|Rudesheim Along the Rhine is known for its gabled homes and shops.|
Whimsy, wine and culture await cruisers along the Rhine and Mosel in Rudesheim and Bernkastel-Kues.
|Bernkastel, on the right bank of the Mosel, merged with the village of Kues, on the left bank, in 1905.|
Cobbled streets and timbered buildings will greet river cruisers alighting from their boats in Rudesheim. Once ashore, their eyes will key in on the Eagle Tower, a 15th-century Gothic-style fortification that became an inn in the 18th century. Note for history buffs: German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stayed there frequently.
Our favorite thing to do in Rudesheim? Meander. Gabled homes and businesses are lovingly decorated with lace curtains, floral window boxes and decorative metallic signs. Visitors stroll freely along the pedestrian-friendly Drosselgasse—essentially a 475-foot merrymaking lane of shops, restaurants, wine pubs, garden taverns and live music.
For traditional German wine and cuisine in Drosselgasse, head for Breuer’s Rudesheimer Schloss. Family-owned, this wine estate restaurant serves up goulash of wild boar and spaetzle along with fresh Wisper River trout. For casual dining with a river view, the Hotel Unter den Linden’s restaurant fits the bill. The house specialty is Lammruecken rosa gebraten, a fried, herb-coated lamb dish with red wine-thyme sauce, green beans and Macaire potatoes.
|The Brömserburg Castle in Rudesheim now houses the Rheingau wine museum.|
Top Tip: One must-see attraction here is Siegfried’s Mechanical Musical Instrument Museum. It’s housed in the 1550s Bromserhof, a magnificent old court with a Gothic chapel and interior frescoes. But the prime treasure is the museum’s quirky collection of 350 music boxes and self-playing instruments. Our Favorites: A tiny snuff box opens to reveal a bird that flaps its wings and sings, while another machine boasts 27 automatic dolls playing instruments. “How did they do that?” is a common refrain heard from visitors in the museum. Note: Check out the 80-key, Oriental-style Gebruder Bruder.
For a lesson in viniculture and history, check out the century-old Bromserburg Castle, which is now a wine museum. Tip: Ask the staff for the historical tree press from 1594.
Asbach, a German brandy, is produced locally. The firm’s visitor center offers a multimedia presentation on its making. While in town, try the hot Rudesheim Coffee concocted from Asbach Uralt wine, sugar, whipped cream and chocolate flakes. Or, savor the Asbach Pralinen, a chocolate-coated, liquor-filled candy. (In the 1920s, ladies didn’t drink alcohol in public, so entrepreneurial Hugo Asbach invented the candy as a respectable and sneaky way to indulge.)
|Bernkastel is well-known for its Medieval Marketplace.|
For panoramic views, take a 10-minute cable car ride to the Niederwald Monument, commemorating the German empire’s founding. And, for something a bit creepy, but popular with visitors, Rudesheim’s Medieval Torture Museum provides insight into the legal system of the Middle Ages and has artifacts on display.
Along the Mosel is Bernkastel-Kues, celebrated as Germany’s town of wine and vines. Bernkastel is on one side of the river, Kues on the other. River cruisers will view prolific vineyards of Riesling grapes on the steep hillsides. But the area’s Riesling isn’t typical: it’s extraordinarily dry yet retains a fine aroma and fruity nuances.
Plan ahead and book a private car for luxury clients. They’ll head to local vineyards for wine tastings and to the Mosel Wine Museum, which is housed in the 15th-century St. Nikolaus Hospital; its underground cellars house more than 160 different bottles. Top Perk: Visitors to the museum can soar in a virtual flight over the vineyards of the Mosel Valley as simulated on a 70-inch screen.
The true highlight of any Bernkastel visit is a stroll through the Medieval Marketplace to view the gabled, 17th-century timber-frame homes. Built in 1416, the Pointed House or Spitzhauschen looks just about ready to topple; it’s wider on its upper floor than at ground level. Other historical diversions include the medieval-era Graach Gate, a Renaissance-style town hall, the massive St. Michael’s church tower and many unusual fountains. Families should take their kids to check out the Barenbrunnen or Bear Fountain.
Active clients will enjoy a climb up to the Castle Landshut ruins. According to the legend, when Trier’s bishop was seriously ill in the castle, no medicine helped. Then a Bernkastel vintner brought a cask from his best vineyard. The bishop was cured and reportedly exclaimed, “This is the real doctor.” Since then, the Mosel vineyard has been exclusively known as the Doctor vineyard. Clients can buy the wine throughout the town.
Bernkastel’s food specialties include pork ribs with sauerkraut and bacon; trout, pike or pike-perch served in a creamy wine sauce; in fall, Federweisser (think alcoholic grape lemonade) is just starting to ferment and is often served with bacon and onion flan. The waterfront Altes Brauhaus restaurant is one convenient option for river cruisers.
For gastronomes, agents may secure a limousine and lunch reservation at Waldhotel Sonnora’s restaurant, 11 miles outside Bernkastel. We recommend the fresh turbot, sweet breads and, in fall, fresh venison. Reservations are tight for this 12-seat restaurant, so call months in advance.