The Castles on the Mosel River… also known as the 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 less traveled area is well worth visiting.
Over the course of the past 800 years the Mosel River Valleyhas changed hands from German to French and back again… Wars were fought, Knights were granted land, and castles were built. 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.
Inner Courtyard of Burg Eltz
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.
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.
Where to find the Castles on the Mosel River
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.
Mosel River Valley Map
Whether you drive, cruise or bike… it’s good to have a map of the Moselle River Valley
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.
Koberg-Gondorf has 2 Castles
Aldenberg and Niederburg
Aldenberg was the home of the Lords of Koberg, and possibly dates back to 980. The castle overlooks the lower castle Niederburg, which was built in the 1100s using the latest in defense architecture.
It is said that the upper castle was built on the ruins of an old Celtic fortification, and the lower on Roman ruins.
photo from http://www.mosel-reisefuehrer.de/kobern.htm
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) but 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 cafe, 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 taken by me
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!
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. Tourist flock to Cochem to see the castle (many tours run daily). The town itself is quite nice, great for walking, or a cafe stop. My children were delighted to find Swans in the Mosel here. They were also delighted by the large indoor swimming hall in town, complete with giant water slide and a sauna for mom.
photo by me
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.
photo by me
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 cafe.
Want to get married in a Castle? Burg Purmont 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.
photo from http://www.burg-pyrmont.de/burg/
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.The ruins still stand, and it is a nice hike up the hill for a panoramic view.
Note..behind the castle and up the hill a bit is a small Jewish cemetery.
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.
KD Cruise Lines has a one day Hop-On Hop-Off pass that is good for the Moselle AND the Rhine River!
With 40 ports, you can spend a whole day exploring without having to make a schedule. Just jump off when you want.
order yours HERE–> River Day Pass
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.
Only Ruins are Left
Saarburg photo by Michielverbeek via Wikipedia commons
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
Schloss Berg, or Castle Berg, is in Nenning, right across the Mosel from Luxembourg. Today, it is a casino and hotel.
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.
Wineries Along the Mosel River
The Moselle River Valley is known for its wines. The area was first planted with vines by the Romans to supply their troops stationed in Trier. Today, the 65% shale slopes are renowned for the production of sweet Riesling wines.
Take along Wine Guides to Germany, the Mosel and the Rhine Valley, and take your own German Wine Tour. Enjoy wineries along the Moselle and the Rhine. Many wineries have tasting rooms.
The Mosel River wines tend to be sweet…. so be careful, they can sneak up on you!
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.