Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

Rhine Valley, Germany, Travel Guide: Loreley

Burg Katz in Rhine Valley, Germany


ROMANTIC RHINE DAY 2: BURG RHEINFELS, LORELEY

/
/
/

After a German breakfast of müsli, cold cuts and fruit at the hotel (or on a river cruise), continue south to St. Goar, which is especially enjoyable for kids. The Deutsches Puppen- und Bärenmuseum has an adorable collection of dolls and teddy bears, many of them rare and precious. If that doesn't excite the little ones enough, head uphill to Burg Rheinfels, a huge, partly ruined fortress lording over the town. Built in 1245, its size and labyrinthine layout are astonishing, as is the network of underground defensive tunnels. Most of these can be explored without a guide — but never without a flashlight. The restaurant at the castle's Schlosshotel is a good place for lunch, especially if you can snag a table on the terrace.

Burg Maus
Burg Maus

From here you can spot two more castles across the river above St. Goar's twin town, St. Goarshausen. You'll view Burg Maus (Mouse Castle), whose main attraction is falconry, and Burg Katz (Cat Castle), which is closed to the public. The castles, officially called Thurnberg and Neu-Katzenelnbogen, respectively, take their animal nicknames from a rivalry that brewed during the building of Thurnberg. According to local lore, the Counts of Katzenelnbogen mocked the Electors of Trier during the 30 years of Thurnberg’s construction by saying that the castle was the "mouse" that would be eaten by the "cat" of Katzenelnbogen.

The castles here are impressive, but St. Goarshausen's true claim to fame is Loreley rock, a 300-foot-high eroded slate cliff that forms the narrowest point in the Rhine River. Virtually every poet of the Romantic Age composed works based on the tale of the mythical maiden named Loreley. It was this lovely lady who, perched atop the rock, caused many a love-struck sailor to lose his head and steer to his death in the treacherous currents.

High atop the rock is the Besucherzentrum Loreley (Loreley Visitors' Center). Eengaging multimedia displays explore how the Loreley legend has shaped the region's history and inspired art and literature, and whose sweeping views from the landscaped park will likely have you burning up the pixels in your camera.

Burg Rheinfels
Burg Rheinfels

Continue south from St. Goar to Oberwesel (checking into the Burghotel Auf Schönburg, if possible), and stretch your legs with a stroll around the medieval castle and two miles of town wall, anchored by sixteen fortified gates. The two main churches, St. Martin and Liebfrauenkirche, both boast beautiful high gothic altars.

Dinner at the hotel restaurant is a gourmet affair with a fantastic wine list and an eclectic menu ranging from classic roast venison to the more exotic, such as coconut-flecked scallops.

Outside of the hotel, Oberwesel’s best dinner options are at Historische Weinwirtschaft winery or the hilltop Grunderodehaus.


Continue to Day 3

MORE ROMANTIC RHINE INFORMATION

(Updated: 07/31/13 RD)


Located in world-renowned wine regions from Napa to Bordeaux to South Africa, these historic roads offer both great wine and beautiful scenery.
Beyond the crowds on the Adriatic Sea, the clamor of Rome and the charmed Toscana lies an Italy yet undiscovered by many American travelers.