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Cochem and its Castle

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Cochem...

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... and its iconic castle

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Cochem is the best known and most visited wine town in the German Mosel valley, which translates to: the most touristy. There is no lack of gastronomy and souvenir shops. It is a popular destination for river cruises. There was but one cruise ship moored by the river bank but it felt as if the town was full of American “best-agers”.

However, given this reputation I had feared worse. It does not deserve being called a “tourist trap”, although tourism has certainly left its mark. The town has preserved its charms and its authenticity.
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Birthday Boy

Our visit to Cochem was part of Russell’s birthday trip. Coming on the regional train from Saarburg, we planned a stop of three hours. That covered a visit to the castle, a walk of the town and a pause for coffee and cake.

The railway station is located on the northern side of the town. Reaching the centre requires a short walk, which is best done on the river promenade, facing the bridge and the town panorama, and its crown: the castle on the hilltop.

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Market square in the afternoon

We meandered through the streets of the old town, found the small but pretty market square, and finally the ascent to the castle. A steep ascent it was… In summer a small bus is providing transport up and down, but in mid-April it was not yet running. But we wanted to see the castle, so Mommy had to walk while Russell preferred a comfortable seat in the backpack.

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Shall we go up there?

The castle’s unique feature is certainly its beautiful location on the hilltop above the town, surrounded by vineyards, and the panoramic view of the Mosel valley from above. In the meantime the sun had come out, and we enjoyed the views in beautiful light.

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Cochem’s castle, officially named “Reichsburg”, is, in its present shape, a 19th century fantasy. The history of the original castle begins around the year 1000, with extensions through the middle ages – but sadly it was destroyed in the late 17th century during the Palatinate Heritage War. Only a ruin was left.

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In the 1860s Louis Ravené, a wealthy businessman from Berlin, bought the site and the ruin, and had the castle rebuilt on the medieval foundations. His bust is on display in the salon.

Historical drawings and etchings gave an idea of the old castle’s shape and outline. All details, though, are entirely 19th century. The result is a romantic fantasy, certainly not an exact reconstruction of a medieval castle.

The interior of the castle can be visited with guided tours only. Tours start at regular intervals depending on demand, hence the groups are of moderate size. We were six people (I don’t know how it will be in summer season.) Tours are also offered in English; for other languages they have sheets with printed explanations to take along.

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The various rooms inside are fine examples of the eclectic styles of the 19th century, some neo-gothic, some neo-renaissance, a bit of neo-Romanesque and neo-baroque.

The guide will tell you a lot about medieval castles – however, there is nothing pre-1800 in what you see, except a few artworks and pieces of furniture, and it is not “like” authentic medieval either. Hence the explanations should be taken with a grain of salt.

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The castle in bright sunshine

Afterwards I walked down a different street which soon transformed into a stairway. This way took me through a different part of the old town.

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Back down in the square I felt the need for a rest, and since it was mid-afternoon, I did what all Germans would do at that hour: find a café and have Kaffee und Kuchen. I kept an eye on the watch, so I could leave in time for a relaxed walk by the river to the train station.

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Posted by Kathrin_E 13:28 Archived in Germany Tagged mosel rheinland-pfalz

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