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Most of the German part of the Rhein River valley wound among the country's
bustling industrial base, including such major cities as Mannheim,
Düsseldorf. But in the province of Rheinland-Pfalz between
Bonn, the Rhein enjoyed the relative peace,
quiet, and beauty of one of Germany's wine regions. The valley was a very popular
destination, with its sprawling vineyards, many huge castles, and charming
little towns. The state of Hessen owns just a small part of riverfront
territory, but one of the absolute best was the beautiful little town of Rüdesheim,
just a short drive west from Wiesbaden.
Why was Rüdesheim so popular? Perhaps it is due to its
location -- being well within reach of Frankfurt
but culturally so far away. Or, perhaps it was because of its extensive shopping and festivals
that ran year-round. Or, it could be due to the existence of the Seilbahn,
that takes thousands of visitors to the top of the ridgeline to get a perfect
view of the Rhein from the Niederwald Monument. Or because of the colorful
wine cellars lavishly decorated with flowers.
district was always bustling, because it was the first thing visitors
saw. The main road followed the riverbank closely, and the parking
lots were at either end of town. The majority of the big souvenir
stands were here, as were the fast-food (German equivalent) stands.
Meanwhile, the real downtown was a block or two
inland. At the east end was a large open market square with the
town's main church. Nearby was the beginning of the main road (Oberstrasse)
that parallel the river. This golden Swiss chalet-type building
was one of several terrific outdoor restaurants along the roads.
|This was another view
of the Oberstrasse in the middle of a very hot day. The street was
lined with cafes and ice cream parlors which were very busy. In
the distance was a yellow tourist train that somehow made its way
through the crowd every fifteen minutes.
||There are several wine
cellars like this one where, for a fee, visitors are free to sample
various local wines in a sophisticated environment and talk wine with
the experts. The Zum Felsenkeller was in the middle of the main
street, not far from the Seilbahn.
|Probably the most talked about spot in Rüdesheim
was the Drosselgasse, a narrow cobblestone avenue in the western part of
town. It was the town's cultural
heart, loaded with beautifully decorated restaurants, open-air winegardens, and
massive souvenir shops. Live music played all through the
summertime, whether it was traditional bands or karaoke. The tightness of
the street never seems to deter -- it was always packed elbow-to-elbow!
One of the most scenic things to do was take the Seilbahn
(cable car) to the Niederwald
Denkmal. The fifteen minute open air ride went over the vineyards from
only a couple meters above the ground. One could also take a shallow-grade walk
or bike ride through the vineyards up to the Denkmal (or one could drive it as
well). It was relaxing, so long as one was not afraid of heights.
The Denkmal itself was magnificent. It was so large
that it was easily visible from all the
way across the Rhein, yet its detailing was so intricate that one had to get up
close to appreciate it. There was more to do on the hill as well, such as
aviary established in the woods behind it. I had the pleasure of
watching a falconer bringing out a large raptor for exercise, letting it soar
over the crowd then taking a rest on the railing just
long enough for the tourists to take nice up-close photos. The aviary is
open to the public for a small fee.
has a number of great museums. The must-see among them is shown above -- the Rheingau
Wine Museum located in the Brömser Castle (the square brick tower) at the
riverfront at the westernmost
point in town. Containing hundreds of exhibits of original medieval
winemaking equipment, the Wine Museum celebrated hundreds of years of the
region's major trade. The view from the top was terrific as well.
|The last two pictures
cover scenes along the river to the east. This beautiful
castle-like structure was the old customs house, now repainted pink and
white and converted to a museum.
||But further east, the
road turned inland toward Wiesbaden and the riverfront became a huge
park, including this walking trail and an adjacent marina. We had
a terrific view of another castle across the Rhein and there were
hundreds of ducks and geese to feed. |
If you have time, you might also consider taking a ferry ride
across the Rhein to the town of Bingen. Bingen was not as touristic, but it
had its own castles and wine cellars to boast. Rüdesheim was a great day trip. Easy to get to and loads of fun, it
was a wonderful place to go if one wanted to see the Rhein River at its best. However, as it
was very popular,
I recommend arriving early in the day as the parking lots filled
Trip taken 3 May 2002 --
updated 26 October 2006 --
(C) 2006 Tom Galvin