Top historic sites in the Middle Rhine Valley

Mainz Cathedral

Archbishop Willigis laid the foundation stone for the Mainz cathedral in 975, modelling it on old St. Peter’s in Rome. Seven coronations of kings took place in Mainz Cathedral in the course of the centuries. The new building did not, however, survive the day of its consecration in August 1009 – a fire destroyed the edifice and it was only possible to use the cathedral again in 1036. From his time dates the oldest sur ...
Founded: 975 AD | Location: Mainz, Germany

Deutsches Eck

Deutsches Eck ('German Corner') is the name of a headland in Koblenz where the river Mosel joins the Rhine. In 1897, nine years after the death of the German Emperor William I, the former emperor was honoured with a giant equestrian statue. In 1945, the statue was badly damaged by an American artillery shell. Soon afterwards it was completely taken down. The French military government planned to replace the old memorial ...
Founded: 1897 | Location: Koblenz, Germany

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress

Ehrenbreitstein Fortress was built as the backbone of the regional fortification system, Festung Koblenz, by Prussia between 1817 and 1832 and guarded the middle Rhine region, an area that had been invaded by French troops repeatedly before. The fortress was never attacked. Early fortifications at the site can be dated back to about 1000 BC. At about AD 1000 Ehrenbert erected a castle. The Archbishops of Trier expanded i ...
Founded: 1817-1832 | Location: Koblenz, Germany

Marksburg Castle

Marksburg as the only undamaged hilltop castle in the Middle Rhine Valley. In the early 12th century records mention the Noble Freemen of Brubach (who probably built the lower part of the keep around 1117), even though the castle itself is first referred to in 1231. The Lords of Eppstein built the Romanesque castle complex with its triangular layout, characteristic of the Staufer era. The Eppsteins were amongst the most p ...
Founded: c. 1117 | Location: Braubach, Germany

Werner Chapel Ruins

Werner Chapel was built in 1426 and it was dedicated to St. Werner of Oberwesel, a 16-year-old boy whose unexplained death was blamed on Jews, leading to revenge killings of Jews across Europe in 1287. Since the Reformation the chapel was a famous pilgrimage destination. It was left to decay in the 17th century and partially demolished in 1759 and 1787. Today the impressive ruins are the landmark of Bacharach town.
Founded: 1426 | Location: Bacharach, Germany

Basilica of St. Castor

The Basilica of St. Castor is the oldest church in Koblenz A fountain called Kastorbrunnen ('Castor well') was built in front of the basilica during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. Since 2002, the Basilica of St. Castor has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage cultural landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. The first church of St. Castor was built between 817 and 836 by Hetto, the Archbishop ...
Founded: 1208 | Location: Koblenz, Germany

Eberbach Abbey

Kloster Eberbach was founded in 1136 by Bernard of Clairvaux as the first Cistercian monastery on the east bank of the Rhine, on the site of a previous monastic foundation of Adalbert of Mainz, which had been occupied at first by Augustinian canons and then by Benedictine monks, which had however failed to establish itself. Eberbach soon became one of the largest and most active monasteries of Germany. At its height in t ...
Founded: 1136 | Location: Eltville am Rhein, Germany

Niederwalddenkmal

Niederwalddenkmal monument was constructed to commemorate the foundation of the German Empire after the end of Franco-Prussian War. The first stone was laid on September 16, 1871, by Wilhelm I. The sculptor was Johannes Schilling, and the architect was Karl Weisbach. The total cost of the work is estimated at one million gold marks. It was inaugurated on September 28, 1883. The 38 metres tall monument represents the union ...
Founded: 1871 | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

Rheinfels Castle Ruins

Rheinfels Castle construction was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen. After expansions, it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley between Koblenz and Mainz. It was slighted by French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. The main entrance to the castle complex is a tall square clock or gate tower (~1300 AD) opposite the hotel. A connecting path joins the clock tower to the remains of the livin ...
Founded: 1245 | Location: Sankt Goar, Germany

Boppard Roman Fort

Boppard’s most famous sight is a castrum, a Roman Fort. The military camp of Bodobrica was established here in 360 AD. It is thought to be the best preserved example north of the Alps today. It once had 28 towers, and was a commercial centre as well as a fort. It was 308 × 154 metres and formed a rectangle of 4,7 hectare. The walls were 3 metres thick to the land side and 2,5 metres thick to the Rhine side. W ...
Founded: 360 AD | Location: Boppard, Germany

Electoral Palace

The Electoral Palace was the residence of the last Archbishop and Elector of Trier, Clemens Wenceslaus of Saxony, who commissioned the building in the late 18th century. It was erected between 1777–1793. In the mid-19th century, the Prussian Crown Prince (later Emperor Wilhelm I) had his official residence there during his years as military governor of the Rhine Province and the Province of Westphalia. It now houses ...
Founded: 1777-1793 | Location: Koblenz, Germany

Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein castle was constructed around 1316-1317. It was important for its strategic location. By 1344, the castle was in decline. By the time of the Palatine War of Succession, the castle was very dilapidated. During the romantic period in the 19th century, Prince Frederick of Prussia (1794–1863) bought the castle and it was rebuilt. In 1975 the opera singer Hermann Hecher bought the castle. It"s due to him ...
Founded: 1316 | Location: Trechtingshausen, Germany

Stahleck Castle

The exact building year of Stahleck castle is not known, but it has been proved that the castle was already occupied since the year 1095. It's first mentioned in documents in the year 1135 under Goswin von Hochstadt. Until 1148 almost 10 years of fight followed for the rights of the Stahleck. In the year 1156, after the death of Hermann of Stahleck, his stepbrother Konrad von Hohenstaufen became count palatine of Bachara ...
Founded: c. 1135 | Location: Bacharach, Germany

Schönburg Castle

Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. From the 12th century, the Dukes of Schönburg ruled over the town of Oberwesel and had also the right to levy customs on the Rhine river. The most famous was Friedrich von Schönburg - a much-feared man known as “Marshall Schomberg” - who in the 17th century served as a colonel and as a general under the King of Franc ...
Founded: 1100-1149 | Location: Oberwesel, Germany

Brömserburg Castle

Once situated directly on the banks of the Rhine, Brömserburg Castle was owned by the Archbishops of Mainz from the beginning of the 10th to the beginning of the 19th century. During the 12th century they converted the old fortress into a castle residence. With its vaulted ceilings and walls of more than two metres thick, it successfully provided resistance against any attack. One exception was the destruction of the cas ...
Founded: c. 1000 AD | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a toll castle known also as 'the Pfalz'. This former stronghold is famous for its picturesque and unique setting. The keep of this island castle, a pentagonal tower with its point upstream, was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. In 1477 Pfalzgrafenstein was passed as deposit to the Count of Katz ...
Founded: 1326 | Location: Kaub, Germany

Klopp Castle

Klopp Castle is the landmark of Bingen. It stands on a hill above the town with a wide-ranging view, which may have been the site of a Roman fortification built by Drusus at Bingium around 10 CE. The hill is one of three locations where local legend says that Emperor Henry IV was imprisoned by his son in 1105 or 1106, this being the first surviving mention of a castle there. The last medieval castle on the site was built ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bingen am Rhein, Germany

Lahneck Castle

Lahneck Castle was built in 1226 by the Archbishop of Mainz Siegfried III of Eppstein to protect his territory at the mouth of the Lahn, where the town of Oberlahnstein and a silver mine had come into the possession of the Archbishopric in 1220. The castle chapel, dedicated to Saint Ulrich of Augsburg, was built in 1245, in the same year the first Burggraf took up residence in the castle. In 1298, King Adolf of Nassau wa ...
Founded: 1226 | Location: Lahnstein, Germany

Lorch Church

The Gothic parish church in Lorch was first built in the 13th century and it is dedicated to St. Martin. The tower dates from 1576. The wooden altar (1483) is worth of seeing. There is also an early Gothic cruficix from the 13th century and font from 1464.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lorch, Germany

Katz Castle

Count Wilhelm II of Katzenelnbogen built the Katz Castle in the second half of the 14th century. Katz Castle was used as bastion and military base to protect the Rheinfels Castle. Together they formed a fortified bulwark with a barrier for levying of the Rhine toll. The extended view up to the bend of the river at the Loreley was also of great importance to secure salmon fishing. Due to the intentionally chosen location o ...
Founded: c. 1371 | Location: Sankt Goarshausen, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Erfurt Synagogue

The Erfurt Synagogue was built c. 1094. It is thought to be the oldest synagogue building still standing in Europe. Thanks to the extensive preservation of the original structure, it has a special place in the history of art and architecture and is among the most impressive and highly rated architectural monuments in Erfurt and Thuringia. The synagogue was constructed during the Middle Ages on the via regia, one of the major European trade routes, at the heart of the historical old quarter very close to the Merchants Bridge and the town hall. Many parts of the structure still remain today, including all four thick outer walls, the Roman­esque gemel window, the Gothic rose window and the entrance to the synagogue room.

After extensive restoration, the building was reopened in 2009. On display in the exhibition rooms is an collection of medieval treasures discovered during archaeological excavations. This includes 3,140 silver coins, 14 silver ingots, approx. 6,000 works of goldsmithery from the 13th and 14th centuries and an intricately worked wedding ring of the period, of which only two others are known to exist anywhere in the world. A mikveh (Jewish bath) has been excavated close by (13th/14th century). The Old Synagogue, the Small Synagogue and two Jewish cemeteries together form a network of historical buildings and sites which vividly portray the role of Jewish life in the history of Erfurt.