Middle Rhine

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Map of the Middle Rhine
View of Katz Castle with the Loreley in the background
Beginning of the breakthrough valley between Bingen am Rhein and Assmanshausen, the Nahe estuary in the background
View from the Hindenburghöhe to the Rhine near Bad Salzig
End of the breakthrough valley at
Rolandswerth and Rhöndorf , in the background the Siebengebirge

The Middle Rhine , of the 130 kilometer long river section of the Rhine between the mouth of the Nahe at Bingen and that of victory across from Bonn , is one of the most important cultural landscapes of Germany . The river valley, in which around 450,000 people live, is bordered by the Hunsrück and Eifel in the west, by the Taunus , Westerwald and Siebengebirge in the east, by the Upper Rhine Plain in the south and by the Cologne Bay and theLower Rhine in the north.

The entire length of the Middle Rhine forms a breakthrough valley through the Rhenish Slate Mountains . That is why it has always been one of the most important traffic routes between northern and southern Germany . Since Roman times , there has also been a constant exchange between the Mediterranean region and Northern Europe via the Middle Rhine Valley. Located in the heart of Europe, sometimes border, sometimes bridge of cultures, it exemplarily reflects the history of the West . Characteristic of its man-made landscape are the vineyards , but also numerous hilltop castles , other architectural monuments and the winding, old towns and villages on the narrow bank.

Cultural wealth and natural beauty have made the Middle Rhine Valley a tourist destination and the epitome of Rhine romanticism since the 19th century . Their most famous expression is the poem Die Loreley by Heinrich Heine . The tourism industry therefore markets the southern part of the Middle Rhine from Bingen and Rüdesheim to Koblenz as the "Loreley Valley". As a cultural landscape of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley , this section of the river was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002 .


The Andernach Geyser is the highest cold water geyser in the world.
The mouth of the Moselle at the Deutsches Eck in Koblenz


The geographical name Middle Rhine refers to the narrow antecedent breakthrough valley of the Rhine through the Rhenish Slate Mountains between Bingen am Rhein and Rüdesheim am Rhein in the south and Bonn- Bad Godesberg and Bonn- Oberkassel in the north, i.e. to the classic Rhine landscape. The Middle Rhine Valley runs almost its entire length, to Rolandswerth and Rheinbreitbach in the area of ​​the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate , then on that of North Rhine-Westphalia . Geographically, the Middle Rhine Valley also includes the right bank of the Rhine between Rüdesheim and Lorch , which belongs to Hesse and the Rheingau wine-growing region . The Neuwied Basin separates the upper and lower Middle Rhine. On the Namedyer Werth is the highest cold water geyser in the world with a height of 50 to 60 m . The Namedyer Geyser was reactivated on July 7, 2006 and has been used for tourism since then.


Larger tributaries on this section of the river are Nahe , Mosel and Ahr on the left bank of the Rhine, Lahn , Wied and Sieg on the right bank of the Rhine .


The most important cities on the left bank are Bingen am Rhein , Bacharach , Oberwesel , Sankt Goar , Boppard and Koblenz on the upper and Andernach , Bad Breisig , Sinzig , Remagen and Bonn on the lower Middle Rhine. On the right bank of the river are Rüdesheim am Rhein , Assmannshausen , Lorch , Kaub , Sankt Goarshausen , Braubach and Lahnstein on the upper and Vallendar , Bendorf , Neuwied , Bad Hönningen , Linz on the Rhine , Unkel , Bad Honnef and Königswinter on the lower Middle Rhine.


Important connections with high traffic volume through the river valley are on the one hand the Rhine itself as a federal waterway , on the other hand the federal road 9 and the left Rhine stretch of the railway on the west and the federal road 42 and the right Rhine stretch of the railway on the east bank of the river. The federal motorways A61 and A3 run parallel to the river on the left and right of the Rhine over the heights of the Rhenish Slate Mountains. At the level of Koblenz, the A48 forms a cross connection between the A61 and A3.

