Rüdesheim am Rhein is one of the most beautiful wine regions in Germany. Stroll among the half-timbered buildings of the old town and Drosselgasse, see castles and vineyards during a Rhine river cruise, and sip local riesling and pinot noir in Medieval settings.
See the Niederwald Monument
Walk up the stone steps of the Niederwald Monument for an up-close look at Kaiser Wilhelm I among soldiers, carved into a relief, beneath a 10m-tall (34ft) Germania figure. The statue was built between 1870 and 1880 to commemorate the unification of the German Empire after the Franco-Prussian War. It’s flanked by vineyards and sits atop a vantage point at Niederwald Park, so the peaceful setting alone is worth a visit to the monument.
Stroll along Drosselgasse
At the heart of the old town in Rüdesheim is Drosselgasse, a 144m (472ft) cobbled street lined with timber-framed buildings. It might be olde worlde in architecture, but, here, you’ll find some of the best entertainment venues in the city, from live music in taverns to restaurants serving regional dishes. Three million visitors a year flock here – partly for the Breuer’s Rüdesheim Castle (a 1,000-year-old building that’s now a restaurant and hotel) and the atmospheric Christmas Market.
Visit the wine museums at Brömserburg Castle
Brömserburg Castle is one of the oldest castles in the Middle Rhine region. It was built in the 10th century as a fortress, with vaulted ceilings and walls more than 2m (7ft) thick. These days, it contains an excellent wine museum – over 2,000 exhibits are on display – including iron grape presses, wine barrels and carts – providing a deep insight into the wine production around the verdant Rhine Valley.
Pop into the Benedictine Abbey of St Hildegard
The Abbey of St Hildegard is set among vineyards on a hill above Rüdesheim town, delivering a magnificent view over the Middle Rhine Valley. Inside, the frescoes of this Romanesque-style abbey are an equally beautiful sight. The community of nuns here lives in accordance with the rules of Saint Benedict, dedicating themselves to prayer and work. It’s not all stoicism though: they also produce their own wine – which you can buy in the gift shop alongside original art and books.
Stop by the Klunkhardshof
Behind the bustling market square is an icon of Rüdesheim: the Klunkardshof. This two-storey, half-timbered building with a gabled roof dates back to the early 16th century and was once owned by the respectable Klunkhard family. It’s a prime example of German Medieval architecture – although it’s also still a private residence, so you can only view it from outside.
Take a castle cruise on the Rhine River
A history of Medieval knights and kings lingers across the Middle Rhine Valley, in the form of 40 enchanting castles. Several of the castles can be seen around Rüdesheim during a short boat trip such as the 1.5-hour Rhine Valley Castles cruise. You’ll sail past castles such as Rheinstein, Brömserburg and Klopp, as well as Binger Bridge and the Mouse Tower of Binger Loch, among romantic pinot noir vineyards.
See the sights by cable car
If you want to take in a panorama over the valley without tackling any hills on foot, the Seilbahn Rüdesheim is the way to go. The cable car whisks you from the town centre up to the Niederwald Monument (and to the red-wine town of Assmanshausen), with an impressive panorama over the vineyards and the shimmering waters of the Rhine River. It’s also wheelchair and pushchair-accessible, so everyone can enjoy the experience.
Browse the instruments at Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet
The museum of Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet contains one of the biggest collections of self-playing instruments in the world. A stone’s throw from the Drosselgasse, this enchanting place features all sorts of musical curiosities, from fragile music boxes to the gigantic piano-orchestrion. Check out the snuff box with a musical songbird from the early 19th century, as well as Bernhard Dufner’s band of 27 automatic dolls, and the incredible mechanical violins.
Have dinner at Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss
In the heart of the old town lies the four-star hotel, Breuer’s Rüdesheimer Schloss – the place to try the top cuisine and wine from this region. The monthly changing menu is focused around seasonal produce from the area, with favourite dishes including Hessian tapas, riesling-cheese soup and schloss (castle) duck. The building was first constructed by the archbishop of Mainz in 1729, and it’s now a Unesco World Heritage site. It’s the perfect setting to end a day of sightseeing in the historic town.
See birds of prey at Adlerwarte Niederwald
Combine a hike through the mountains with a visit to the Adlerwarte Niederwald observatory. It takes in vulnerable and injured birds of prey, with the aim of reintroducing them to the wild. You can usually see more than 40 species here, including eagles, falcons, vultures and owls. Join a guided tour for an insight into the behaviour of the majestic creatures. From the observatory, you can also hike to the nearby castle ruin of Rossel, or further to Johannisberg castle.
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