Schloss Koblenz | © Friedrich Gier

Monuments to Bygone Ages & Cultural Treasures

Evocative reminders of an eventful past

From Romans and emperors to electoral princes – the past is always close at hand.

The Rhine Valley is undoubtedly one of the most important cultural regions in Europe.  A rich heritage of art and culture is the hallmark of the Romantic Rhine.

Political history was made here and it’s no coincidence that many artistic movements have left their mark here. The styles span the ages from mystical Romanesque, intricate Gothic and jubilant Baroque to the romantic spirit of the 19th century. And there are even some impressive legacies of the Modern movement here, too.

Right up until the recent past, the Rhine has always been a pawn, a frontier and a transit bottleneck for soldiers, merchants, kings and church dignitaries alike. The Middle Ages were one of the most prosperous periods in the Rhine valley. Together with over 60 fortresses and castles, the towns of Bacharach and Oberwesel with their impressive perimeter walls, towers and churches, bear witness to an age when princes once elected their kings here and crusaders set off for the Holy Land. For merchants and tradesmen, the Rhine was an equally important, albeit often expensive route, due to the payment demanded by the numerous toll castles and tollgates in return for passage. Most of the proud castles and fortifications in the Rhine valley were only destroyed in the 17th century at the hands of the troops of the French ‘Sun King’. Shot to ruins and pillaged, they became a major attraction for the 19th century Rhine Romanticists with their passion for wild, untamed nature.

For many travellers the wild river, jagged rocks and ruined castles resembling eagles’ lairs perfectly embodied the ideal of a primitive, romantic landscape.