Castles, fortresses and palaces

Stahleck Castle near Bacharach
Rheinfels Castle near St. Goar
Marksburg near Braubach
Stolzenfels Castle near Koblenz

The most important castles and fortresses on the Rhine include the Marksburg, the only undestroyed hilltop castle in the region, Pfalzgrafenstein Castle , which lies on a rocky island in the middle of the river, and Rheinfels Castle , which has been expanded into a fortress over time. Stolzenfels Castle, on the other hand, stands like no other for the romanticism of the Rhine , which was not only limited to the reception of existing buildings, but also encouraged restoration and new buildings. Also in Koblenz is the Electoral Palace , which was the last residence of the Elector of Trier until it was conquered by French revolutionary troops, and the Ehrenbreitstein fortress , built by the Prussians in the 19th century . It was the strongest of its kind on the Rhine and part of the Koblenz Fortress .

Middle Rhine castles and fortresses (in the direction of the river):

Left of the Rhine Right bank of the Rhine


Prehistory and early history

The terraces of the Middle Rhine Valley had been inhabited since the earlier Iron Age. This is evidenced by the burial mounds around the city forest of Boppard , in the Breyer forest and the ring walls on the Dommelberg near Koblenz and on the Hünenberg near Sankt Goarshausen . On the western border of the Middle Rhine area there are also traces of Celtic settlement, with the grave pillars of Pfalzfeld and the prince's grave of Waldalgesheim . In the 4th century BC The area was already under the influence of the Mediterranean civilizations. The north-south connection between the Nahe estuary and the Moselle estuary reached back to pre-Roman times. The route, which was later expanded by the Romans, largely coincides with the route of today's Autobahn 61 .

Roman times

The Romans settled the area of ​​the Middle Rhine from the middle of the 1st century BC. An important factor was the expansion of the trunk road ( Roman Rhine Valley Road ) between the provincial capitals Mainz and Cologne along the left bank of the Rhine, both on the plateaus (Rheinböllen to the north) and in the valley on the left bank of the Rhine (today's federal road 9). Remnants of significant road systems (rail tracks) can be found e.g. B. near today's castle Stahleck Bacharach. The cities of Bingen ( Bingium ) and Koblenz ( Confluentes ) became the sites of early imperial forts, and Oberwesel (Vosolvia) housed a Roman road station . From their forts, the garrisons protected agriculture and mineral resources and also kept the Teutonic tribes of the Tenkerer , Usipeter , Menapier and Eburonen at a distance. The agricultural settlements in the hinterland took care of the people in the cities and military camps.

The Romans used the Rhine for shipping, and as early as the 1st century AD, permanent Rhine and Moselle bridges were built in Koblenz . The Limes border wall, which was built from 83–85 AD, had to be abandoned around 260 AD and the border moved back to the Rhine. The right bank of the Rhine gained greater importance for the Roman army, as evidenced by the Burgus near Niederlahnstein . In the course of securing the imperial borders under the Roman emperors Constantine and Valentinian , forts were built in Koblenz (Confluentes) and Boppard ( Bodobrica ) and fortified with strong walls and round towers, remains of which have been preserved.

In the 5th century, the Alemanni and Franks forced the Romans to withdraw completely. The tribes took over the Roman cities, and the Franks in particular founded new settlements in the countryside, mostly independent of the old Roman farms. In these places, you can still recognize them today by names that end in "-heim", where agriculture and livestock were farmed.

At the end of the 5th century, the Merovingian king Clovis founded the Frankish Empire. Although the Romansh population continued to decline, the people spoke a Franco-Romansh dialect and the administrative language remained Latin . Boppard grave inscriptions, u. a. in St. Severus and the Carmelite Church , from the 4th / 5th centuries. Up to the 8th century document the survival of a Romanesque population group alongside the Frankish immigrants.

middle Ages

The Roman settlements, especially the fort places in the Rhine Valley, were taken over by the Frankish kings as crown and fiscal property. The area from Bingen down the Rhine with Bacharach , Oberwesel , St. Goar , Boppard to Koblenz and beyond to Sinzig and Remagen was almost completely in royal possession until the Carolingian era . Only in the 8th century did the sale of individual parts of the empire begin, which dragged on until the beginning of the 14th century. Beneficiaries of the donations were u. a. the abbots of Prüm and Trier , St. Maximin and the archbishops of Cologne , Trier, Mainz and Magdeburg . The counts of Katzenelnbogen were as stewards of the Prüm Abbey own territory to St. Goar with castle Rheinfels build that after their extinction in 1479 Landgrave of Hesse inherited.

