighbour’s Reichenstein Castle knight. These days it was not appropriate to visit the future father-in-law and tell him that he will marry his daugther, but a higher ranked and older relative had to do this. So it was Guenzelin of Reichenstein, whom Kuno asked to perform this task. Old Guenzelin agreed but had another agenda in his mind, which was to tout for him. And as he had enough money (while Kuno didn’t), Diethelm was more than happy to give his daughter to the old man. Of course, both Gerda and Kuno were desperate but nothing helped to convince Diethelm to rethink his decision. But at the day when Guenzelin came to pick up Gerda for the ceremony down in the little church at the river, suddenly a swarm of bees were surrounding Gerda’s horse which started to run off. Guenzelin raced after her…. but his horse stumbled, he fell and broke his neck. And it was Kuno who rescued her and of course was allowed to finally marry her.
It has never been solved why or where the bees came from but the legends say that the water fairies often appear as bees and so Father Rhein and his folk did manage some justice in this family betrayal.
Burg Rheinstein can be visited of course. From March 15 to November 15 it is open daily (9:30 – 18:30) and during November 16 to March 14 only on weekends. Entrance fee is 4 € (and lower fees for kids and groups). It is included in the 10 castle ticket (10 castles along the Rhein for 19 €, which would cost 30 € in total if visited without this pass).
The castle offers many special attractions for visitors, such as a night tour or special tours for kids. And it has a nice garden and café for relaxation.
I like this castle very much. For me it is one of the most beautiful ones along the Rhein and the owners do take care of it with love and affection.
Oh and on the recent trip with my colleague from Brazil I have learnt that this castle and neighbour Reichenstein Castle can easily be confused due to the similarity of names:
Rheinstein = Rhein (river) and -stein = rock
Reichenstein = Reich/en (rich) and -stein = rock.
Update, December 2010:
Since May 2010, Marco Hecher, son of the owners, has reopened the little restaurant on the castle ground. I saw a TV documentation and yes, it seems to be better than ever. The restaurant is called Kleiner Weinprinz and has its own website.
Summer: Wednesdays to Sundays, 12:00 – 18:00,
Winter: Fridays to Sundays, 12:00 – 17:00.
Burg Rheinstein on Google Maps
© Ingrid D., July 2008, update May 2011: website exchange.
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Now we have to look in the centre of the River, as this is where Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is!
I have seen it so many times on TV and Travel show's, and now I am seeing it for myself, and yes, it really does look like a Boat! I love it, it is different!
This Castle isn't quite as old as some of the others as it dates to 1326/27. It actually was built because of a dispute over the Rhine toll between the Pope and King Ludwig of Bavaria. Wow! Two very powerful people!
The King, had made some dangerous enemies by raising the toll in Kaub. Pope John XXII wanted to excommunicate King Ludwig and take action against the Kaub toll, but was ignored!
Instead, King Ludwig ordered that a tower be built on the rocky island of Falkenau in the middle of the Rhine to control the waterway on the right side of the river. Between approximately 1338 and 1342, a defensive wall was built around the tower.
Shaped like a boat, in 1607 it was renovated. A long, hexagonal defensive wall now encloses the pentagonal tower, a portcullis was added and in the 1970's, the baroque colour scheme of red and white was restored.
IT IS OPEN.....
April 1 until September 30: 9 - 1PM & 2-6PM
October 1 until March 31...Closes at 5pm. Last admission 30 min. before closing time.
In December and on 1st working day of each week - Closed.
How to get there:
Car park between the B42 and the railway; the pier for the passenger ferry to the island (and the car ferry to get to the B9) is around 1½ km outside of town. The ferry to Pfalzgrafenstein runs approx. every half hour.
From the railway station: Go towards the town centre, then to the riverbank of the Rhine, from there it’s around 5 min. to the ferry
Camp Bornhofen is the Town situated alongside the River near the "Hostile Brother's Castle." This is a timber rafting and shipping community, but is also known for the famous pilgrimage church and monastery dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Boat processions carrying pilgrims to see the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary, have been taking place since the middle ages and cannot be found anywhere else in Germany.
Our next stop is Boppard, and this is where we alight from the Boat, and return to Bingen by Train. It was a marvellous Cruise, one my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed. There was so much to see, the weather was good, and it was relaxing, we couldn't ask for more!
Thankyou for coming virtually with me on this part of the River Rhine Cruise.
Still more Castle's to see, and the next are located on the right side, and are quite close to each other. They are Castle's Sterrenberg and Liebenstein, otherwise known as "The Hostile Brother's' because of a story.
