Sure, everyone is familiar with the Rhine. We’ve all heard the songs and legends (and maybe even seen a puppet show) based on the mighty river that crosses the length of Germany from south to north. But with so much focus on the romantic Rhine, people tend to forget the Mosel river, which is a tremendous shame, because the Castles on the Mosel River (Moselle River) are a special treat for visitors to Germany. This beautiful River is a tributary of the Rhine River, running from the Lorraine Region of France, along the border of Luxembourg, and then into Germany, meeting the Rhine at Koblenz. The Mosel is lined with steep vineyards, picturesque villages and fantastic fairy tale castles. This river less traveled area is well worth visiting.
Burg Landshut Bernkastle Kues
You won’t find much industry here. Over the course of the past 800 years the Mosel River Valley has changed hands from German to French and back again. And before that… the Romans planted their grapevines on the shale covered hills. Wars were fought, Knights were granted land, and castles were built. Today many of the Castles are open for visitors with tours, cafes and museums, others are Hotels (staying in a Castle sounds fun), a couple have live re-enactments or summer camps, some have classes to take, and a few are just ruins.
The Moselle River Valley is a beautiful place to visit… lush, green, dotted with small towns along the river. There are loads of outdoor activities like hiking, biking and boating. The food and wine are excellent, and the cafes provide a wonderful place to slow down.
Inner Courtyard of Burg Eltz
Our family spent a week visiting the area. We enjoyed touring a few of the fairy tale castles, and others we just saw from a distance as we went by along the water. Since we were traveling with kids, we did not stop at EVERY Castle… we chose a few, and we saved the rest for next time. (Unless you are a true Castle Buff… the excitement of touring castles might wear off after a while.)
Pick your favorites, and enjoy your visit to the Castles on the Mosel River.
Cochem on the Moselle River
The Castles on the Moselle
The Mosel River (or Moselle River), a tributary of the Rhine, runs from the Lorraine region of France, through Luxembourg to Koblenz, Germany. This beautiful Valley is well known today for its vineyards that thrive on the sunny shale walls.
The Mosel River Valley may not be as well known as the Rhine River Valley, but it is every bit as lovely, and is far less crowded. The green hills, picturesque small towns, and fabulous Castles are well worth visiting.
On our trip to the Mosel we had a car, but we also took a day cruise. There is something so wonderful and relaxing about cruising down the Moselle. You look up at hills covered with Vineyards, and here and there…a Castle.
It was easy to get on and off our boat, and we enjoyed wandering through villages along the water.
Castles On the Mosel River
Stolzenfelz – Koblenz
Where the Mosel and the Rhine meet
The Mosel meets the Rhine at Koblenz, and high above the city is Stolzenfelz. Currently, the castle is undergoing massive restorations, but you may still visit the gardens.
As castles go, it is fairly recent… the original castle, built to gather tolls from travelers, was destroyed. The current castle was built in the 1860s.
We even saw the Prince!
Burg Eltz was built in the 1200′s, and has remained safe and hidden since then. It is not directly on the Mosel, but a few miles inland, in its own Valley.
This Castle is truly special… loaded with towers and turrets. Warning… it is a long LONG walk downhill from the parking lot (this means a LONG LONG walk back UPHILL to the parking lot). There is a shuttle. The tour through the castle is very good, and can be taken in a number of languages. You get to see bedrooms, kitchen and the treasure room. (My favorite part… the gold decorated coconut).
There is a café, so you can grab a slice of Apfel Kuchen (apple cake) and a Tasse Kafe (cup of coffee), and it overlooks a stream, so it’s a nice place to stop. We enjoyed playing in the inner courtyard of the castle… my daughter started a fun game of “find the gargoyle” (actually, they are downspouts.. but they look like dragons…very cool).
The Family still lives in Burg Eltz, and the residence part of the Castle is clearly marked. We did actually see the Prince of the Castle .. the girls and I were thrilled!