The division of the empire of Charlemagne by his grandchildren, which was prepared in St. Kastor in Koblenz in 842 , let the left bank of the Rhine between Bacharach and Koblenz fall to the Middle Kingdom. It was not until 925 that Lotharingia was finally united with the East Franconian German Empire.

Until the Staufer era , the Rhine remained a heartland of royal power, this is where the “Vis maxima regni” ( Otto von Freising ) lay . In Koblenz in 1138 the Staufer Konrad III. elected German king.

The Middle Rhine Valley near Oberwesel

Late Middle Ages

In the late Middle Ages, the region on the Middle Rhine was characterized by its territorial fragmentation. In addition to the spiritual electors of Cologne, Mainz and Trier, the Count Palatine on the Middle Rhine around Bacharach and Kaub had also gained influence since Hermann von Stahleck in 1142 . As a sign of mutual competition ("Katz" and "Maus"), but also as customs posts on the central trade route of the Rhine, most of the 40 or so castles in the area between Bingen and Koblenz were built.

Partly influenced by facilities in France, Italy and the Crusader states, these are special examples of medieval defense architecture. The Counts of Katzenelnbogen in particular stood out as builders ( Marksburg , Rheinfels Castle , Reichenberg , Neukatzenelnbogen ). The outstanding sovereign ruler in the 14th century was elector and archbishop Balduin of Trier from the House of Luxembourg . His brother King Henry VII , Count of Luxembourg and from 1308 German king had to give him the imperial cities of Boppard and Oberwesel pledged two of around 20 cities and places that in the 13th and 14th centuries on the Rhine between Bingen and Koblenz were established and had city rights or similar freedoms. The city rights did not always lead to an actual urban development. In almost all of these places, however, more or less extensive remains of the city fortifications have been preserved to this day.

For a long time, Boppard and Oberwesel resisted integration into a modern territorial state. In Boppard there were fights for city freedom in 1327 and 1497. The tombstone of the knight Sifrit von Schwalbach, who fell in 1497, in the popular type of the "broad-gauge iron eater" in the Carmelite Church in Boppard is a testimony to these struggles for communal freedoms, which were revived for the last time in 1525 in the Peasants' War . The town castle in Boppard , which was built by Balduin am Rhein in 1340, is a monument to the suppression of urban independence efforts.

Since the areas of the four Rhenish electors were close to each other on the Middle Rhine, the cities on the Rhine were the venue for numerous imperial and electoral days, royal elections and princely weddings that were important in terms of imperial history . The Kurverein von Rhense was of particularly far-reaching importance in 1338.

Above all, Boppard was frequently visited by German kings and emperors. The rulers then resided with their entourage in the royal court at the gates of the city.

In Bacharach , a founding member of the Rhenish Association of Cities from 1254/55 , King Ludwig IV of Bavaria temporarily resided . The painted Volto Santo in St. Peter's Church there bears testimony to Ludwig's admiration for the Lucchese archetype and documents the exchange between Imperial Italy and the Middle Rhine.

Modern times

Landgrave Philipp the Magnanimous of Hesse brought the doctrine of the Reformation to the Katzenelnbogischen areas in 1527. In 1545 the Reformation reached the territories of the Electoral Palatinate through Elector Friederich II .

The struggle between Catholics and Protestants and the political tensions in the German Empire culminated in the Thirty Years' War in 1618 , in which France, Spain and Sweden intervened. When peace was made in 1648, the country was economically ruined, and the population was more than halved due to fighting, disease and famine.

In the 17th century, the Middle Rhine increasingly became the scene of warlike and peaceful conflicts between Germany and France . After the devastation of the Thirty Years' War, the Palatinate War of Succession in 1688/92 brought about the first destruction of the castles and part of the city fortifications. The reconstruction in the 18th century still characterizes large parts of the Koblenz city center in the style of early classicism.

As a result of the Revolutionary Wars , the left bank of the Rhine became part of the French Republic or the Empire. From 1801 the Prefect Lezay-Marnesia, who resided in Koblenz, had the road on the left bank of the Rhine, which fell into disrepair after Roman times and was no longer usable, expanded. Lezay-Marnesia also promoted fruit growing on the Middle Rhine (e.g. cherry cultivation in Bad Salzig based on the Normandy model ), which partly replaced viticulture, which had declined significantly at the end of the 18th century.

