We recently spent two days travelling the Middle Rhine, driving North to South on the left bank of the river Rhine, stopping in lovely little towns with many half-timbered houses and visiting some of the many castles and castle ruins that seam the Rhine. The Middle Rhine region is such a beautiful region in Germany to visit, yet many Germans and let alone foreigners are not aware of its beauty.
“Between Bingen and Bonn, Germany, the Rhine River flows as the Middle Rhine (German: Mittelrhein) through the Rhine Gorge, a formation created by erosion, which happened at about the same rate as an uplift in the region, leaving the river at about its original level, and the surrounding lands raised. […]
For two millennia, it [the Middle Rhine Valley] has been one of the most important routes for cultural exchange between the Mediterranean region and northern Europe. Situated in the heart of Europe, it was sometimes a border and sometimes a bridge between different cultures. The history of the valley reflects the history of Western Europe. With its many outstanding monuments, its hills full of vines, its settlements crowded on the narrow river banks, and the rows of castles lined up on the hill tops, it is considered the epitome of the Rhine romanticism. It inspired Heinrich Heine to write his famous poem “Lorelei” and Richard Wagner to write his opera Götterdämmerung.” Source
The Middle Rhine is surrounded by vineyards and little villages full of half-timbered houses. It’s as though time had come to a halt. On the following two pictures, you can see the Marksburg, the only high castle in the Middle Rhine Valley which has never been destroyed.
We spent the night in a town called Bacharach. Its most famous sight and landmark of the Rhine Romanticism is probably the ruin of the Wernerkapelle (Werner chapel). Even William Turner was inspired by it!
Here’s a historic scene of Bacharach to compare to a photograph taken by me:
The old town of Bacharach:
We had some very delicious Flammkuchen, which literally translated to “flame cake”. It’s a pizza-like dish, except the dough is rolled-out very thinly, and instead of tomato sauce and cheese you have crème fraîche, onions and lardons. It’s very typical for the region.
In the evening, we went to a beer and wine garden overlooking the Rhine. You would sit outside in an old merry-go-round, except the rides very replaced by tables and benches. It was really lovely, the wine was delicious and we were the very last ones to leave before they closed up.
On the next day, our last stop before heading back home was the town of Bingen. Back in the 12th century, Bingen was home to St Hildegard of Bingen, a Benedictine abbess who was not only a Christian visionary, but who was also the very first person in Germany to write down a book on natural medicine and the effect of herbs and other plants on certain health conditions. There is a museum dedicated to her, which also features a nice apothecary garden.
Right outside the museum you find bust of Victor Hugo, who visited Bingen in 1840.
Of course, this is not even everything we got to see – and there is still much more to see – but I did not take proper pictures of everything. This was not our first visit to the region, and most certainly not our last (we live less than 300 kilometres away). If anybody of you should come near the Middle Rhine, make sure to spend a day or two exploring the region, it is abolsutely worth it. We were there in the Middle of July (on a weekday though), and although the Middle Rhine Valley is still a touristy region, it’s not overrun by tourists, and prices (for hotels, restaurants, entrance fees) are rather moderate.
~ Lisa v. D.