Perched above the
Rheinfels is a huge castle with a colorfully violent history.
Its construction was
begun in 1245 by Count
Diether III of Katzenelbogen in
order to collect new tolls from the
Rhine ship traffic. Many of the Rhine castles were properties of the
the traveler sees today is the partially restored ruins of the great
palace/fortress, which, for about 500 years, was the most powerful
castle on the Rhine. Although its beginnings in the mid-13th century
were fairly modest, it proceeded to go through several expansions and
proved its strength through many battles and sieges.
Finally, during a
war that lasted from 1794 to1796, there was a surrender without a fight
to the French revolutionary troops. Once the French conquered it
bloodlessly, however, they blew the place to ruin.
Much of the stone was
for building elsewhere, but still a lot of the old structure remained.
restoration was begun and has continued to the present. The ancient
fortress houses a hotel and restaurant, offers lots
of opportunity for
hiking and exploring the grounds. Rheinfels is the site of historical
reenactments which can be a lot of fun for all, particularly kids, to
watch. The remodeled hotel section has rooms with spectacular views of
the river below.