19th century

The Ehrenbreitstein in Koblenz

The French placed the country on the Middle Rhine under the prefect of the Rhin-et-Moselle department in Koblenz. The population was soon taken with the new government, which brought the end of aristocratic rule, the abolition of feudal taxes, liberal justice and other advantages.

Blücher's crossing of the Rhine at Kaub on New Year's Day 1814 marked the end of the French period and the beginning of Prussian rule on the Middle Rhine with Napoleon's final defeat . At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Prussia was given the " Watch on the Rhine " on the left bank. The right side remained Nassau .

The supremacy of Prussia was secured by the construction of the Koblenz fortress from 1817. The achievements of the French administration were largely abolished in the Rhine Province (since 1830), the old corporate state (nobility, cities, peasants) re-established. The nobility took over again the political leadership, the educated middle class remained politically almost without influence. After the Austro-Prussian War (1866), Prussia also annexed the Nassau areas on the right bank of the Rhine.

The steamship , especially the steam towing barge at the beginning of the 1840s, brought a significant intensification of traffic on the Middle Rhine. The Rhine Shipping Act of March 1831 liberated shipping on the Rhine from many obstacles such as customs duties, stacking rights, etc., which stimulated traffic.

A strongly meandering Rhine that constantly changes the fairway could no longer cope with this upswing. In addition, hydraulic engineering was more advanced abroad and through the reception and further theoretical penetration by German hydraulic engineers such as Eytelwein (1765–1849), Hagen or Wiebeking, so that a turn away from the maintenance of the existing through national cultural work to one of the whole river with its Hydraulic engineering work that encompasses tributaries as a unit seemed necessary. This led to the creation of the Rheinstrom building administration in 1851, with Eduard Nobiling as Rheinstrom building director . By straightening the Rhine , the length of the Middle Rhine was shortened by 40 km.

Neither steam shipping (from around 1830) nor the construction of the railway lines (from 1857) could decisively promote industrialization in the narrow Rhine Valley. Around 1900 there was still a small town-village agricultural and commercial structure dominated by viticulture.

20th century

After the end of the First World War in November 1918, the left bank of the Rhine and a 50 km wide strip on the right bank were declared a “demilitarized zone”. First Americans, from 1923 the French administered the area.

In the Rhineland, the transition from monarchy to republic went almost unnoticed. The plan to establish a " Rhenish Republic " (1923) failed. The French withdrew their troops in 1929.

After Hitler was appointed Chancellor on January 30, 1933, enthusiasm in the Middle Rhine was great. Hitler was made an honorary citizen in numerous places. Jewish and politically unpopular officials were replaced by party officials. The Jews, who had played an important role in the small-town trade, were robbed and driven out, most of them murdered.

On March 19, 1945, the Allied forces ended the fighting of the Second World War on the Middle Rhine. Then the French took over the administration of the area in their zone of occupation.

At the end of 1946, the federal state of Hesse was created , and the state of Rhineland-Palatinate followed six months later . Although areas that historically rarely belonged together were combined in the new federal states, a feeling of togetherness quickly emerged. However, the desire for a classification that took more account of history never completely fell silent.

World Heritage "Upper Middle Rhine Valley"

Logo of the UNESCO World Heritage "Upper Middle Rhine Valley Cultural Landscape"
The Loreley
Assmannshausen from the Damianskopf

The "Upper Middle Rhine Valley Cultural Landscape" is the Rhine Valley from Bingen and Rüdesheim to Koblenz . On 27 June 2002 was this unique cultural landscape on the List of World Heritage of UNESCO added.

Criteria of a cultural landscape

A prerequisite is a landscape area that is closed in terms of the criteria mentioned below, which has a certain uniqueness and has been given a special design by people. In the Upper Middle Rhine Valley , this is the case in the Rhine breakthrough through the Rhenish Slate Mountains . The valley with its steep rocky slopes forced its use in the form of terraces that shaped the valley over the centuries. It was particularly characterized by the viticulture on terraces, slate extraction and coppice forest management, which has been documented since the 8th century . Agriculture was only possible on the plateaus. The multitude of over 40 castles, which were built along just 65 kilometers of river, is also unique. The Upper Middle Rhine Valley is the epitome of the romantic Rhine landscape and also a classic transport landscape (important shipping route, two federal highways and two railway lines).

