Introduction - On the banks of the beautiful Rhine
Omissions are indicated [...]
[...] The stretch of the Rhine, in particular, between Mainz and Bonn, especially from Bingen to Koblenz, is incomparably beautiful. I don't know which is better - an idyllic journey by steamer or the longer, more pleasurable hike on foot. After only a hundred paces you are confronted with a new landscape, a different moss-covered castle ruin, another flower-filled village or town, another, better wine. Colourful sagas surround the castles and cloisters and transfer us into distant times of chivalry and cloister schools. From Ruedesheim to Koblenz alone there are something like twenty-five ruins high above the Rhine. In Ruedesheim itself there are the Niederburg and Broemserburg castles. A saga about the latter relates the history of the Knight Bromser and his lady, Gisela. On the opposite bank above Bingen you find Castle Klopp with its foundations dating from Roman times. Then comes the Binger hole that is related visually, geologically, nautically and meteorologically to the Maeuserturn (toll tower) and the Ehrenfels ruin opposite. These are followed by the beautiful Rheinstein castle and the Falkenburg. South of Niederheimbach there is Castle Sooneck, and close to the village the ruin of Honeck. North of Lorch, built on a jagged rock, you will find Castle Nolligen. A saga relates the story of a ride across the rocks into the Wisper Valley. Bacharach and Stahleck were the collecting place in the Middle Ages for the valuable Rhine wine. Near Kaub, in the middle of the river, stands the famous Pfalzgrafenstein with its 25 towers. North of the town Castle Gutenfels looks to the mighty ruins of Schoenburg Castle on the opposite bank. Further north the Cat and Mouse Castles played a deadly game. Near Goarshausen you will see the remains of the Rheinfels castle. Beautiful Bornhofen, the place of pilgrimage, looks up to the proud and pigheaded “enemy brothers”, Sterrenberg and Liebenstein. The huge Marksburg near Braubach is the best preserved of the Rhine castles. The Lahneck castle with its ivy clad walls was once the seat of the Templars. On the opposite bank the Stolzenfels castle looks out from a sea of green. The fortress of Ehrenbreitstein brings this stretch of the Rhine to a close.
Once you have stood at the Niederwald memorial and looked out with Germania, the guardian of the Rhine, over the vast and beautiful countryside; once you have looked from the “German Corner” of Koblenz to the red-brown fortress of Ehrenbreitstein on the opposite bank; once you have seen the Cologne Cathedral, one of the wonders of the world, with its towering buttresses and steeples, you will begin to understand the enthusiasm of the German people for the Rhine, and their longing to return from distant lands to its vine-clad banks. This is the land of sagas and poets.
We turn from the proud castles lining these banks to a quiet, almost forgotten cloister in a beautiful valley stretching up from the Rhine.