MOSELLE VALLEY

Moselle (Mosel in German) is the name of the river that flows between Trier and Koblenz, in a beautiful valley. Shaped by man for over 2000 years, the region where the Moselle flows has been cultivated by the Romans. The terraced vineyards rise up to the sky, producing some of the best rieslings.

The splendid art-nouveau architecture of the Traben-Trarbach and the Bernkastel-Kues with its beautiful square are two of spectacular places on the Moselle.

Narrower than its neighbour Rhine, the German section of Moselle rises in France and traverses Luxembourg, flowing for 195 km from Trier to Koblenz on a winding course. It covers enchanting scenery, like the brightly hued half-timbered medieval villages, hilltop castles, Jugendstil (art nouveau) villas and ancient wine warehouses, around every hairpin bend.

Interacting with the locals, sampling some exceptional wines and exploring the wineries are excellent ways to understand the German culture and way of life of people in this wine
country.

Some of the popular wineries include Weingut, Weinprobe, Wein Probieren, Weinverkauf
and Wein zu Verkaufen. There are several wine festivals celebrated from April to mid-
November in the towns and villages.

The 545 km long Moselle river is the longest tributary of Rhine and forms a natural frontier between Germany and Luxemburg. The Upper Moselle (Obermosel) lies between Perl and Trier, the Middle Moselle (Mittelmosel) between Trier and Bullay and the Lower Moselle (Untermosel) between Bullay and Koblenz.

Navigating innumerable bends after flowing through the wide Trier basin, the river passes through the Rhenish Uplands to enter the Rhine valley at Koblenz. Between Bernkastel-Kues and Cochem, the landscape is ever changing and there are many old castles perched up on the slopes around the valley. There are many quintessentially small, lovely villages and towns all along the river valley.

The area is famous for its extraordinarily wonderful landscapes, charming wine villages, blue lakes in the Eifel region and enchanting towns like Trier, Koblenz or Cochem.

The steep vineyards, the river and medieval streets present a charming picture in the main tourist town Cochem. The riverfront promenade, life-size chess to play, the chairlift (Sesselbahn) upto a hilltop and the WeingutRademacher wine tasting, all enhance your experience in the town.

Like most Moselle towns, the town has grown under the shadow of the castle, which looks majestic from far below. It is a faithful reconstruction done in the 19th century of an earlier dilapidated structure.

You can spend your time cycling by the riverside, or walking or hiking through the vineyards and explore the castles and ruins around the Moselle valley.

One of the most wonderful river landscapes in the world is between the castle ruins of Metternich in Beilstein, Reichsburg in Cochem and Coraidelstein in Klotten. Boat tours are the best way to truly appreciate the audacity of nature at its best.

Moselle valley is indeed one of Germany and Europe’s most romantic regions.

How to reach Moselle Valley

The valley can be reached and navigated easily. About 1.5 hours from the city of Koblenz is the closest major airport in Frankfurt. Cologne, Bonn and Luxembourgh are the other major cities.

The closest airports to Cochem are:

• Frankfurt Hahn, (25 km away)
• Cologne/Bonn, (90km away)
• Frankfurt, (110km away)

Moselle is well connected by train, the route of which traces the left bank of the river Moselle. Cochem’s train station is less than 500 meters from the center, at its eastern end. To reach those villages along the Moselle valley that have no train connection, buses can be taken.

By Boat

You can take a boat and hop on and off from village to village, starting from Koblenz to Trier the reverse.

When to Go

The peak seasons in Moselle are in the months July to August (summer) and September to October (autumn). From November to Easter, the valley is quiet and some hotels and local business are even closed.

Where to Stay

German countryside offers a serene ambience for a slow life. The available accommodations will be mostly at boutique hotels, guest houses and B&Bs. The word ‘Zimmer’ means ‘room’. Guest houses often sport a simple unassuming look.

The less touristy villages of Moselle, like Reil and Zell, are more charming and welcoming. Germans are familiar with English that is good enough for practical communication, and nkjkare more than happy to help.

What to see

Cochem

Cochem is one Moselle valley’s most attractive towns. Its highlights include the old castle, the walking tour around the old part of the town and St. Martin’s church that was constructed in the 15th century and rebuilt in 1736.

In its beautiful Marktplatz stands the old Town Hall built in 1739, and is where you will find numerous historic heritage homes too.

ReichsburgCochem is a hilltop imperial castle, the largest in Moselle valley and undoubtedly one of its greatest draws.

It stood tall since it was built in 1020 until the French destroyed it in 1689. The 19th century saw much of it restored in Neo-Gothic architectural style. There are several fun themed tours and guided tours available including a themed meal package offered by on-site restaurants that are available for kids.