Traffic planning

Already in connection with the award of the world cultural heritage status, UNESCO stated that the noise generated by traffic (of which the railway lines play a significant part) was a problem. However, concrete measures were neither recommended nor required.

The new fixed Rhine crossing over the Middle Rhine Bridge near St. Goar and Sankt Goarshausen , targeted by the Rhineland-Palatinate state government, is to be coordinated with UNESCO. On July 29, 2010, UNESCO announced that a master plan should be presented before the further planning of a bridge in order to demonstrate the need for and compatibility with the World Heritage status. In further consultations, UNESCO will then decide whether a planned bridge is compatible with the world heritage. Whether problems similar to those in the Dresden Elbe Valley can be avoided will only become apparent in further discussions. Other statements by the state government that UNESCO had already approved after talks in Brasilia were premature. According to the UNESCO Commission, a decision cannot be expected until summer 2011 at the earliest.

The Rhine cable car built for the 2011 Federal Horticultural Show in Koblenz also endangered the World Heritage status. For this reason, the organizers of the garden show agreed with UNESCO to design the cable car structures as inconspicuously as possible and to dismantle the cable car after three years. UNESCO decided on June 19, 2013 at the 37th session of the World Heritage Committee in Phnom Penh to allow the cable car to operate until 2026. The technically longest possible service life ends this year.

Castle building

The castles in the Middle Rhine Valley were created with a few exceptions from the 12th to the first half of the 14th century. They were mostly built on the central terraces that were created when the valley was formed. In the 10th and 11th centuries, castle building was a privilege of the empire (king, high nobility). Buildings before this time were mostly made of wood and earth.

From the 12th century onwards, royalty began to weaken. The power of the princes grew (from 1220 and 1231 important rights ( regalia ) were transferred to the clergy ( Confoederatio cum principibus ecclesiasticis ) and secular ( Statutum in favorem principum ) imperial princes, from 1273 electoral kingship, 1356 final formation of territorial states). This was also the time when most of the castles were built. Four out of seven electors owned areas in the Middle Rhine Valley. The political map showed a patchwork of patches as these areas were not contiguous. First the castles were built to secure the area. From the late 12th century onwards, the princes discovered customs as a source of income, so that now castles were built for customs security. Castles in the city ring were normally built as a fortress against the city dwellers striving for freedom.

Firearms appeared in the region at the end of the 14th century . By the 15th century at the latest, structural reactions were necessary that only wealthy castle owners could afford. Many castles lost their strategic importance as early as the late Middle Ages due to the use of firearms. Most of the time they start to deteriorate more slowly or they are given up.

Already in the Thirty Years War there was numerous destruction by troops passing through. The final destruction of almost all castles was done by the troops of Louis XIV in the Palatinate War of Succession in 1689 (with the exception of the hill fortes only Ehrenbreitstein , Marksburg and Rheinfels fortresses ).

With the advent of the romanticism of the Rhine, many castles were rebuilt between 1815 and the end of the 19th century.


Bushy vineyard terraces

The Middle Rhine wine-growing region is largely identical to the geographic region, one of the “ specific growing areas ” for quality wine stipulated by the German Wine Act . The Hessian wine towns between Lorchhausen and Rüdesheim , however, belong to the Rheingau wine-growing region .

Viticulture was brought about by the Romans. However, it did not develop southwards from the mouth of the Moselle until the Middle Ages . This development took place in four phases from the 11th to the end of the 14th century.

The new technique of terrace viticulture was essential for the development. Areas of 25 to 30 degrees and more were built on. The cultivation was favored by the climate. The Rhine and the slate and greywacke weathered soils function as heat stores that prevent large fluctuations in temperature. In addition, there is good cold air drainage on the steep slopes. This is of particular benefit to the late ripening Riesling, which accounts for around 75% of the area under cultivation. The terrace viticulture was much more fragmented than the current situation shows, which only arose after land consolidation in the 1960s (see picture of bushy vineyard terraces - small terraces covered with bushes on the left and above the large slopes, recognizable by the many light, transverse lines). Unfortunately, with the old dry stone walls, a biotope for small organisms was also lost. Some of the old terraces are still under cultivation in the Middle Rhine Valley (also recognizable by the old ties between the shoots - one post per floor).