Photo by M Budde via Wikipedia commons
Burg Arras is above the town of Alf. It was built in the 900s making it the oldest Castle in the area. This castle is closely tied with much of German History, and the museum is loaded with artifacts from its Medieval history.
Currently, it is a Hotel. Imagine! Spending your vacation as the guest in a Castle! There is also a restaurant, with both public and private rooms. You can order a special banquet, complete with Medieval entertainers! Book a stay HERE
The original Schloss Cochem was built in the 11th century, and the town thrived on charging tolls down the Mosel River – they laid a chain across the water, and would stop ships from passing. All was fine and good, until the Castle was completely destroyed by the French under the reign of Louis the Sun King in the late 1600s. It lay in ruins until the 1860s, when it was rebuilt to be the summer residence for the family Ravene’, which was quite the “thing to do” by wealthy families at the time.
The Castle, although “modern” in age, looks like a romantic Fairy Tale Castle on the hill, so it’s one of the more photographed Castles on the Mosel River. Tourist flock to Cochem to see the castle (many tours run daily). The town itself is quite nice, great for walking, or a café stop. My children were delighted to find Swans in the Mosel here. They were also delighted by the large Moselbad in town, complete with giant water slide and a sauna for mom.
It’s a miracle that Burg Thurant still stands. Dating back to 1197, the castle got its name from the fortified city in Syria, because the builder fought (unsuccessfully) with Frederick Barbarossa in the Crusades to take the fortified town. (I guess he must have thought giving the castle the name of an impregnable city would work.) Sadly, the castle ended up at the center of a battle between two bishoprics… Cologne and Trier… They literally split the castle in two! Each half occupied by different forces. A wall was build in the middle (sort of like the masking tape down the middle of a shared bedroom) and a tower was built on each end. In the 1600s the castle was abandoned and left to fall apart. In 1911 the castle was privately purchased, and renovations were made. In 1945, the Allies caused some damage. Today it’s open for tours. Don’t miss the Chapel with its Baroque Altar!
Marienburg above Pünderich
Marienburg’s location makes it noteworthy. It sits high on a narrow strip of land where the Mosel makes a loop. Look carefully at the picture and you can see a bit of the Mosel behind as well as in front of the castle. The building started out an Augustinian Monestary, but in 1515 the building was converted to a fortification. Today the Burg belongs to the Archdiocese, and is used as a youth center. You can’t go inside, but you can hike around (there is a parking lot)… and the views are fabulous.
Grevenberg Castle Ruins
Schloss Grevenberg was originally built in the 1350s, changed hands a number of times, and was finally destroyed by the French in the 1700s. There is not much left of the Castle Grevenberg, just some ruins. But, in a way, that makes it more fun. There is nothing like a ruined castle for kids… their imaginations can go wild. Also, the view from the ruins is magnificent. Pack a picnic and enjoy a few hours in the sunshine. (At least you won’t have to worry about the kids breaking anything.)
The ruins sit about the towns of Traben -Trarbach, which are joined across the Mosel River by a beautiful bridge. This is an area rich in wine making, so it’s a good spot for tastings. The Mosel River makes a HUGE bend at this point, so it’s quite picturesque.
We stayed on the hill above the bend in a small vacation village, run by a Dutch company, called Landall Mt Royal. Our little hut had 2 small bedrooms, and a great room with a kitchen on one end… and a SPECTACULAR view. We were smack in the middle of the Mosel river here, so day-tripping was easy.
Visit, eat, stay…. maybe get married…
Burg Pyrmont is a bit off the Mosel… east of Cochem. It is a beautiful Castle to visit, high on a hill surrounded by lovely views. Take a tour and learn about the 800 years of Castle history. Rooms are filled with antiques and original pieces.
After the tour, enjoy the landscaped grounds, and maybe stop for a snack in the café.
Want to get married in a Castle? Burg Pyrmont is the place for you. They have packages for up to 300 guests… you can marry in the gardens, the chapel or in the main hall. Food and lodging are available.
