Travel Review: Burg Rheinfels, Our Favourite German Castle

28 Sep

317Burg Rheinfels, located in St. Goar, Germany was a wonderful, unexpected find. It was on our itinerary in a “We’re staying in St. Goar so I guess we should go here” kind of way. Because it was so convenient, I didn’t look anything up about it until we got to our hotel. Let’s just say, we started getting a bit more enthused about it when we read “bring your torches (flashlights)!” and when we got there, we didn’t want to leave!

From St. Goar’s town center, it’s probably about a 15-20 minute walk uphill to the castle. The trek isn’t particularly difficult–there is a well-marked, paved pathway up that isn’t too steep. It is still a hill, though, so if you have any issues walking you might want to consider a different method up. We liked walking up ourselves as it was nice to get away from crowds for a few minutes.

Once there, it was easy to find the ticket office where we paid just €4 apiece to wander about the ruins. I say “ruins’ loosely, as I’ve been to castle ruins before that were mere piles of rocks in comparison. Huge portions of this castle, which was built in 1245, are still very much intact. Apparently the castle stopped being in regular use in the late 1700s when it was handed over 325to the French revolutionary army and its outer walls were blown up.

Because the castle was in such great condition otherwise, we were impressed with the architecture–my husband was particularly intrigued by the various strategic defenses which showed that Rheinfels really was a functioning fortress. But more than all that, it’s the sheer size and labyrinthine nature of Rheinfels that impressed us the most–plus the fact that we were able to wander around by ourselves, at our own pace, through nearly the entire castle, which was hugely refreshing!

Seriously, they weren’t kidding when they said to bring a torch. Among the big caverns and little rooms there are hidden passageways, tunnels, and mine shafts that require some327 serious navigating. Some of these places aren’t for the faint-hearted or claustrophobic. The mineshafts in particular were dark, short, and narrow, but it was SO much fun walking through them!

This was by far our favourite castle that we visited in Germany, largely because of the freedom we were given to roam. That’s something we didn’t experience in any other castle; in most places, we had to go on a tour with a tour guide, and in others there were a few set rooms we were able to see. On a weekday afternoon in September, there was barely anyone there, making the experience that much more exciting. If you’re planning on staying on the Rhine, I’d make this castle your #1 stop–great for kids and adults alike!

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