Now, the story goes like this....
"Two hostile brothers supposedly fought against one another from their neighbouring castles. While the defensive wall between the two castles could be one piece of evidence for this myth, in reality it simply constitutes the second curtain wall of Sterrenberg Castle. In fact, there never seems to have been an armed conflict between the castles."
Sterrenberg Castle, first mentioned in 1034, is the oldest Rhine castle still preserved today. Built on top of a rock, a more recent building resembling a great hall with a circular stair tower is now the so-called women’s building, enlarged and turned into residences in 1970. Since 1972, the Rhine side has housed a castle pub designed in the Gothic style.
Liebenstein Castle, first mentioned in 1294/95, only 150 metres further south, was built in the 13th century.
Several residential towers were integrated into the ring wall, the oldest of which is still preserved. At the ditch, it is possible to see the remains of the castle gate, including the drawbridge.
Since 1592, the castle has been declared uninhabitable.
We didn't do this, but on watching the Boat's following the firework's along the River Rhine, I thought what a good idea this was!
The Firework's begin at 10.20pm, but the Boat's depart a lot earlier.
By going by Boat, you get to see all the seven Firework Station's, which are Trechtingshausen, Assmannshausen, the ferry near Rheinstein Castle, opposite the ruins Ehrenfe ls, castle Klopp and Rudesheim ferry between Bingen and Rudesheim.
This is another great way to see the Firework's!
When I checked the website, I see most of them include Dinner. What a romantic way to spend an evening!
Details of price's and booking is located on the website below.
Since 1977, these fireworks " night of magic fire " have been held on the Rhine between Trechtingshausen and Bingen in July.
On a fine and clear night, Ingrid [Trekki] took us through Bingen, which was already busy with people and traffic, to the Rheinstein Castle.
Parking was quite easy here, so after locking the Car, it was time to climb the track to the Castle.
Ingrid had thought this out really well, as from the top of the Castle, the view was magnificent!
We not only saw the view in daytime, but when night fell, and the firework's began, it was spectacular!
Not only were we viewing the firework's, but we were looking down upon a flotilla of 50 Tourist Boat's, all lit up with coloured light's, it was such a beautiful sight!
After the firework's had finished here, we went back to the Car, and then to Bingen where we viewed the Finale!
This was by far the best way to view the firework's, and we also had time to have a look at the Castle.
The entrance fee was 5euro for special event's.
I would recommend to anybody who wants to see the firework's, to do this, it gives a view that you wouldn't find else where in the World!
2012 is on July 7th.
If you miss this one, then there are more you can view along the Rhine.
Other date's for along the Rhine firework's are...
Spay - Koblenz 11th Aug. 2012
Oberwesel 8th Sept. 2012
St. Goar 15th Sep. September 2012
I guess most people do this if they have time, in saying that, I THINK IT IS A MUST DO~
Ingrid [Trekki] made the suggestion to go by Boat to Boppard, as this is the most interesting part of the Rhine, and then return by Train.
We took this suggestion up, and caught the 11.40am KD line Boat To Boppard and came back by Train.
On arrival at the Dock at Bingen, we went to the Office and bought our ticket's, then sat and waited for the Boat. It wasn't long before it arrived and we boarded, heading to the top deck.
In JULY, there was plenty of seating.
As it was a nice day, we had wonderful views along the River, we saw so many Castle's, small Town's, Trains and just River Traffic, it really was an enjoyable time, and a good way to have a rest!
We knew what we were seeing as a good commentary was given along the way.
I think "KD Lines" ran a good and efficient Cruise, and I wouldn't hesitate to travel with them again!
Take something warm incase the a storm quickly brew's or a wind comes up!
Please check the website for prices and timetable's.....
And then join me sightseeing along the River Rhine
Also at St. Goar, is the ruin's of Rheinfels Castle, founded by the Count's of Katzenelnbogen in 1245.
As the only military complex on the left bank of the Rhine river, it withstood the troops of Louis XIV in 1692.
Then in 1794, Rheinfels fell without a fight to the French revolutionary army, they blew it up!
The remains served later as a stone quarry for the reconstruction of Ehrenbreitstein, before Prince Wilhelm of Prussia acquired the medieval part of the ruin in 1834.
Since 1925 Rheinfels Fortress is a property of the city of St. Goar.
The fortress is open, and there should be a good view of the Rhine Valley. Don't miss a walk through the gigantic vault cellar and the labyrinth of the subterranean mine galleries and casemates.
