Hike into History Along the Moselle
Updated: Mar 20
One of the most compelling aspects of a Europe river cruise is the chance to step into the storied history of the region. There are myriad trails along the Moselle River, in particular, that land you at majestic castles or alongside terraced vineyards, to striking viewpoints and through medieval villages. Here are some of my favorite ways to relive history along the Moselle.
Bernkastel & Landshut Castle
Disembark in postcard-perfect Bernkastel along the Moselle River for a delightful hike up to the ruins of Landshut Castle. First, take time to tour the vibrant Old Town center with its medieval and Renaissance architecture, historic Market Square, the colorful Town Hall and the many half-timbered houses. Don’t miss the Spitzhäuschen (Pointed House), known by its distinctive shape (typical of a Moselle winegrower’s residence); a wide second floor hangs over a thin base, while a tall pointed roof at the pinnacle points to the sky.
Step through the Graacher Tor, the last of the eight gates that allowed entrance into the old town walls, then begin the short hike through grape vines and grassy knolls to the castle ruins, which serve as a scenic lookout over the Moselle River. The 13th-century castle you see today was built on top of an ancient Roman fortress that dates back to the 4th or 5th century. The castle stood until the late 17th century when a fire transformed it into the current ruins. Extensive renovation work is currently undergoing. There is a restaurant within the castle walls if you need to refuel after your day of exploration.
While the entire Moselsteig Trail is 226 miles long, you can certainly tackle just a couple of miles and be more than impressed. Twenty-four stages in all follow the Moselle from the point where France, Germany and Luxembourg meet, to Koblenz, where the Moselle and Rhine rivers meet. If it’s vineyard views and impressive castles you’re after, the Moselsteig delivers.
Wander into side valleys and picnic beside quiet streams. And, most importantly, stop in villages and towns along the way to taste one of the gems of Germany’s oldest wine region, the superb Riesling. Certified as one of the country’s Quality Walking Trails, the route is well-signposted and maintained.
Of the numerous picturesque villages along the Moselle, one of the favorites is imposing Reichsburg Castle, known for its colorful gingerbread architecture lining the cobblestone streets of Old Town. I suggest a guided hike to the castle, which is believed to be about one thousand years old. It was burned nearly to the ground by French troops in 1689 and it wasn’t until 1868 that a wealthy Berlinite bought the castle and rebuilt it in its current Neo-Gothic style.
Step back in time to a different era altogether - the Cold War - at the Bundesbank Bunker. This former secret bunker, built to withstand a nuclear war, was one of Germany’s best-kept secrets for decades, storing 15 billion DM during the Cold War.
If you’re a history buff hoping to combine stories of the past with upscale river cruising, reach out by booking a consultation through my Services page. I'd love to chat!