Upper Middle Rhine Valley – the UNESCO World Heritage at its best
Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf German verfügbar.
What does “World Heritage” mean?
Sites classified as UNESCO World Heritage include cultural and natural landmarks that are particularly worth protecting as they are deemed unique, authentic and possess extraordinary integrity. UNESCO is protecting more than 1,000 landmarks worldwide, with most of them being classified as World Cultural Heritage and one fifth being classified as World Natural Heritage.
The Upper Middle Rhine Valley – a UNESCO World Heritage
The Upper Middle Rhine Valley was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in 2002. Since then, the nearly 67-kilometer stretch of the Rhine valley between Rüdesheim and Koblenz has been protected by UNESCO. The distinction given to the region is due to its extraordinary and amazing natural and cultural landscape, which is mainly characterized by steep slopes, striking rock formations on the banks of the Rhine and sun-kissed vineyards, but also by its many historic castles, fortresses and landmarks along the river. However, the distinctiveness of this part of the Rhine has been recognized many years ago. Already during the past centuries, tourists from Germany and from abroad loved to visit the area located between Rhine kilometers 526 and 593. Therefore, it has repeatedly been praised in classical literature and music. Among the most popular works are Richard Wagner’s “Rheingold” opera as well as Brentano’s and Heine’s numerous poems on Lorelei, the famous maiden sitting atop the Lorelei rock, who is said to have caught the eye of ship captains, causing the vessels to crash and sink. The legend also served as inspiration for Friedrich Silcher’s “Song of the Lorelei.” The Upper Middle Rhine Valley continues to amaze its visitors with a number of beautiful towns and unique landmarks, which we’d like to present to you today.
The most beautiful sights in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley
The Lorelei rock is one of the most famous and popular viewpoints in this region and a true tourist magnet. It partly owes its popularity to an open-air stage, where famous national and international artists frequently perform amid a breathtaking scenery. This is where the Rhine is narrowest and deepest at about 26 meters – which might explain why the spot used to be known as a particularly dangerous place for ships to navigate around. Of course, all these factors contributed to the development of the Lorelei legend. From the observation deck atop the Lorelei rock, visitors have the most stunning view of the Rhine valley including Rheinstein Castle, Katz Castle and the cities of St. Goar and St. Goarshausen.
Albeit somewhat less popular – but no less impressive – is the view from the Germania, also known as the “Niederwalddenkmal” monument overlooking Rüdesheim city. From here, you’ll have a panoramic view of the Rhine, the vineyards and the city of Bingen on the other side of the river. The short but somewhat steep walk uphill from Rüdesheim to the monument leads through the picturesque vineyards. However, those who prefer to enjoy the vineyards from an elevated position can simply take the cableway.
From the many castles and fortresses, most of them located in rather prominent positions, tourists have a broad view of the valley as well. They are also great spots for watching the ships and ferryboats navigating on the Rhine. Protected by the thick walls of the castles high above the Rhine, visitors with a vivid imagination will be able to follow in the footsteps of the powerful lords that used to walk these halls in medieval times.
Rheinstein Castle is one of the region’s oldest and most beautiful castles. Built between the 13th and 14th century, the castle had fallen into a state of complete dilapidation by the 17th century, but was beautifully restored 200 years later. Today it remains in possession of the Hecher family, who kept it open for visitors as a cultural site and restaurant venue. Some of the artworks tourists can explore on a visit to Rheinstein Castle date back to the early 14th century. On top of that, visitors can admire original ancient furniture as well as armors, military equipment and some authentic reproductions of pieces from the past centuries. Of course, the castle also offers a stunning view of the valley from its gardens and its ample terrace. At the end of the tour, visitors can treat themselves to regional cuisine in the castle’s own restaurant.
While it would be possible to live in parts of Rheinstein Castle following the reconstruction and the ongoing restoration process, Ehrenfels Castle is in a rather poor condition. Built as early as in the 10th century, the castle was expanded in the following centuries and severely damaged during different wars of succession in the 17th century. Apart from the shield wall, which is more than 4 meters thick, only the two towers, the palace and the ring wall have been preserved until today. Visitors can climb up the two towers using a retrofitted stairway – from the top, you’ll have a stunning view of the Rhine and the city of Bingen on the other side of the river.
A UNESCO World Heritage graced with a favorable climate
Visitors of the Middle Rhine region can count themselves lucky: the sun shines particularly often here, causing the flora and the ample vineyards covering the slopes to flourish. On top of that, the water of the Rhine serves as a huge and reliable heat reservoir, contributing to the pleasantly mild temperatures throughout the whole year. Therefore, the grapes cultivated in this region are extraordinarily sweet and delicious, thus adding a unique flavor to the Riesling wine. All these factors contribute to a rich flora with lush green meadows, forests and river banks throughout the whole Upper Middle Rhine region.
A true paradise for outdoor adventurers
The favorable climate makes the region a true paradise for hikers, cyclists, skaters and other outdoor adventurers. Whether you’re planning to take a relaxed walk alongside the river or want to go on a more demanding hike uphill with a rather steep ascent – the region poses suitable challenges for any hiker or cyclist. One of the most well-known hiking routes, which is popular among people of all age groups, is the Rheinsteig route, leading from Wiesbaden until Bonn and through the most beautiful parts of the Middle Rhine Valley on several different stages. Tourists exploring the World Heritage by bike will be equally amazed by the region. The “Rhein Radweg” cyclist route is perfect for discovering the beautiful landscape on the back of a bike.
A diversified museum scene to escape the bad weather
A visit to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley is never boring – not even on the rare days when the sun is not shining. The cities included in the World Heritage offer a broad and unique array of interactive museum experiences. Topics range from wine cultivation (Rheingau Wine Museum in Rüdesheim), to the typical culture of the Middle Rhine region (Middle Rhine Museum in Koblenz), toys (German Doll and Teddy Bear Museum in St. Goar) and finally to modern arts (Arts in the Oberwesel Tower).
Only the finest of events
Naturally, a region that attracts huge numbers of tourists each year frequently hosts exciting events as well. The greatest highlights of the event calendar at the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley are the Middle Rhine Valley Music Festival, (a series of concerts from May through September featuring regional artists and international celebrities) the Rhein Vocal festival ( a vocal music festival taking place from June until August in different cities between Bingen and Remagen) as well as the legendary Rhine in Flames fireworks taking place five times throughout the summer. For the Rhine in Flames festival, different cities in the Middle Rhine Valley are being illuminated accompanied by sparkling fireworks – an unforgettable experience, especially if you’re participating in one of the special boat trips across the Rhine.
Are you curious about exploring the Upper Middle Rhine Valley yourself? Then let’s go! At hoteltraube Rüdesheim in Rüdesheim’s charming Old Town, you’ll be staying right at the gates of the UNESCO World Heritage. Check out our awesome special offers for a three or five-day trip to the Rheingau region!
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Dieser Beitrag ist auch auf German verfügbar.