Bingen is quite a good place to choose as a base, when you intend to explore the river Rhine. Just 14 km downstream from Bingen you will see one of the highlights of the Rhine-valley : Burg Stahleck in Bacharach
This lovely castle dates back to the year 1135 but it was destroyed by french troops in 1689. In 1828 it was sold to crown-prince Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia, who wanted to restore it as a residence for his wife, Elisabeth of Bavaria. But soon he found out, it was impossible to completely restore it, so it was sold again and became a Youth-hostel already in 1926. Today it might be the most beautiful hostel in Germany and built at one of the very best places above the Rhine-valley.
Stahleck castle may be visited freely and without restrictions by everyone, only a small part of the building is reserved for the hostel-guests - all the pics of Burg Stahleck, that you may see on this page are taken from the part that is open for visitors !
Dont miss to go there, also for the excellent view on the valley. Step up from the village within 20 minutes or drive up and park close to the castle !
Niederwalddenkmal, at the opposite bank of the river Rhine will be one of the first sights that you will see , when walking along the river Rhine in Bingen. This monument was built high above the town of Ruedesheim in order to commemorate the end of the war of 1870/71 between Germany and France. The architects Johannes Schilling and Karl Weisbach needed 6 years for the construction of the giant monument, and even Kaiser Wilhelm I. came for the inauguration . The basement of the monument is 25 meters high and the goddess Germania 12,5 meters high, her sword is 7 meters... around the monument you will see all coats of arms of the german empire.
Below the monument you may walk down the hill again, walking through great garden-terraces and ejoy the view of the Rhine-valley !
When you are on vacation in Bingen you really should get across the river Rhine and see the gems of Ruedesheim, that are just a few minutes away from Bingen:
Broemserhof is the lovely old castle that houses Siegfried's Mechanisches Musikkabinett in Ruedesheim and it is one of the biggest collections of automatic music-instruments and musicboxes in Europe. Go inside, even when you will have not enough time to see the museum, all of the exhibits that are shown on my page are displayed in the entrance hall, BEFORE you get to the cashier, so this is what you may see, even when you have just a few minutes to spare.
Broemserhof is a lovely castle with a half-timbered facade, not far away from Drosselgasse.
I did not dare to put in some coins, but I may imagine that most of the machines are still working fine that way, and performances of these musicboxes are also part of every guided tour through the museum.
The entrance-fee is 5,50 Euros and 3 Euros for students and children.
Burg Ehrenfels is opposite of Bingen and just about 3km downstream from Ruedesheim and the Maeuseturm. The ruins of Ehrenfels castle are about 80 meters above the Rhine, and you may not go up there. The castle was first mentioned in a document in 1573 , but it is certainly much older than that. The river Rhine was a perfect place to build a castle and live on the toll, the merchants had to pay, when sailing on the Rhine.
This castle was built by the family von Bolanden, who owned several big castles along the river Rhine.
Ruedesheim is just opposite of Bingen and you simply have to take a ferry-boat in order to get to the most famous village in the Rhine-valley: Ruesedheim am Rhein !Drosselgasse is certainly the most famous street in Ruedesheim am Rhein, and of course it is at the same time a terrible tourist-trap with extremely high prices...
BUT it is also a nice place to walk through and take a look at the special and fancy wooden facades of the buildings there. In order to drink a glass of wine you may still go to another part of town, that is a lot less crowded by busloads of tourists singing "Warum ist es am Rhein so schön..." ( Tell me, why is it sooo beautiful along the river Rhine..??)
Ruedesheim is in the federal district of Hessen, that reaches for just a few km also to the Rhine-valley at Ruedesheim.
Many of the hotels in Ruedesheim are pretty close to the train-line and sleeping might be impossible most of the night, so it might make sense to sleep in Bingen and enjoy the wine in Ruedesheim ;-)) !
BUT make sure you catch the last ferry !!
The area around Bingen is known for high quality wines. You can go wine tasting at many of the wineries here, and we saw a tram going to the top of a cliff from the Rudesheimer Rottland vineyard. We'd have done that if we'd had time.
During breakfast we noticed a helecopter patrolling the Rudesheimer vines along the banks of the Rhine and several times spraying one particular section with something. Don't know what it was they were spraying, but that was a little disconcerting.
The Drususbrücke also has a long history dating back to Roman times. The first bridge, built in the years before Christ, was made of timber and burned down in 70AD. This one was replaced by a stone bridge, which was again destroyed, this time in 891 by the Normans. Again this was replaced, about a century later, and again it was destroyed, by the French, in 1689, before being built again in 1772. In 1945, you guessed it, it was destroyed again, only not by Allied bombers, by German commandos in the face of advancing allied troops.
The Mäuseturm (Mouse Tower) is Bingen's most famous sight, and the source of some grisly tales. This tower in the middle of the Rhein was used as a customs post, but according to legend it was where Archbishop Hatto of Mainz was eaten alive by thousands of mice after he burned to death all the local beggars during a famine. A number of towers have existed on the little island, probably from as far back as Roman times, but the most recent tower was built by the Prussians as a signal tower in the Rhein in 1855. The previous one had been destroyed by French troops in 1689.
With a name that made me think of my childhood watching Clopper Castle, this fortress was once the castle of the Archbishop Electors of Mainz. Unfortunately it was destroyed in 1689, and the ruins blown to smithereens in 1711, so all that is left today is a 19th century replica. The castle also contains a tower to climb, a museum and an expensive restaurant.
Okay, so I know what you are thinking, "I am far, far too hip to get on some boat for a tour of the Rhineland." Well, that's what I thought before I met Rössler-Linie. For about ten Euros (less if you have an international student i.d. card), you too can float down the Rhine and see some pretty neat things. Also, you won't feel as tourist-loser-queasy once you get on and realise that local people bring their kids on the boat for day trips. Also, the drunk nuns I saw were really, really funny, but I think that was a one-time thing.
Anyway, what you will see are a bunch of fairly fairy-talesque castles, some important historical landmarks, grapevines that go on endlessly, and some very the-hills-are-alive adorable villages. What makes this better is that it is all accompanied by a very knowledgeable tour guide who speaks in English, French, and German. A nice way to see the Rhine.
Do yourself a favour and take one of the many ferry trips down the Rhine. Wonderful views and a great way to spend the day. Your amazement at the beauty and style of the superb Gothic castles that over look the river will soon be substituted by the disbelief at the sheer volume of them. Seemingly around every bend there is another. More impressive and more stunning. It gives an idea of the wealth that this area held in its hay day.