Top historic sites in the Middle Rhine Valley

Sooneck Castle

Sooneck Castle was first mentioned around 1271. Like neighbouring Burg Reichenstein (Rhein), the castle was managed by the lords of Hohenfels as bailiffs for Kornelimünster Abbey near Aachen. What is certain is that the castle was besieged in 1282 by King Rudolph I. His troops overran and destroyed the castle and the king imposed a ban on rebuilding it, which he explicitly restated in 1290. When the castle was rebuilt it ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Niederheimbach, Germany

Sterrenberg Castle

By 1034, Sterrenberg was being mentioned as an imperial castle, but the source is not certain. In 1190, Sterrenberg Castle is listed in the book of Werner von Bolanden as a fief, together with the custom point in Bornhofen. The noble family of Bolanden stayed as lords of Sterrenberg Castle until the second half of the 13th century. From this early period, the bergfried and the first, inner shield wall have survived.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kamp-Bornhofen, Germany

Mouse Tower

The Mouse Tower (Mäuseturm) is a stone tower on a small island in the Rhine. The Romans were the first to build a structure on this site. It later became part of Franconia, and it fell and had to be rebuilt many times. Hatto II, the Archbishop of Mainz, restored the tower in 968. The story of how it came to be called the 'Mouse Tower' comes from a folk tale (Hatto was being eaten alive by mice in a tower). ...
Founded: 968 AD / 1855 | Location: Bingen am Rhein, Germany

Ehrenfels Castle Ruins

Ehrenfels Castle was (re-)built about 1212 at the behest of the Archbishop of Mainz as a defensive work against the constant attacks by Elector Palatine Henry V, who, as Imperial vicar of Franconia, strived to cut down the archbishop"s reach. Mainz staffed the castle with Burgmannen and erected a customs post controlling the shipping on the Rhine, supplemented by the Mouse Tower below at the river. Heavily damaged in ...
Founded: 1212 | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

Liebenstein Castle

Liebenstein Castle was probably built in the 13th century as well as near Sterrenberg castle. Both were owned by feodal lords of Bolanden (later Sponheim-Dannenfels). The gate tower was added 1363 and tower in 1380 and the castle was enlarged in the 15th century. However, already in 1529 it was abandoned and left to decay. The major restoration took place in 1977 and today Liebenstein is a hotel and restaurant.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kamp-Bornhofen, Germany

Maus Castle

Maus Castle construction was begun in 1356 by Archbishop-Elector of Trier Bohemond II and was continued for the next 30 years by successive Electors of Trier. The construction of Burg Maus was 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). In the latter half of the 14th century Burg Maus ...
Founded: 1356 | Location: Wellmich, Germany

Imperial Palace Ruins

The Imperial Palace in Ingelheim was erected in the second half of the 8th century. Charlemagne chose Ingelheim in 787 as the location for his winter quarters, arriving there before Christmas and remaining there without interruption until the middle of 788. However the palace was not completed before completed before 814. It served Emperors and Kings as a residence and place for governance until the 11th century. From the ...
Founded: c. 787 AD | Location: Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Goseck Circle

The Goseck circle is a Neolithic circle structure. It may be the oldest and best known of the Circular Enclosures associated with the Central European Neolithic. It also may be one of the oldest Solar observatories in the world. It consists of a set of concentric ditches 75 metres across and two palisade rings containing gates in places aligned with sunrise and sunset on the solstice days.

Its construction is dated to c. 4900 BC, and it seems to have remained in use until 4600 BC. This corresponds to the transitional phase between the Neolithic Linear Pottery and Stroke-ornamented ware cultures. It is one of a larger group of so-called Circular Enclosures in the Elbe and Danube region, most of which show similar alignments.

Excavators also found the remains of what may have been ritual fires, animal and human bones, and a headless skeleton near the southeastern gate, that could be interpreted as traces of human sacrifice or specific burial ritual. There is no sign of fire or of other destruction, so why the site was abandoned is unknown. Later villagers built a defensive moat following the ditches of the old enclosure.

The Goseck ring is one of the best preserved and extensively investigated of the many similar structures built at around the same time. Traces of the original configuration reveal that the Goseck ring consisted of four concentric circles, a mound, a ditch, and two wooden palisades. The palisades had three sets of gates facing southeast, southwest, and north. At the winter solstice, observers at the center would have seen the sun rise and set through the southeast and southwest gates.

Archaeologists generally agree that Goseck circle was used for observation of the course of the Sun in the course of the solar year. Together with calendar calculations, it allowed coordinating an easily judged lunar calendar with the more demanding measurements of a solar calendar.