In the Middle Ages, wine was the only folk drink that was not germinated and storable, as beer was mostly bad and more expensive, coffee and tea were still unknown. A regional specialty that was traded far north was the production of fire wine in the Viertälergebiet around Bacharach (today again produced in the Posthof Bacharach). It was one of the most important trading goods in the Middle Ages, favored by the Rhine as the most important waterway and existing Roman roads. Therefore it was interesting for landlords (increase in value). The improvement of the legal, social and economic situation due to the need for more and more skilled workers, led to new leases and an upswing. In the late Middle Ages, the majority of the population was dependent on viticulture. After the dissolution of many manors, it was split into many small parcels .

This branch of industry was booming until the end of the 16th century, then the Thirty Years' War led to recession and decline. Better beer prices as well as tea and coffee also reduced the proceeds. From 1815 onwards, due to the fact that it belonged to Prussia, there was again a great boom on the left bank of the Rhine (quasi monopoly ). From 1839 there was strong competition from the German customs union . This was the beginning of the transformation from full-time to part-time winemaker. In some cases there was additional profit from the romantic Rhine (Gutsausschank) and the emerging sparkling wine industry. From 1870 there was a new crisis because of the railroad (improved transport), industrialization, cheaper and better competition from abroad and the emergence of vine pests from America via France ( powdery mildew , phylloxera , downy mildew and hayworms and sourworms ). The deeper cause of the decline was the changed socio-economic conditions. Until the 19th century there was hardly any other way of earning a living. Then, because of the low profit, there was great migration to the emerging industry. The left side was more affected only after the Second World War (until then there was hardly any industry and more tourism). Despite the land consolidation carried out in 92% of the areas in the 1960s, there was a further decline due to the lack of profit.

58% of the vineyard areas that existed around 1900 are now completely and irretrievably fallow. Another 16% have a fallow share of 40 to 80%. About 480 hectares are left - with a tendency to decline to about 380 hectares actually planted in 2006. The vineyards become bushy and are finally brought back from the forest. This is a big problem here. If you want to preserve the character of the landscape, great efforts are required to find new uses for the terraces, or at least to keep them open. The land consolidation in the Oelsberg near Oberwesel is a successful example of preserving viticulture without extensive earth movements in the landscape . By means of transverse terracing of the site and the installation of a drip irrigation system, former small plots could be kept under cultivation. In Bacharach, too, a gentle redesign to facilitate cultivation of the vineyards is being planned. Individual locations that shape the landscape, such as on the Roßstein across from Oberwesel, under Stahleck Bacharach Castle or around Gutenfels Kaub Castle, deserve continued cultivation in order to maintain the charm of the cultural landscape. Many castles now have abandoned and heavily bushed vineyards at their foot. The much sought-after postcard idyll supports a recovery , because the light and finely structured green and rich yellow in autumn of the small-parceled vine terraces stand out visually well against the green of the forest. Despite land consolidation, mechanization is limited, as the areas are usually too steep to be driven on with wheel-driven tractors or grape harvesters. Therefore, profitability is only given for businesses that sell bottled wine, which usually earn additional income by renting out holiday apartments or by catering (typical wine and ostrich taverns).


Large parts of the valley were originally forested. Alluvial forests of white willow grew in the river valley, oak and hornbeam on the slopes - and beech trees on better soils. The first economic use was made by the Romans, who also cleared arable and pasture areas. With the Carolingian expansion of the country (peak in the 13th century), there was an increase in settlement and population density. During this period, the vineyards were opened up and the use of the land on the terraces as arable and pasture areas began. At the end of the 14th century there was about 50% less forest. Now the economic importance was recognized and the use of the forest became vital for the region.

