As the fourth largest city in Germany and the largest city on the Rhine River, Cologne is regarded as the historic, cultural and economic capital of the Rhineland. It is highly regarded for its trade fairs, cathedral, perfume, and Koelsch beer. It was also once a significant part of the Roman Empire, and the remains of many Roman buildings and town walls are still visible today. There is a range of Roman artefacts on display in the Roemisches Germanisches Museum, which is well worth a visit.
Cologne is also home to the French Gothic style Kolner Dom Cathedral, for which construction began in 1248 but remained unfinished for 600 years. The structure - which can still be visited today - is made up of two 157 metre-high spires, buttresses, pillars and arches – which collectively support the central nave. The remains of the kings who followed the star to Bethlehem are believed to have been contained within the south tower.
The Austrian city of Linz sits on the banks of the Danube River, 100 miles west of Vienna. It is home to a number of historic buildings and landmarks including: the old castle; St. Martin’s Church; the Baroque Town Hall; the 13th century main square, which features a monument to the Holy Trinity; and the 17th century cathedral. More recently, Linz has developed into an important cultural centre, with a number of schools of art music; several museums; art galleries; libraries; opera houses; and theatres. Additionally, Linz provides a point of access from which to visit the city of Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart.
The Moselle River offers a small and intimate route through some of Germany’s finest castles, fortresses, terraced vineyards, and villages. It flows 341 miles from the French border, near Trier, to Koblenz, where it joins the River Rhine. As well as France and Germany, it provides an opportunity to cruise through Luxembourg. In the former Roman city of Trier, it is joined by the two smaller rivers of the Saar and Ruwer, and from here, it follows a winding path before arriving in Koblenz. The vineyards that line the banks of this river are renowned around the world for producing some of the finest wines in the world.
Bernkastel-Kues, situated north-east of Trier, on the Moselle River, is made up of two former towns – each of which retains a distinctive feel and character. Above the town sits the ruins of Landshut Castle, built in the 9th century and offers fantastic views of the Moselle and surrounding area. Bernkastel is home to a renowned market and is filled with romantic half-timbered houses and beautifully designed gables. This part of the town is also home to the 14th century Pfarrkirche St Michael, which has a tower and was historically part of the fortification wall. Kues is home to a hospice, which was founded by Nikolaus Cusanus and contains a chapel, library, courtyard and cloisters. Hidden within the hospice are a series of vaulted cellars, where you can sample regional sparkling Moselle wines.
Located at the foot of the Taunus Mountains and at the heart of the Rhine River is the town of Rudesheim. Being in the Rhine Gorge, Rudesheim is also part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a historic winemaking town. Not only does the wine make this town worth visiting, but the Old Town itself and the picturesque Rheingau landscape and the romantic Rhine River itself.
Flowing through Germany, France, The Netherlands and the Alps of Switzerland is the greatest river of Europe, both culturally and historically: the Rhine. Running for 865 miles, the Rhine is navigable for River Cruise boats all the way from Switzerland to the North Sea. With steep rock cliffs and breath-taking vistas, the middle Rhine is the most spectacular and romantic reach of all. Most known for its castles, the middle Rhine is peppered with them, from the Ehrenfels Castle Ruins to the mighty Schönburg Castle.
Located along the banks of the Rhine River close to the border with Germany, is the capital city and largest city of the Grand Est region, Strasbourg. The historic Grande Île city centre of Strasbourg has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is immersed is Franco-German culture.
Located on the right bank of the Rhine, opposite the French town of Neuf-Brisach, sits the south-western German town of Breisach. This town is home to the 11th century Romanesque-Gothic Cathedral of St Stephan – which features a Renaissance pulpit, silver shrine, a high altar made from carved wood, and a wonderful terrace which offers spectacular views over the Rhine into France. Elsewhere in Breisach, you will find a museum on municipal history – which is home to an impressive collection of artefacts dating back to the Stone Age.
The city of Basel, in northern Switzerland, sits along the Rhine at the mouths of the Birs and Wiese rivers. It is divided into two parts – Kleinbasel (industrial section to the north) and Grossbasel (the older commercial and cultural centre). The latter is dominated by the Romanesque and Gothic-style Munster, which was Basel’s protestant cathedral until 1528 and houses a monumental slab to Erasmus, who is entombed there. Other notable buildings include the late Gothic-Rathaus (Town Hall), the Church of St. Martin (Basel’s oldest religious foundation), and the 14th-century Franciscan church – which now houses a historical museum.
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