Koblenz: Where the Moselle Meets the Rhine

Koblenz, straddling river Rhine and river Moselle, is a beautiful old city. It is the best place to begin exploring Moselle valley with it as a base for day trips or as the first stop in your journey up the rivers. The German corner or Deutsches Eck, is the point that separates the rivers Rhine and Moselle. This superbly located site offers spectacular views of the city and the rivers, and is home to the 37 metre tall monument to Emperor Wilhelm I. Alte Burg, a 12th century castle on the banks of Moselle now houses the city’s municipal archives and library, which is worth paying a visit.

Elegant Eltz Castle

Wierschem, 36 km southwest of Koblenz is where the Eltz castle (Burg Eltz) is, accessible from either Trier or Koblenz. Burg Eltz smartly evaded wars with clever diplomacy and marriage alliances, and hence was never attacked, thus retaining most of its original 12th century charm. It has remained in the Eltz family for eight centuries, which still owns it. The 800 year old furnishings, gold and silver artefacts, ancient weaponry and a wide range of medieval architecture can be seen in this castle.
English language tours are available too. There are two restaurants and a shop on-site.

The Eltz forest around it is a nature reserve criss-crossed by several walking trails and is home to rare flora and fauna.

Bernkastel-Kues

Bernkastel-Kues has much to offer for its visitors looking to explore this quaint lovely town. Its Marktplatz is the best place to begin your exploration, which is on the river’s right bank. There is an early 17th century Town Hall here, along with many charming shops and cafes, besides the old pillory where criminals were punished.

The early Gothic St. Michael’s Church stands on the banks of Moselle. It is the area’s only unaltered 14th century edifice. Its rich décor, furnishings and the spectacular altar depicting the 17th century devastations due to plague, are a few must-see. Across the bridge over Moselle to Kues, there are other old buildings like the St. Nicholas’ hospital that was founded by the cardinal and philosopher Nicolaus Cusanus (whose heart is buried in the Gothic chapel) in the 15th century. His interesting collection of astronomical instruments and apparatus can be found in the library. The collection includes the world’s oldest celestial sphere.

Trier: A City of Roman Influences

When the Romans arrived 2000 years ago, there was an ancient settlement already in Trier, which is proved by archaeological evidences, which dated as far back as 16000 years. The well-preserved Roman attractions are worth exploring, the famous of which is the fortified gate of Porta Nigra, built in the 2nd century, which has been declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

AulaPalatina (Konstantin Basilika) is yet another Roman site not to be missed. It was built during the time of Emperor Constantine and was fully restored later. It features Constantine’s throne room, the largest hall of which now hosts frequent concerts and events. The Roman imperial baths, the largest in Europe, have many surviving original features like the large hot water bath and huge boilers required to heat it. RheinischesLandesmuseum, the archeological museum is famed for its Roman mosaics and Roman gold coins, which is counted as the world’s largest hoard.

Village Life: Alken, Kobern-Gondorf, and Beilstein

View of Thurant castle and Alken village

Many quaint villages line up the river banks in Moselle valley and Alken is one of the prettiest. It is a small community with a many old houses and remains of medieval walls that stood to protect them once. Built in the 1200s and altered much in later years, Burg Thurant (Thurant Castle) stands high above the village.

Kobern-Gondorf is yet another quaint village, which is home to the early Gothic chapel of St. Matthias, since 1235. There are four castles of which two are from 13th century. One of these, Wasserschloss castle is very unique in that it has a road running through it.

Ehrenburg is one of the most spectacular ruined castle in Moselle.

Beilstein, upstream from Cochem, is the quaintest of all Moselle towns. Picturesque and serene, the town presents the best ambience for recuperating from the madding crowds and hurried urban lifestyle. It has no food shops, no ATMs and just one bus stop, one mailbox and 30 guesthouses and eateries run by about a couple of hundred residents. Nicknamed the ‘sleeping beauty of the Moselle’, the town was accessible only by boat until the 1900s. Its charm lies in its grapevines, cobbled walkways, uniquely styled door knockers and the resplendent views of the Moselle river. During peak tourist season, the town is in danger of being overrun by day trippers, but come in early in the morning or late afternoons and you will have the town to yourself.

The Churches of Treis-Karden

Treis-Karden is picturesque twin communities in the Rhine valley, famous for its bridge over the Moselle. The Treis side has a late Gothic church and the Karden is known for the 12th century triple towered church of St. Castor, with a Romanesque cloister and chapter house and a museum.
Hatzenport is an interesting town too, with an impressive late Gothic parish church with 15th century stained glass windows. Munstermaifeld, five kilometres northwest of Hatzenport has a 10th century Stiftskirche of saints Martin and Severus.

Zell and the Zeller Hamm

To get an excellent photo of the 12 km long loop– Zeller Hamm – of the Moselle river, climb up the tall hill, Marienburg.