Types of forest use from the Middle Ages to the 19th century

  • The main use was the extraction of wood as construction and fuel as well as for the manufacture of equipment.
  • The forest pasture provided food for the cattle through grasses and herbs in the high forest. When driving pigs in, acorns and beechnuts were used for fattening in autumn. Green leaves were also fed and used as stable litter. One popular method was "snowing" trees. The trees were "put on the stick" by cutting them down to the rootstock. This was only possible with tree species such as oak and hornbeam, as they have the ability to rejuvenate through new shoots, which brought abundant deciduous offspring. In this way a “ coppice ” was created.
  • In the forest-field alternation, the areas were used as arable land. After clearing by fire, an interim use as cultivation area (e.g. rye) followed for one to three years, followed by fallow land for 10 to 20 years. Some of the areas were also used as pasture during the fallow period.
  • An important source of income was the extraction of oak bark (Lohe). The trees were cut to about man's height and the bark peeled off with a spoon . These areas could also be used as arable land.
  • Other forms of use were charcoal (charcoal for ore smelting), ash distillery ( potash for the glass industry), soap-making (as a bleaching agent) and the extraction of willow branches.

Today the valley is dominated by overgrown coppice forests. In many oaks this can be recognized by the knobbly growths above the rootstock. The last "drive" took place after the Second World War by the French as a reparation payment. Since the trees have become too big in the meantime, there is danger here because the barren slopes can no longer carry the load.


Photo montage of the Middle Rhine Bridge
Signal point at a special danger point near the Loreley
Rhine in flames from the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress in Koblenz

Young British nobles on the Grand Tour to Italy discovered the Middle Rhine in the 18th century. With the German Romanticism , the Middle Rhine became a destination of longing in Germany as well. The tourism triggered by the romanticism of the Rhine , promoted by the start of regular steamboat services by the Cologne-Düsseldorf company in 1827 and the construction of the railroad in the 1840s to 1870s, brought the Middle Rhine a new economic boom that continued well into the 20th century stopped. The only paddle wheel ship still on the Rhine today is the Goethe , which operates between Koblenz and Rüdesheim.

The interest of German and foreign tourists in the Middle Rhine was never lost, but it declined noticeably from the 1980s onwards. In order to make the Middle Rhine more attractive again in the 21st century, two new long-distance hiking trails were opened, the Rheinsteig on the right bank of the Rhine and the Rheinburgenweg on both sides of the Rhine, which enable a particularly intensive experience of the cultural landscape. Cyclists can ride the entire Middle Rhine Valley between Bingen and Bonn on the Rhine Cycle Path . While the path on the left bank of the Rhine leads continuously along the river bank away from the car road, there are still some smaller gaps on the right bank of the Rhine that have to be bridged by the road.


The Rhine is one of the busiest waterways in the world. With the breakthrough into the Rhenish Slate Mountains, the Middle Rhine Valley forms a special bottleneck due to its tight curves and shallows . In order to keep the risk to navigation on the Rhine as low as possible, there is the Wahrschau on the Middle Rhine . With the help of traffic lights, the ships are guided through dangerous places.

The largest ports along the Middle Rhine are in Andernach , Bendorf , Koblenz and Lahnstein.



