• Castles of the Rhine

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    The Rhine flows all the way from the snowy peaks of the Swiss Alps to the North Sea in the Netherlands, bending peacefully through part of Europe, with its waters reflecting the slow movements of the clouds above.

    The romantic ambience cast by the passing un-spoilt greenery, vineyards, little towns and historical architecture is sure to make you feel like you have escaped back in time, the scenery echoing with exciting and mystical tales of the past. This is especially true of the fairytale like medieval castles you will see.

    Many of the castles of the Rhine are located close to each other around Germany. This feels appropriate, with the Brothers Grimm like ambience created through such aged and charismatic buildings.

    SS AntoinetteA castle on the Rhine

    The Sooneck Castle is one of the most popular due to the magnificent view it hosts. It has quite a tumultuous history too, as many castles do. Dating back to around the 11th century it played a big part in defending the Abbey Kornelimünster. Unfortunately it was then destroyed and rebuilt twice, eventually being turned into a hunting seat that was completed in 1861.

    The lovely thing about this castle is the effort that has gone into preserving its authentic 19th century identity so that visitors can get a real feel for its prime time in history. There are also a selection of paintings and furniture that add to Sooneck’s fascinating interior.

    Many of these castles also offer the opportunity to explore the tranquil nature of the local villages nearby or beautifully scenic routes towards historical cities. A good example of this is the Schönburg Castle, which has even been called ‘the most beautiful refuge of the Rhine romanticism’ by Ferdinand Freiligrath, who as a famous poet, you can trust the opinion of.

    Schönburg Castle

    Schönburg Castle

    It has suffered the fate of destruction like many of its fellow castles along the Rhine, though was then rebuilt from 1885 to become what you see to this day. The notable points of this castle are the luxurious hotel within it, its powerful shield wall and an extraordinary hiking trail that takes you towards the city of Oberwesel, which is spirited with an aura of the Middle Ages.

    The Liebenstein Castle is truly beautiful. The main legend that surrounds it is that its owner was in a dispute with the owner of the Sterrenberg Castle, giving them both the nickname of the ‘Hostile Brothers’. While adding to the animated presence of this building, it is also not likely to be true.

    Liebenstein Castle

    The Liebenstein and Sterrenberg Castles

    The Liebenstein dates back to the 13th century and its two shield walls were actually built to defend the Sterrenberg. Nowadays it has a hotel and a place to eat, offering visitors the chance to explore at a laid back pace, taking their time to relax amongst the incredible atmosphere of centuries past.

    Lastly, the Marksburg Castle is certainly worth a mention. Its 14th century identity is still completely preserved, making it stand out from the other castles on the Rhine. You can experience the authentic interiors of rooms such as the kitchen, knight’s hall, wine cellar and the battlements, connecting with those that would have at one time traced these same paths when they were actually in use.

    If you are looking to get away from it all and see Europe from a historical perspective, visiting the castles along the Rhine is a must. Due to their close proximity you’ll be able to visit a great many too, getting acquainted with each of their unique narratives.

    Photo Credits: Schönburg Castle: flickr; Liebenstein and Sterrenberg Castles: flickr

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    Nicola considers herself very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a number of places around the world and these experiences usually involve searching for as many kinds of wildlife as possible. Recent highlights include penguins in Antarctica, bears and whales in Canada and Alaska and sea otters in California - but there are always more animals to search for.

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