CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
Do you have guests coming to town? Sometimes it’s hard to know what to choose an itinerary for our guests. What do they like? What is something they can’t see at home? Might I suggest Cochem Castle? Because, everyone likes castles (I’m pretty sure) and this is the type of castle you just don’t see every day in Kansas (or any other part of the non-European world).
Cochem Castle, or officially Reichsburg Cochem is a beautiful castle with a beautiful setting. The town of Cochem is set along the banks of the Mosel River. Like the Rhine’s little sister, the Mosel was once the main trading route from modern day France and Luxembourg and on to the Rhine. The banks of the river are steep and lined with grapevines and castles. The grapevines prefer the soil, climate and steep terraces of the area. The castles were built along the river so that they could easily collect tolls from the merchant vessels sailing up and down the river.
Cochem Castle is about as picturesque as they come! The town below is full of half-timbered houses and narrow alleys. Boats full of visitors have replaced the merchant ships, but the wine industry is thriving!
We visited on a rainy Saturday in late June. The rain may have kept some of the visitors away, but the castle tour is mostly indoors so turned out to be a great time to come. There is not much parking near the castle (watch for metered parking machines and be sure to leave your ticket in the window). We ended up parking down in the town. Advantage: we found a place that only needed the parking circle and was free. Disadvantage: an up-hill hike to the castle. It wasn’t too bad, the town is cute and since the castle is on the hill it’s easy to find. Alternatively, for a few Euro you can take a shuttle bus from a few points in the town.
Once we got to the castle, we enjoyed the view down on the town and the river and then proceeded to the castle store. That is where you can buy souvenirs as well as tour tickets. That is also the entrance to the terrace restaurant.
The meeting point for the tours is just outside the store. There is a clock telling when the next tour will meet. When we were there, they were meeting every fifteen minutes. Most of the tours are in German, but if you have a large group you can arrange it in English or another language. If you’re really lucky, you might get there at a time when another group has arranged an English tour and you can join in. We weren’t that lucky, but once you get to the first stop on the tour, the guide will ask if there is anyone who would like a translated paper copy of the tour highlights. He had English and about a dozen other languages too. The guide realized that many in our group did use German as their primary language and gave a few highlights in English along the way of his mostly German tour. Good news: You are allowed to take pictures on the tour!
There has been a castle on this site since 1000 AD! Over the course of history, the castle was raided, seized and even (according to the tour translation) pawned. In 1689 French soldiers under the leadership of Louis XIV destroyed the castle and it lay in ruins for the next 200 years. At that point a rich merchant from Berlin, Mr. Louis Ravené rebuilt the castle according to old plans. His family was forced to sell the castle to the Reich, but in 1978 the castle was turned over to the town of Cochem.
The tour route visits ten areas in the castle and lasts about 40 minutes. Each of the rooms is fully furnished and has wonderful pieces of artwork as well. Be on the look out for castle classics like secret doorways leading to other rooms as well as tunnels to the town! Our tour guide even showed the kids in the group a secret door to a treasure chest. (There are German tours for children as well.) The view down 100 meters to the Mosel River from the balcony is impressive.
And what about that sculpture that is seen a few places around the castle? The one that looks like a hairy frog? It’s really a lion with a knight’s helmet and visor. Speaking of knights, there is a room filled with knights’ armor, including a set belonging to a seven-foot tall knight from Austria.
If you are hungry after your tour, you can eat on the terrace restaurant. There is indoor and outdoor seating. The menu has some traditional German food like wurst, schnitzel, soups, and potatoes. There is a large drink menu, featuring Reisling Mosel wine along with other German biers, soft drinks and warm drinks. It has a great view of the town and the river valley.
Different days bring different events to the castle. While we were there we saw two bridal couples having a reception and their pictures taken. There is also a wine fest, a gourmet fest, a Castle Fest (first weekend in August), a Castle Christmas (mid-December). A full list of the events is on the Cochem Castle website.
Another fun event that we didn’t have the chance to try, but would love to someday, is the knights’ meal. These happen on Friday and Saturday evenings with reservations. The event includes a castle tour, the full meal, one tumbler of wine, the tumbler is yours to keep, and entertainment. You can also take this trip back in time with the USO tours and RTT.
If you go with a bus tour or on your own, with guests or by yourselves, for an event or just a “regular” day at a castle, I think you’ll enjoy your trip to Cochem!
Tips For Your Trip:
Reichsburg Cochem GmbH
Open 15 March – 2 November
Terrace Restaurant: 1000-1800
Children (6-17): €3.00
Families (Parents with at least 2 children under 18): €14.50
Other tours and prices on the Cochem Castle website
Adults are €2.50 one-way or €4.00 round trip. Children are half price.