Castle romance and railway nostalgia

A trip to the Reichsburg castle in Cochem and Ediger-Eller

Castle romance and railway nostalgia go hand in hand along the Mosel. What better reason to hop on a train and travel through the Mosel Valley to Cochem. You’ll see the impressive Reichsburg standing high above the old town from a far, looking like something straight out of a fairytale. And it has in fact been used for filming fairytales such as “Die Sterntaler”, The Star Coins.

A short footpath leads from Cochem railway station to the old town and from there along steep, winding lanes up to the castle, which tops the hill majestically.

It owes its present-day appearance to the wealthy, art-loving Berlin entrepreneur Louis Ravené, who bought the castle ruins in 1868 as a summer residence for his family, and had them restored in Neo-Gothic style, incorporating surviving historic elements. It’s a fairytale estate that captivates with a wealth of charming details and romantic spots, not to mention the stunning views of the Mosel Valley. A visit is therefore a must!

But what does this romantic castle have to do with trains?

Ravené ran a very successful wholesale ironware company and profited considerably from the fact that railway tracks were being laid en masse in Germany. An extensive railway network was in the process of being built for both civilian and military purposes. The construction of a railway line from Berlin to Metz took him to the Mosel, where he discovered the ruins of the Reichsburg. It comes as no surprise then, that the unveiling of the castle and the opening of the Kaiser Wilhelm Tunnel were both celebrated in 1877 by means of a festive banquet in the castle hall with the presence of distinguished guests.

After seeing the Reichsburg, it’s back to the station and onwards by regional train through the Kaiser Wilhelm Tunnel. The slow train is barely out of the dark before it stops at Ediger-Eller station. From here you have two options for spending the rest of your day.

Blick von den Steillagen des Bremmer Calmont auf das Moseltal.

If you feel like getting active, take the narrow path on the right up to the steepest vineyard in Europe, the Bremmer Calmont. The Calmont via ferrata stretches from Eller to Bremm at an altitude of 200 to 300 metres above the Mosel and presents some alpine challenges along the way. You should plan on 3 hours for this tour.

Blick von der Straße auf eine Reihe historischer Fachwerkhäuser

If you prefer a more leisurely amble, turn left to visit the town’s historic centre; wander past former monastery estates and aristocratic residences, take in the stunning half-timbered houses and visit the church in Ediger, which houses a special relief depiction of Christ standing in a wine press. There are various opportunities for wine tastings and refreshment stops along the way. A wide riverbank with an avenue of walnut trees still gives an impression of times before the railway was built.

The Mosel was the main transport route in the region until the end of the 19th century. Road networks didn’t yet exist along the banks and bridges were rare, so the fastest way to travel was by boat. Locals used flat-bottomed barges for everyday commutes. Such barges would take people to the other side of the river to their vineyards and fields, and carried carts, livestock and horses. They transported iron, pottery, charcoal, bark, wine and regional produce to markets, and carried hay, grain, grapes, firewood and oak shoots, the leaves of which were stripped, dried and used to stuff mattresses.

Even now, you can still catch a boat for the return journey from Ediger-Eller to Cochem. This of course takes much longer than the short route through the Kaiser Wilhelm Tunnel, but you get to see and experience more, including a trip through the locks at Bruttig-Fankel.

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