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    • H. 12: Stella Junker-Mielke: "... I was weary with bliss." Gardens and parks. 2003, ISBN 3-935690-20-7 .
    • H. 13.1: Michael Huyer: On the history of the Jews on the Middle Rhine. Vol. 13.1: Synagogues and other places of worship. 2006, ISBN 3-935690-44-4 .
    • H. 13.2: Michael Huyer: On the history of the Jews on the Middle Rhine. Vol. 13.2: Jewish cemeteries. 2006, ISBN 3-935690-45-2 .
    • H. 14: Bruno P. Kremer, Thomas Merz: Nature and landscape on the Middle Rhine. 2008, ISBN 978-3-935690-67-6 .
  • Otto Volk: Economy and society on the Middle Rhine from the 12th to the 16th century. Historical commission for Nassau  : Wiesbaden 1998. ISBN 978-3-930221-03-5 .
  • Franz-Josef Heyen: The Middle Rhine in the Middle Ages . Mittelrhein-Verlag, Koblenz 1988, ISBN 3-925180-03-6 .
  • Christian Schüler-Beigang (Ed.): The Rhine Valley from Bingen and Rüdesheim to Koblenz - A European cultural landscape. The central work (documentation for the UNESCO application). von Zabern, Mainz 2002, ISBN 3-8053-2753-6 .
  • Guido Saure: "A very special place". Culture and landscape guide through the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. (Upper Middle Rhine Valley Unesco World Heritage). Koblenz 2003, ISBN 3-9808958-0-7 .
  • Erdmann Gormsen: The Middle Rhine Valley - A changing cultural landscape. Leinpfad, Ingelheim 2003, ISBN 3-9808383-2-3 .
  • UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley. Topographic leisure map 1: 25,000. Jointly ed. from the State Office for Surveying and Geographic Base Information Rhineland-Palatinate and the Hessian State Office for Soil Management and Geoinformation. 2nd Edition. State Office for Surveying and Basic Geographic Information Rhineland-Palatinate, Koblenz 2005, ISBN 3-89637-363-3 , ISBN 3-89637-364-1 , ISBN 3-89637-365-X (set of three maps: Koblenz - Loreley - Rüdesheim / Bingen).
  • Martin Stankowski: Left + Right, the other Rhine travel guide, from Cologne Cathedral to the Loreley. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2005, ISBN 3-462-03573-8 .
  • Angela Pfotenhauer, Elmar Lixenfeld: Upper Middle Rhine Valley - World Heritage - From Bingen and Rüdesheim to Koblenz. German Foundation for Monument Protection, Bonn 2006. ISBN 978-3936942767
  • Michael Imhof (among others): The churches in the Mitterheintal. Guide to the buildings of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Middle Rhine. Imhof, Petersberg 2008, ISBN 978-3-935590-64-8 .
  • Bruno P. Kremer: The Lower Middle Rhine Valley. River landscape between the Neuwied Basin and the Lower Rhine Bay. (= Rhenish landscapes, issue 59). Rhenish Association for Monument Preservation and Landscape Protection, Cologne 2009, ISBN 978-3-86526-038-3 .
  • Franz X. Bogner: The Middle Rhine Valley from the air. Theiss-Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-8062-2328-6 .
  • Horst-Johannes Tümmers: The Rhine. A European river and its history . 2., revised. and actual Ed., CH Beck, Munich 1999, ISBN 978-3-406-44823-2 .
  • Michael Prince of Prussia (ed.): The Prussians on the Rhine - castles, palaces, Rheinromantik , Cologne 2011.
  • Monika Barwinska: Middle Rhine - excursions to the most beautiful palaces and castles. Droste Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-7700-1478-1 .
  • Journey through: The Rhine - The Middle Rhine from Mainz to Cologne. Pictures by Brigitte Merz and Erich Spiegelhalter. Texts by Manfred Böckling. Würzburg 2014. ISBN 978-3-8003-4212-9
  • M. Losse: Castles and palaces on the Middle Rhine , Rheinbach 2015.
  • Klaus Göhring: The Rhine Valley from the air . A spectacular journey from Koblenz to Cologne . Rheinbach 2015, ISBN 9783955401467
  • (aro) [author]: Revolution with watercolors: Two hundred years of Rhine romanticism , in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Frankfurt am Main, issue of August 19, 2017, No. 192, under features on p. 11 (with a large color illustration of a painting by the English Painter William Turner), [Colorful Rhine landscape with the "Palatinate in the Rhine"]
  • Andreas Bruchhäuser : Middle Rhine . A picturesque journey from the Mouse Tower to Rolandsbogen. 2017, Nünnerich-Asmus Verlag Mainz. ISBN 978-3-945751-68-8

See also

Portal: Middle Rhine  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the Middle Rhine

Web links

Commons : Middle Rhine  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Middle Rhine  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Middle Rhine Valley  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. LU Scholl: The Mainz Rhine Shipping Act of March 31, 1831. In: Deutsche Schiffahrt 1/1981, pp. 21–24.
  2. Trembling before Unesco: The Middle Rhine Valley doesn't want to experience Dresden. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. July 7, 2008.
  3. Rhein-Seilbahn can stay until 2026. In: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung . 19th June 2013.
  4. UNESCO documentation of the State Office for the Preservation of Monuments (2002)
  5. Information on "steep vineyards" and on the subject of "fire wine" at www.mittelrheintal.de or to be requested from the Mittelrhein visitor center in Bacharach
  6. 135 kilometers through the world cultural heritage. ( Memento from July 22, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) In: Wiesbadener Kurier. August 30, 2009.