Robin's Adventures

River Cruise: Rhine and Moselle Rivers
Adventures with Medieval Castles and Charming Old Towns


Bernkastle-Kues consists of two towns, one on each side of the Moselle River, that merged in 1905 to become a single town. The town sprawls across the foothills which are covered with vineyards.

Above the town sits the ruins of Landshut Castle. The castle was used as a summer residence of the Archbishops of Trier until it was destroyed by fire in 1692.

Along the shore we saw a mated pair of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) that were tending to their nest. These swans usually lay between four and ten eggs and then about 36 days later the eggs will hatch.

Old Town Bernkastel

Medieval Market Square was definitely a highlight of old town Bernkastel. The half-timbered 17th century buildings were impressive, and we especially liked the narrow little Spitzhauschen, or "Pointed House." The Pointed House was built in 1416 and today it is a wine bar owned by a family that has vineyards in the area.

We also saw St. Michael's Church with its 184 foot tall bell tower which was formerly a defense tower in the old city walls. In addition, bears are the official animal of Bernkastel and we saw them on the city coat of arms and also in a fountain in the center of a square.

Toast and Taste

Since we were traveling through some premier wine country, it seemed only appropriate that we visit a winery and taste some wines. We visited the Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Winery to sample some Rieslings.

Afterwards, we went to taste something that was much better. Eli, it seems, has a weakness for hazelnut ice cream and he managed to taste it in many of the small towns we visited across Germany. Notice the very contented look on his face in the photo!

Steve also discovered something good. Ruth introduced him to iced coffee, with ice cream and whipped cream, and he took an immediate liking to this new delicacy.

Rhine River Gorge

The Rhine River Gorge is a 40 mile section of the Rhine River that has a high concentration of castles. We sat up on the sundeck, camera in hand, waiting to be amazed... we were not disappointed.

The Rhine River was an important trade route and the castles, most of which were built in the 13th century, provided homes for wealthy families that collected tolls along the river. Many of the castles were destroyed or fell into disrepair as a result of the Thirty Years War that raged through central Europe from 1618 to 1648.

Some castles were later purchased and renovated, while others remain as ruins on the hilltops overlooking the river. Shown here are: Stolzenfels Castle, Marksburg Castle, Maus Castle, Rheinfels Castle, Katz Castle, and Schoenburg Castle.

Enemy Brothers

There are two castles, Sterrenberg Castle and Liebenstein Castle, that sit high atop the same hill. The castles were owned by brothers and between the castles is a high wall designed to keep the brothers apart.

The brothers, Henry and Konrad, were wooing the same woman, a young lady named Angela. Henry, the older brother, was heir to the family castle and land. Their father had built a second castle for Konrad nearby.

Konrad was more of a fighter and went off to join the crusades. Before he left, Angela pledged herself to Konrad. When Konrad returned, five years later, he brought with him, as his wife, a woman that had helped him escape his captors from the crusades.

Angela, who had waited for Konrad, was heartbroken and became a nun. Henry, who had been unsuccessful at wooing Angela was angry at his brother and they each moved into their respective castles and the wall between them still stands between the two castles to this day.

Legend of the Lorelei

The Lorelei, which is a 430 foot tall slate rock on the banks of the Rhine River, has some unique characteristics. The rock creates an echo that works to amplify sound and during a heavy current or when the small waterfall in the area is particularly full, the rock sounds as if it is murmuring.

Various legends, folk tales, poems, and even part of a Shostakovich symphony have all grown from the murmuring powers of this rock. The stories center around a beautiful young woman who distracts sailors as they pass by this deep narrow bend in the river. The song of this woman is so alluring, that sailors would run aground or wreck their ships as in the dangerous currents near the Lorelei.

Currently, all that remains of the legend is a statue of a woman on a narrow spit of land that juts out near the Lorelei rock. Nearby, at the top of a hill we saw Gutenfels Castle. Then, on a small island in the river we saw Pfalzgrafenstein Castle.

More Rhine River Castles

We also saw Oberwessel Tower, Stahleck Castle, Furstenberg Castle, Sooneck Castle, and Reichenstein Castle.


We took a gondola ride over the vineyards to the top of a hill which had spectacular views and a large monument that commorates the unification of the German Empire. The Niederwald Monument was built between 1870 and 1880 and is about 125 feet tall.

We also saw St. James Church which was first built in the 10th century. The current church is almost completely rebuilt from remains of the original that were salvaged after a bomb attack in WWII.

Seen about Town

As we wandered through the shopping area, we saw some interesting lamps that looked like women holding umbrellas. We also came across an old fashioned organ grinder, an interesting wood carving, and a gaggle of Pomeranian Geese crossing the road (to get to the other side).

In most of the towns that we visited along the Moselle and the Rhine, there were little hop on hop off trains for the tourists to use as a form of public transportation. This particular train was named Emma.

Siegfried's Mechanical Music Museum

Siegfried's Mechanical Music Museum has an amazing collection of unique and historical music boxes and mechanical instruments that date from the 18th to the 20th century. The tour guide explained the history of many of the devices and then gave us a demonstration of how they worked.