rheinfels
Admission: 4,00 €
Guided tour: you can take the tour but you don´t have to. Once a week - registration required - they have a guided tour at night
Hotel: yes
Café/Restaurant: a restaurant in the castle but just inside, and the ter- race of the hotel
Information: a small booklet about the history of the fortress and a ground plan of the ruin with detailed description given to you at the coun- ter and various booklets and books differing in price
Souvenirs: well assorted shop at the hotel

Location: On the left bank of the Rhine in St. Goar, ca 28 km from Bingen
Approach: you can drive up to the fortress. Chargeable parking lot in front of it

The ground map you get at the entrance comes in quite handy if you want to wander the ruin all by yourself. The dimensions are huge. Although I spent nearly three hours in the fortress I doubt that I REALLY saw every- thing. There´s no end to the number of tunnels, stairs, yards and towers on different levels.
You really can spend a whole afternoon here. And even on a well attended day you will only at times meet someone else. Map in their hands, a con- fused look in their eyes, muttering to themselves: "I´ve been here before, haven´t I?" Just like yourself.
For the full impact of the experience it´s highly advisable to bring a torch with you, as there are numerous dark, narrow tunnels, through which you have to, well, crawl sometimes.

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And no matter how aware you are of the bright day outside, of hundreds of people within earshot, the moment you round the first corner - dark nar- row tunnel ahead, dark, narrow tunnel behind - you just as well could be the first heroic person to advance into these unexplored and dangerous depths. Around the next corner you suddenly catch a glimpse of daylight, you quicken your steps and you hasten onto a grass-grown spot behind wall ruins, a confused look in your eyes, muttering: "I´ve been here be- fore, haven´t I?"
If you don´t have a torch with you or if you want to boost the kick further still, use nothing but your digicam: Walk a few meters into the tunnel, turn on the flashlight, press the releaser and inspect the next bright meters on the display of the camera. Keep on walking in the pitch-black dark, repeat procedure. (Please try not to do this with a camera like mine, which, due to a fall at an unlucky angle, got a broken battery compartment lid establish- ing only randomly the power supply by means of three rubber bands and a latex glove wrapped around the camera.
It is NOT cool to be standing (well, lucky to be STANDING...) deep in one of those tunnels only to realize that your camera has chosen this very moment to experience one of its sporadic loose contacts...)
There´s also a museum on the fortress site which rather impressively shows the history of Festung Rheinfels. The terrace of the hotel offers a beautiful view of the Rhine and Burg Katz, the service is friendly and un- complicated even towards dusty tourists with an absent-minded look in their eyes.

Résumé: "I´ve been here here before, haven´t I?"... in case I haven´t made myself clear enough: Festung Rheinfels is awesome!!!

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It really gives the impression of a medieval fortress. Its still powerful and mighty remnants invite you to let your imagination wander while providing you with fun and adventure at the same time. One - if not THE -highlight of the Rhine castles. Absolutely recommendable!
Halloween at Festung Rheinfels

History: Castle Rheinfels was built in 1245 by the counts of Katzenelnbo- gen as a guard for the custom of St. Goar. Before long Rheinfels became one of the most powerful castle sites at the Rhine and the increasingly im- portant administration centre of the counts of Katzenelnbogen, who in the 14th century built Burg Katz, opposite the fortress on the other riverbank and could thus exercise an effective barrier across the Rhine.
When the dynasty of the counts of Katzenelnbogen became extinct at the end of the 15th century, Rheinfels came into possession of the Hessian landgrave who converted it into a magnificent renaissance palace creating thereby one of the most fortified castles in Germany.
During the Palatine War of Succession Festung Rheinfels was the only cas- tle on the left bank of the Rhine withstanding the attacking French. With a force of only 4000 men they defended themselves against an enemy army of 28.000.
But the next war came. In 1794 the fortress was handed over without a fight to the French revolution army who blew up this proud castle in 1796. At the beginning of the 19th century the ruin served as a quarry for the re- construction of Festung Ehrenbreitstein. In 1843 later emperor Wilhelm I acquired the fortress, which is preserved as a ruin ever since and is now in the possession of the town of St. Goar.

Links: http://www.burg-rheinfels.com

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