About Burg Rheinfels
Burg Rheinfels was an imposing medieval fortification, the dramatic ruins of which lie in St Goar in Germany.
Burg Rheinfels history
Burg Rheinfels was built by Diether V. von Katzenelnbogen along west bank of the River Rhine near village of St. Goar in 1245 as a sort of medieval “toll booth” levying charges on ships that sailed along the Rhine, Burg Rheinfels was hated by the citizens of the Rhineland. So much so in fact that the affected towns came together and laid siege to Burg Rheinfels for over a year. However, this vast and powerful fortress was too much for even these thousands of men and the siege was ultimately unsuccessful.
Over the next centuries, Burg Rheinfels was fortified even further. It withstood another siege – this time by the Spanish – in 1626 and the efforts of King Louis XIV’s army later that same century.
Between Bingen and Koblenz it was the biggest fortress for a very long time, only surpassed by the Ehrenbreitstein. It was classified as impregnable for many years. Not until the end of the 18th century, it had to succumb to French troops, because of their superior weapon`s technology during the Seven-Years-War.
Burg Rheinfels finally fell to the French in 1794 and was then slowly destroyed.
Burg Rheinfels today
Whilst not still in tact, what remains of Burg Rheinfels is still fascinating. The main entrance to the castle complex is a tall square clock or gate tower opposite the hotel. A connecting path joins the clock tower to the remains of the living quarters of the Earls of Hessen-Darmstadt, the Darmstadt Building. The Darmstadt building was designed in Tudor style with pointed gables.
Visitors can even tour its 15th century underground tunnels or stay in part of the castle – which is now a hotel. There is also a museum about the history of Burg Rheinfels, which includes models showing how it would once have looked.
Getting to Burg Rheinfels
To reach the sprawling ruins, it’s a 550m uphill walk; allow 20 minutes. The area is less than 2 hours drive from Frankfurt and the nearest station to the castle is St Goar.