Metternich Castle / Beilstein
Ruined Castle East of Cochem
Until the early 1900s Beilstein was only accessible by water…today, a road goes in to town, but Beilstein maintains its old-world character. The Castle up on the hill was destroyed (like so many of the areas castles) by the French in the 1680s. I love that the ruins still stand. You can take a nice hike up the hill for a panoramic view (it’s a steep hike, wear good shoes). You can tour the ruins for a small entry fee of a few Euros. And naturally, there is a restaurant, so you can enjoy a wine or coffee with your view.
Although it’s a ruin now, in the 15th century, Schloss Veldenz was the largest castle along the central Moselle. The castle has passed hands from family to family, and been in the path of war for years. One owner even used the castle as a quarry (to build another castle?). Today the site is in private hands, and the space is used for exhibitions and concerts.
I love the description on their website- Guided tours of the castle and its history take place every Wednesday at 2:00 p.m. from May 4th to October 26th, 2022. The municipality also organizes themed hikes to the castle on Wednesdays. 5 pieces of silver, children up to sword size free. (Would that be a Long Sword? Broad Sword? Scimitar?) You can also contact them for private tours. Schloss Veldez
Ehrenburg near Brodenbach
Immerse Yourself in Medieval History
Ehrenburg is where you go to fall back in time. Medieval Re-enactors bring the days of Knights and Chivalry to life. 850 years of history are presented in this fairy tale castle straight out of Sleeping Beauty.
This is a castle that does its best to thrive on its heritage. You can attend classes in Medieval Arms- Bow and Arrow, as well as Catapults, Chivalry, and Magic, as well as Medieval Dance. School classes and camps are hosted here, as are corporate events and weddings. During the weekends there are special shows and programs open to the public. You can eat in a restaurant serving period food. Also, there is a small hotel (just 5 rooms) to live out your knight and damsel fantasy (as a slight deviation from history… hot showers are available.) If you like attending the Renaissance Faire, you will LOVE Ehrenburg.
Burg Landshut Bernkastle Kues
You can get to the Burg Landshut by car, by shuttle, and (of course) on foot. Despite being destroyed 3 times, the castle keeps coming back. Current renovations are perfect for visitors with loads of signs explaining the castle and are history. Guided tours by costumed guides happen from April to October.
Only Ruins are Left
Saarburg was built by Count Siegfried of Luxembourg on an hilltop above the Saar River, a small Tributary of the Moselle River. The Castle is now just ruins, but they can be explored. There is even a chair lift to take you up the vineyard covered hill to the Castle!
The town of Saarburg is lovely with Half-timbered houses and Baroque buildings. In the middle of town is a 20 meter high waterfall that supplied the water for the many mills in Saarburg. The old city wall and with its towers and gates still stands. It is a beautiful place to visit.
In Nenning, Germany
Why the unusual name? The building started out as a Berg (a fortified building) in the 9th century… then in the 1500s, it converted to a Renaissance Schloss (Castle). Today it’s a Hotel and Casino, that sits right across the Mosel from Luxembourg on the Schengen Border Triangle (the June 15, 1985 Schengen agreement was signed there.)
There is so much to see and do on the Mosel… Sign up for your Favorites HERE
Wine Tasting, biking, even canoeing!
Mosel Perle- Pearl of the Moselle
Another great Day Cruise choice. These boats travel all day, and make stops at most towns along the Mosel. You can sit inside, or out on deck making it an easy way to see the the cities, castles and villages along the Mosel River.
This is a great way to see the Mosel Valley slowly slip by.
Cruise the Rhine and Mosel Rivers with Uniworld
10 Days from Frankfurt to Strasbourg! Begin in Frankfurt, visit Cochem, Trier, Bernkastel, Boppard, Rüdesheim, Speyer and Strasbourg.
Our Family Stayed Near Saarburg and Trier
This Family Vacation Village is near the border of France, Germany and Luxembourg, and is a great central place for day trips in the area. Kid friendly with a pool and activities, adult friendly with lovely views and good food.
Mosel River Valley Map
Whether you drive, cruise or bike… it’s good to have a map of the Moselle River Valley