As an important traffic route, the Upper Middle Rhine Valley World Heritage documents the 2000 year old cultural and economic connection between the southern European regions of the Mediterranean and northern Europe. The approximately 65 km long section of the cultural landscape between Bingen, Rüdesheim and Koblenz is characterized by wine-growing terraces, historic towns, churches, palaces and castles.
Upper Middle Rhine Valley: facts
|Official title:||Upper Middle Rhine Valley|
|Cultural monument:||Upper Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen, Rüdesheim and Koblenz with historical cityscapes and high-ranking architectural monuments; including numerous castles and palaces as well as churches and monasteries|
|Location:||Between Bingen and Koblenz|
|Meaning:||Cultural landscape with numerous extraordinary monuments|
Upper Middle Rhine Valley: History
|around 1000||Construction of the Brömserburg Castle in Rüdesheim|
|1135||Stahleck Castle is mentioned for the first time in a document|
|13th century||Construction of the Binger Mouse Tower|
|1237||First documentary mention of Gutenfels Castle|
|1245||Foundation of Rheinfels Castle|
|1282||Destruction of Reichenstein Castle by Rudolf von Habsburg|
|1376-98||Establishment of the Königsstuhl in Rhens|
|1618-48||Thirty Years’ War|
|1688-97||War of the Palatinate Succession|
|1813/14||Marshal Blücher crosses the Rhine at Kaub|
|1823-42||Reconstruction of the Stolzenfels castle ruins|
|1827||Start of steam shipping between Cologne and Mainz|
|1834||Reconstruction of Reichenstein Castle|
|1842-61||Reconstruction of Sooneck Castle (11th century)|
|1856-58||Binger mouse tower as a signal station|
|1875-79||Reconstruction of Klopp Castle (destroyed in 1713)|
|1885||Reconstruction of Schönburg (destroyed in 1689)|
|1896-98||Reconstruction of Katz Castle (destroyed in 1806)|
|1900-06||Reconstruction of Maus Castle|
|1950-51||Reconstruction of the electoral palace in Koblenz (18th century; destroyed in 1944)|
|1968-78||Construction of Sterrenberg Castle (11th century)|
“Why is it so beautiful on the Rhine?”
The Rhine, the longest German river and at the same time the busiest waterway in Europe, winds in numerous bends and curves through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, bounded in the south by the cities of Bingen and Rüdesheim, in the north by Koblenz.
“This is an area like a poet’s dream, and the most exuberant imagination can not think of anything more beautiful.” Heinrich von Kleist (* 1777, † 1811) was not the only one who succumbed to the valley’s charm: many romantic artists – whether literati, painters or musicians – who, in view of the beginning industrialization, turned to nature and the past, felt magically attracted by this beautiful and at the same time rough and unspoilt cultural landscape and found their inspiration here. Even if some of the poet’s dream described by Kleist may have been lost due to the opening up of traffic, the scenic and cultural charms of the valley can hardly be avoided today. Who does not know them, the fantastically beautiful pictures of the Middle Rhine: castles and palaces on rocky outcrops.
According to ehistorylib, the most important German river flows through the Rhenish Slate Mountains over a length of 65 kilometers. To the right and left of its course, steep, rocky ridges reach up almost to the banks of the Rhine – the result of unusual geological processes that have led to the formation of the deeply cut valley of the river. 60 million years ago the Rhenish Slate Mountains slowly began to rise in several phases, so that the Rhine could dig itself deeper and deeper at the same time without changing its course.
In the rugged Rhine Valley, favored by the influx of mild air from the south, people have been using the excellent, almost Mediterranean climatic conditions since the early Middle Ages and opening up ever larger areas for viticulture. Today the area is particularly known for its excellent Rieslings, which benefit not only from the favorable climatic conditions, but also from the mineral-rich slate soils. During the day, the rocks warm up, store the sun’s heat and release it into the environment for hours at night. By redesigning the steep southern slopes in particular into an open, small-scale wine-growing landscape, a large number of remarkable new biological habitats were created. Animals and plants that need light and warmth, whose original home is the Mediterranean and southeastern Europe, were able to survive in the Rhine Valley. With a little luck and patience, you can admire, for example, an emerald lizard sunbathing on a dry stone wall or the glowing wings of the red-winged wasteland insect.
In the Middle Ages, the Rhine was the most important trade route between the North Sea and the Alps. Therefore, the large number of castles and the number of villages and towns in the valley are not surprising. At all times, secular and ecclesiastical strategists have fought over the best loopholes and customs posts along the Rhine traffic artery. Robber barons also cashed heavily. There is no other river in the world where the medieval castles, palaces and fortresses are as close to one another as they are on the Rhine. The more famous castles include Stolzenfels Castle, Lahneck Castle, Marksburg, the “enemy brothers” Sterrenberg and Liebenstein, Pfalzgrafenstein Castle and the Binger Mouse Tower. The density of castles, which is unusual with around 40 facilities, can be explained by the strategically good location of the Middle Rhine Valley. Transporting goods by ship on the Rhine was a costly affair in the Middle Ages. Between Bingen and Koblenz alone there were over a dozen places where lavish customs duties were sometimes levied – a lucrative business, which prompted the Archbishoprics of Cologne, Mainz and Trier to acquire or build property there, as did the Count Palatine and the Hessian Landgraves.