Rhine Gorge

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The 41-mile (65km) section of the Rhine River known as the Rhine Gorge was named a UNESCO World Heritage site for its castles, historic views and vineyards. This dramatic stretch of waterway has 40 castles, among the greatest concentration in the world, and was featured in The Learning Channel’s Great Castles of Europe Rhine Castles segment.

After a wonderful morning spent walking through the vineyards at Rudesheim, the AmaMora got underway on a three-hour cruise through the Rhine Gorge. We bundled up in the cold weather and spent much of the time on the upper deck, enjoying the scenery and the numerous castles. Many years ago, we’d watched the Great Castles of Europe series, and marvelled that we actually were here now viewing them in person.

Below are trip highlights from Dec 27th, 2019 along the Rhine Gorge. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.

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Rheinstein Castle
Rheinstein Castle, built in the 14th century and currently owned by the family of opera singer Hermann Hecher, who purchased the castle in 1975 and renovated it.
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Reichenstein Castle
The sprawling Reichenstein Castle was originally built around 1100, but fell into disrepair in the 16th century. A succession of private owners purchased and renovated the castle starting in the early 1800s.
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Sooneck Castle
Sooneck Castle, likely built in the 11th century, was besieged and destroyed in the 13th century. A new castle was built on the site in the 14th century that was eventually purchased in the 19th century and renovated by the crown prince of Prussia, Frederick William IV, and his brothers. The castle became a possession of the state when aristocratic properties were nationalized in after World War I and is open to the public for tours.
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The town of Bacharach, with 12th-century Stahleck Castle on the hill at left. At the base of the hill to the right of the castle are the ruins of Wernerkapelle (Werner Chapel), built starting in the late 13th-century. To the right is the red-trimmed tower of 12th-century St. Peter’s Church, with Steeger Tor, one of the old city gates, visible directly in front. The tower on the hill in the background is Postenturm, a watchtower that formed part of the town’s 14th-century fortifications.
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This section of the Rhine is quite busy with commercial traffic. Here the barge Oranje Nassau is passing the Desiderio. Note the low free board on the Desiderio.
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The 14th-century toll station Pfalzgrafenstein, with 13th-century Gutenfels Castle visible on the hilltop beyond.
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Schonburg Castle
Expansive Schonburg Castle, built in the 12th-century and now a famous hotel and restaurant.
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One of several decorative railway tunnel openings along our route.
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Lorelei Rock
The famous Lorelie Rock amplifies and echoes sounds and has inspired many German folk tales.
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Rudesheimer Coffee
Enjoying a warming Rudesheimer Coffee during a chilly day on deck as we pass through the Rhine Gorge. The whip-cream-topped beverage is made of coffee mixed with Asbach brandy, a specialty of Rudesheim. On the hill behind us in the distance is Katz (Cat) Castle, originally built in the late 1300s and now a hotel.
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Rheinfels Fortress
Rheinfels Fortress, started in 1245, is the largest castle overlooking the Rhine. Most of the buildings are in ruin, but a section is now a luxury hotel and restaurant.
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We were surprised to see a boat called Seattle on the Rhine.
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Maus Castle
Maus (Mouse) Castle was built in the 1300s to defend against the Count of Katzenelnbogen, who had built nearby Katz Castle. It is one of the two castles along the Rhine Gorge that has never been destroyed.
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Blue Boarding
The AmaMora displaying a blue board with a flashing white light, used by inland waterway vessels in to indicate an intent to pass starboard-to-starboard when normally passing is done port-to-port. This process is called “blue boarding”. Information about the sign’s status is included in the vessel’s AIS transmission.
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The barge Gitte also displaying a blue board and flashing white light to indicate intent to pass on the starboard side.
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Marksburg Castle
Spectacular 12th-century Marksburg Castle is one of the main sites in the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage site and one of only two castles in the area that has never been destroyed.
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Lahneck Castle
Lahneck Castle, built in 1226, became famous in England in the 19th century when teenager Idilia Dubb fell inside the tower where no-one could hear her cries for help. She died days later, leaving a dairy recording her last days.
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Stolzenfels Castle
Imposing Stolzenfels Castle was originally built in the 13th century and extended over the years. It was destroyed by the French in 1689 during the Nine Year’s War, and rebuilt in the 1800s. The castle is now state-owned and open to the public after a major renovation that was completed in 2011.
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Ehrenbreitstein Fortress
Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers, overlooks the town of Koblenz and marks the northern end of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress was built in the 1800s to protect against a French attack.
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After a wonderful day walking through the vineyards at Rudesheim and travelling through the Rhine Gorge, the AmaMora docked at Cologne, Germany. We’ll spend the night there and explore the city tomorrow.
Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at mvdirona.com/maps.


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