Cochem is a charming fairy-tale town in the valley of Moselle in Germany. There are many beautiful places in this region but Cochem is definitely my favorite one and I must say that it's one of the most inspiring places that I have visited in Germany so far.
It is situated on both sides of the riverbank with lovely promenade, many cafes and restaurants, half-timbered houses, scurrying streets, medieval gates and an impressive castle on top of a hill. The medieval castle Reichsburg Cochem (also known as the Imperial castle Cochem) is the medieval jewel of the valley.
When we came to Cochem it was raining. This wasn't surprising as recently it rains wherever we go. We were in hurry to get to the last guided tour so we started to walk up the hill without seeing the town first. It was steep and challenging. I would expect a shuttle bus for those who are not able to walk up such a hill but as far as I know this kind of service is not provided.
We walked, walked and walked without seeing the castle until we considered the option that we took a wrong path. Suddenly, the castle appeared and a stone fell from my heart as I wouldn't want to walk down the hill and up another hill again.
Let's go and check it out!
We are finally here! There is another road behind the main gate leading to the castle.
We stopped for a moment to appreciate the views of the valley. The castle is built above vine-clad slopes of the Moselle Valley and the surrounding landscape is magical.
It was still raining and the clouds were hanging very low. At one point, the castle was hidden behind the clouds too.
The other side of the riverbank is mainly used as residential area.
Let's purchase the tickets (EUR 6 per person) and join the guided tour.
Tours are in German, English or Dutch and are quite frequent (every 15 minutes). We both understand all three languages and didn't care which tour would be the next one. We came a little bit earlier than expected and didn't want to wait for our preferred tour outside as it was raining, so we decided to join the next available one which was starting in a few minutes. At the end it was the German tour which was totally fine.
Our tour guide picked us up at the gate and led us through the front yard to the courtyard where she told us about the history of the castle.
The Reichsburg castle was built in the 11th century and the first mention dates back to* 1051*. The castle that we see today is not the castle that was built almost 1000 years ago. The original castle was destroyed by the troops of King Louis XIV in 1689. It was left in ruins for 180 years. Then it was bought by Louis Ravené who rebuilt the castle in 1868.
He was a businessman and wanted to build this castle as a summer residence for his family. However, he didn't want to rebuilt it in original Romanesque style and his architect created a Neo-Gothic castle that better fulfilled needs of this rich family.
When the castle was originally built, its function was naturally given because it is located high above the river Moselle. It was used to collect tolls from passing ships. The owner of the castle could see all the ships that entered the valley.
Over the centuries it changed the owner several times until it was bought by Ravené. During the Nazi years in the 20th century, the taxes rose enormously and the family couldn't pay them anymore, so they were forced to sell it to the Prussian Ministry of Justice. As many other historical buildings, it was turned to a school which was run by the Nazi government.
In 1978, the city ofCochem bought the castle and it's the proud owner of the Reichsburg until now.
Let's go inside!
There are more than 50 rooms in the castle but just a few of them are open to the public. It's actually 7 rooms if I'm not mistaken.
The rooms are quite small and dark. They are decorated with wood and painted walls. Dining room has a beautiful wooden cupboard with original Chinese porcelain.
Ravené liked symmetry and this can be visible in the rooms too. He built the large stove opposite the cupboard with Chinese porcelain so that the room looks symmetric. This stove has no function and it's just a room decoration.
This room was used by ladies to read, knit, embroider or draw. There are beautiful Delft blue tiles on the stove and it took one year to renovate the wall decoration. Every single detail was done without using any templates. The renovators placed dots first and then connected them to create patterns which were then painted.
There were two hidden doors in this room. One is on the left side opposite the stove and the other one is on the same wall but closer to the window. The one that we can see on the picture can be opened by pushing the small button that is on the floor next to it. It looks like a small dot.
One door led to the secret tunnel which could be used to escape the castle or to get unnoticed to the castle and the other one led to the bedrooms. There are many stories and legends about these two hidden tunnels.
These jars are originally from the monastery nearby. In the medieval times monks used to drink wine diluted with water and these jars served as their daily dose of this drink. They must have been drunk all the time.
The owner of the castle liked to hold a glass of wine too and it happened that he was quite tipsy.
This is when this key lock really came in handy. If you can't put the key in the keyhole this helps you very well. As soon as you hit the edge it will lead your hand to the keyhole and you can successfully get your key in.
The largest and most important room in the castle is the Knight’s Hall. The most interesting thing in this room was the statue of the break-dancing guy on the table 😊 I need to look up the history of break-dance as it might have started here! 😊 Just kidding...
There were also a few suits of armour in the castle. One of them (not this one) was so big that a Hulk would easily fit in it. It is however not probable that it was made for a real person as doctors say that it would be impossible for a man to carry so much weight.
This is the most valuable piece of furniture in the castle. It dates back to the 16th century.
There is a big terrace from where you can see the valley again. Some people say that the castle is not worth of their visit because it was rebuilt in the 19th century. I say that it's definitely worth it! If not for the interior then for these views.
This is where our tour ends and we say goodbye to our tour guide.
The last view of the castle - you can see that the main tower is in the clouds.
This is a small detail that we noticed on the way back. It looks like small smiling snakes on the railing but apparently these are dragons.
I hope that you have enjoyed our tour!
Thank you for reading!