Although there are more than three dozen castles that captivate those who sail through the Rhine’s upper middle valley, one particular stronghold, Marksburg Castle, is unique for being the only hilltop castle along the river that was never destroyed. Today, castle visitors can acquire firsthand knowledge of medieval fortresses, as most of the castle’s buildings date to the 13th, 14th, and 15th centuries. In fact, the castle’s kitchen, great hall, bedchamber, chapel, armory, wine cellar, and battlements provide visitors with a glimpse into life as it was lived during the Middle Ages.
In the years that immediately proceeded the Romantic period, wealthy entrepreneurs rebuilt many of the castles perched on hilltops overlooking the Rhine. Two of the most prominent and important are Rheinstein Castle and Reichenstein Castle. Originally built as a customs castle during the late 13th century, Rheinstein became the symbol of the 19th century’s castle reconstruction period and is now a protected World Heritage site. Visitors who tour the castle today will encounter suits of armor and knight-wielded weapons from the 15th century, not to mention a variety of artistic stained glass windows, some of which were made almost 700 years ago.
Similarly, a tour of Reichtenstein Castle, which was first built during the 11th century, allows visitors to walk through a library, music room, and the private chambers of the castle’s former residents, including a gallery that showcases numerous ancestral portraits. Additionally, guests will see 1,200 hunting trophies, a variety of antique weapons, 18th-century furniture, and ancient wine glasses from the Roman Empire. Visitors who venture up to the castle’s battlements will also be rewarded with stunning views of the Rhine.