Zell, a well known tourist destination at the south end of Zeller Hamm and is one of those Moselle valley towns that has a picturesque view of old town walls, a St. Peter’s church built in 1792, and an old castle built for the Electors of Trier, in 1542.

Traben-Trarbach and the Middle Moselle Museum

Yet another quaint town halfway along the valley, straddling the Moselle river, is Traben-Trarbach, known for its half-timbered old buildings and aristocratic houses. The 18th century Baroque Bocking House is a well-known example, which was once visited by Goethe and Prussian kings. It is now home to the Middle Moselle Museum. The museum’s display includes much of the building’s old furnishings and décor that have been preserved, and spreads across 20 rooms. Paintings from local artists like Ernst Willen Spies, archaeological artifacts from the Roman and Franconian eras and a model of Grevenburg castle are some of the exhibits.

Piesport and Neumagen-Dhron: The Archaeological Loop

Moselle was very important to the Roman Empire like its sister river, Rhine. Evidence of the Roman rule can be seen throughout the valley. Piesport is the best example of the Roman heritage. It is across the river, from Bernkastel-Kues, where there is the largest surviving Roman grape press. The beautiful painted ceilings of the Rococo church of St. Michael is a must-see too.

Neumagen-Dhron is four kilometres away, which displays a cast of the famous carving of a Roman ship that was excavated here, the original of which is exhibited at the Landesmuseum in Trier. From Trier or Koblenz, the towns of Piesport and Neumagen can be reached easily, and are listed in tours of the area.

River boat cruises

Though the Rhine river gets most of the attention for boat cruises, the Moselle too is famous for its boat cruises.

The left tributary of Rhine, Moselle joins it at Koblenz and stretches into France. The river boat tours are done in the afternoon or overnight. The starting and ending points are in Koblenz, Cochem and Trier.

Hiking and biking trails

Hikers, runners and walkers find an outdoor playground in the banks of the winding path of the Moselle river on the hills. There are several trails that would suit all skill levels. The endless rows of vineyards along the riverbanks make a good walking path. The quiet forests atop the valley offer a serene hike.

As the vineyards are steeper in some sections, it would be a great challenge for even professional hikers.

It remains a favourite destination for the cyclists for its scenic path along the river. Every guesthouse produces its own wine, allowing you wine tasting during every stay, which proves to be a clear bonus and an added attraction.

Summer harvest festivals

Besides cars and beers, Germans are known for their parties too. Moselle celebrates the summer harvest in late summer with street festivals. The house-turned-restaurants of many local winemakers, proudly serve their homemade wines and signature dishes, an excellent opportunity to taste regional wines and authentic homemade German cuisine.

Moselle vines

The winding, fertile vineyards in the Moselle valley were developed for the Roman legions. It produces good, light, flavourful white wines and a dry wine similar to champagne called cremant.

River Moselle serves as a border between Luxembourg and Germany, with vineyards lining the valley. The Du Vin hiking / biking trail runs along the Luxembourg side of the river from Schengenin in the south and to Wasserbillig in the north. The variety of grapes produced here is due to the unique microclimate of every single village along this route.

Sweet white wines

The main occupation of the Moselle valley is wine making, with the Weinguters (winemakers) being in the business for generations. The highest quality wine grape called the Riesling grape is produced in this region.

The steep incline of the vineyards allow direct sunlight to reach each individual vine. Since the soil is predominantly slate stone, the heat is reflected and retained, thus creating a unique growing environment. The steep slopes make the vineyard cultivation very labour intensive though.
Most of the wine cellars are located in the people’s homes. Hence, the fun lies in knocking at random doors asking to see the cellar to taste the wine. The wine culture is uniquely enjoyable.

The residents are proud winemakers of the region and they love to interact with visitors and show off their quality of wine and their wine making skills. The equipment and techniques used by some smaller winemakers have been in use for decades if not more.

Delicious German beer

Kolsch Beer served in a typical tray

Any beer lover would have heard of Bitburger, ranked 3rd among Germany’s top sellers. It is produced in the city Bitburg, a few kilometres west of river Moselle. Most establishments in this region sell this beer and the sign ‘Bitteein Bit’ cannot be missed,.

Moselle valley is close to Cologne and hence beer lovers will have a variety of Kolsch available. The Fruh, Gaffel and ReissdorfKolsch are good.

Spaghettieis (Spaghetti Ice)

This is ice cream pressed in the shape of spaghetti and called Spaghettieis (spaghetti ice). It is then topped with strawberry or chocolate sauce, whipped cream and shaved white chocolate that would resemble grated cheese.

Spaghettieis is to Germans what gelato is to Italians. There is at least one ice-cream parlour in every village in Moselle region which serves the regions famous Spaghettieis.

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