Looking up from the river as you pass, this castle presents more of the romantic ideal of a medieval castle. Built in the 14th century it has the towers, drawbridge with portcullis, and defensive walls associated with castles of old. Inside the outer walls, it has an impressive hall with stain glass windows, a chapel with period wood carvings, and a grand garden with a 500-year-old grapevine, still producing. It is open to the public March through November. It is a truly beautiful place inside and out, with views high above the river.
Reichenstein or Falkenburg Castle
This castle towers above the town of Trachtinghausen. It is medieval having been built prior to the 13th century. It wasn’t long after it was built that it was destroyed by King Rudolph of Hapsburg. A century later it was rebuilt and expanded by the Archbishop of Mainz. It fell into ruins in the 16th century and it wasn’t until the mid-1800’s before its restoration began again. The castle is owned privately by a descendant of the Puricelli family who purchased it in 1899 and is now a museum open year-round (except January) dedicated to arms, hunting trophies and period furniture. It also boasts a 3-star hotel and a restaurant.
This is another castle nearby Rüdesheim. It sits partway up the hill on the eastern side of the river. Built in the early 13th century by the Archbishop of Mainz, its purpose was to control the river traffic and charge custom tariffs for the same. Now in ruins after the Seige of Mainz by the French in 1689, it is open to the public by appointment only.
Sailing by this spot you will most likely be engaged with photographing the “Mouse Tower” on an island in the river directly below the ruins. It was part of the same customs scheme to collect monies as ships passed by. Its name was probably a corruption of mautturm (toll tower) to mäuseturm (mouse tower). A legend exists concerning the karma of a cruel ruler, Hatto II’s, actions of burning alive his hungry peasants and comparing their screams to a mouse’s squeak. He was subsequently chased by a swarm of mice to a refuge in the top of this tower and was eaten alive by the rodents.
This was another castle built in the 13th century, destroyed by King Rudolph I, re-built by recipients of it as a gift from an Archbishop of Mainz, and eventually destroyed by the French. It passed into the possession of the nearby town of Neiderheimbach in the late 1700’s and was later purchased by the crown prince of Prussia and his brothers. They re-built the castle and re-purposed it as a hunting lodge. A revolution and two world wars intervened and today it is owned by the state. Organized tours are available. Be sure to visit the Knight Hall with its spooky picture of a Prussian soldier whose eyes seem to follow you about the room.