OPEN....Mid-March - beginning of November DAILY 9-6pm
Saturdays + Sundays 11-5pm
St. Goar was the Town located across the River from St. Goarhausen.
The town was named after Saint Goar who settled here in 550 and founded a Christian hostel for travellers and for the poor. He led a solitary life and although many legends have sprung up around the saint, he was most famous for his hospitality.
The collegiate church is still standing on the site where he lived and built a chapel.
Also in St. Goar is a Romanesque crypt from the 11th century, the Collegiate church has vaults from the 15th century as well as several Gothic wall paintings.
There is a small parish church with a Goar epitaph from the 14th century. The Coblence Gate served as the bell tower and has the oldest depiction of Saint Goar carved into the capstone of its cross vault.
The greatest tourist attraction is Rheinfels Fortress, the largest castle ruin on the Rhine.
If you come to explore after the Cruise, the Tourist Information centre will store your luggage their for FREE.
LOCATED AT...Heerstrasse 86
OPEN.............MAY - SEPT....Mon-Fri 9am-12.30pm and 1.30pm - 6pm
Sat 10am-12am Sat 10am-12am
April + October ......Mon-Fri 9am-12.30 pm and 1.30pm-5 pm
October-March Mon-Thu 9am-12.30 and 1.30pm-5 pm ...Fri 9am-2 pm Sat 9am-2 pm
For the Ferry timetable, check this website...http://www.st-goar.de/64-1-info--service.html
I love this! We have just seen Cat Castle, now I am looking at Mouse Castle!
Maus Castle is just a little further on from Kat Castle[Cat], lying above the village of Wellmich which is a part of St. Goarhausen.
Beginning in 1356 to enforce Trier's recently acquired Rhine River toll rights and to secure Trier's borders against the Counts of Katzenelnbogen (who had built Burg Katz and Burg Rheinfels), this Castle took 30 years to build.
Unlike its two neighbouring castles, Burg Maus was never destroyed, but was restored between 1900 and 1906.
The castle suffered further damage from shelling during World War II which has since been repaired.
Today Burg Maus has an aviary that is home to falcons, owls and eagles, and flight demonstrations are staged for visitors from late March to early October.
THE STORY BEHIND THE TWO CASTLE'S [KAT & MAUS]
Local folklore attributes the name to the Counts of Katzenelnbogen's mocking of the Electors of Trier during the 30 years of construction, who reportedly said that the castle was the "mouse" that would be eaten by the "cat" of Burg Katz.
Looking above the Village of Goarhausen, I could see another Castle, this one was the Burg Katz. [cat] It sits high upon a ledge, looking over the River Rhine.
It was first built around 1371 by Count Wilhelm II of Katzenelnbogen. The castle was bombarded in 1806 by Napoleon and rebuilt in the late 19th century, between 1896-98.
In 1435 the Counts of Katzenelnbogen were the first to plant Riesling in their vineyard.
It is now privately owned, and not open for visitors.
Do you believe there is a Castle Maus [Mouse] located close by?
Saint Goarshausen is the Village located the same side as Lorelei Rock.
It has a city sister across the other side of the River, connected by Ferry, it is known as St. Goar.
The old part of the town has two historical city towers and the remainder of the old defence wall.
The castle Katz (Cat) is located above the Village.
Within walking distance of the Village is the "Loreley open air theatre“, that offers events all year round.
The highlight of the year is the spectacular display of fireworks called "The Rhein in Flammen" with a week-long wine festival in the old part of Saint Goarshausen.
On a bend of the River Rhine, and announcement is made that we are at Lorelei Rock, a 433ft high slate cliff listed as "Upper Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage."
I wouldn't want to fall in the River here, as it is up to 82 ft deep! As this area is so deep and narrow, it is one of the most dangerous places in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Ships, crossing each other here and all along the section between Oberwesel and St. Goarshausen, are directed by light signals, called “Wahrschau”.
Traces of human settlement at Lorelei go back 600,000 year's!
THE STORY OF LORELEI.....
The name Loreley ( Lorelei ) appears in a romantic ballad written by the poet Clemens Brentano in 1801. In this ballad, Lorelei is a beauty from Bacharach who wants to take her own life because her true love is unfaithful.
A bishop decides to take her to a convent, but on the way there ,she stops at the cliff to look back at her true love riding away!
So upset is she, that she throw's herself into the turbulent waters below.
In the Rhine fairytale of 1810, Lorelei appears as the distraught woman Lurley, sitting on a rock combing her long golden hair and luring the barges into their destruction. We saw the Statue as we passed by in the Boat.