Lists! > Ten Places on the Rhine
10 Great Spots Along the Rhine!
The Rhine (or Rhein) River is often viewed as "Germany's river", but in fact several countries has territory bordering on it -- Switzerland, Austria, France, and the Netherlands, in fact. On the other hand, the Germans own the bulk of it, use it as a major industrial thoroughfare, and have many more festivals celebrating it. (And the crossing of the Rhine by Allied troops in 1945 symbolized the eventual fall of the Third Reich.)
And so, this month's list is dedicated to the Rhein River, from its beginnings in central Switzerland to the castle-laden Rheintal further north. This list is given in order of appearance from source, not in order of preference (hence it is not a numbered list).
As I remark in my travelogue of Chur, I found it interesting that the mighty Rhein River was a mere stream that I could wade across if I wanted. Indeed, compare this shot with some others later in this list.
The city of Chur is tucked away in the remote eastern regions of Switzerland, a beautiful little city just off the confluence of the not-quite-as-mighty Rhein and the tiny Alpine river called Plessur.
Lake Constance, also known as the Bodensee, sits on the borders of Switzerland, Austria, and Germany. The Rhine passes through here, entering as a large stream but leaving as a fairly good-sized river. Some of the great places to visit around Lake Constance includes the charming little town of Wasserburg, shown here, the tourist haven of Lindau am Bodensee, and the Austrian border city of Bregenz.
Schaffhausen and the Rheinfall, Switzerland
This is where the might of the Rhein begins to show. Pouring over a twenty meter drop, the Rheinfall is one of northern Switzerlands most beautiful waterfalls. Like Niagara, you can take a boat to the base, or climb down the cliffs below the Schloss Laufen and get a soaking-wet up close look.
The city of Schaffhausen is a beautiful city, too, with the Munot Castle perched high over a colorful, decorative old-fashioned downtown.
After departing Switzerland via the northwest city of Basel, the Rhein moves northward to form the border between Germany (specifically the Black Forest mountains) and France (Alsace) until the city of Karlsruhe. Soon after, the Rhein reaches the first of several key cities from the days of the Holy Roman Empire. Speyer has one of the more impressive Cathedrals from this era, and a bright and colorful downtown to match.
Thirty miles northward, as the Rhein meets up with the Neckar, the river becomes very heavily industrialized. Mannheim (pictured) and its sister city Ludwigshafen crowd the riversides with huge warehouses and ports, much of which was rebuilt after World War II as this district was heavily bombed. Mannheim is a major commercial thoroughfare nowadays, sitting at the juncture of two major autobahns -- A5 (Frankfurt-Switzerland) and A6 (France-Austria) -- that are now heavily trafficked by trucks.
Worms* is best known as the site where Martin Luther made his famous stand against the abuses of the Catholic Church in 1521, thus launching the Protestant movement. Nowadays, Worms is another of the Rhine's major ports and an eclectic mix of new and old architectures. The entrance to this west bank city is marked by the Weintor (shown here), built in the center of the bridge.
* pronounced VOHRMSS, not the squiggly things
Rüdesheim is one of Hessen's greatest tourist attractions, a colorful little city that celebrates the Rhinehessen's great wine traditions. The Doppelgasse is a very decorative avenue lined with wine bars. Shown here is the city castle and wine museum. The picture was taken from a chairlift that took me to the famous Niederwald Denkmal, a massive 19th century war memorial.
The Rheintal from Bingen am Rhein to Koblenz, Germany
Sitting across from Rüdesheim is Bingen, marking the beginning of the Rhine's most attractive part, the vineyard and castle-covered Rhine Valley stretching about 25 miles. The valley is very windy, and at each corner is a humongous castle ruin that has been converted into a restaurant or museum. Some of the castles, like the Pfalzgrafenstein shown here, are unusual. The Pfalzgrafenstein was built on a small island in the middle of the river!
At Koblenz, the Rhine joins up with the Mosel River from France, forming the famous Deutsches Eck, pictured here. One thing that I found interesting -- note how murky the Rhein is below, compared with the clean water of the Mosel above. This pic was taken from the top of the Ehrenbreitstein Castle, a brilliant old fortress that sprawls along high cliffs. The wonderful and massive downtown is just off the photo to the left.
The final stop on this tour is the beautiful city of Cologne, with its massive Cathedral and the lovely Gross St. Martin (pictured) at riverside. This shot was taken from the top of the Cathedral, which you can climb for just a couple Euro. Cologne has a lot of shopping, with huge market squares below the Cathedral and a mile-long pedestrian district with just about everything you could want.
Next month: A look at the Danube!
(c) 2003 Tom Galvin