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A castle hotel, a medieval wall and the crisp sweetness of Riesling in the tiny Rhine town of Oberwesel

Riesling vineyards Set amid the castles, half-timbered houses and terraced green vineyards along the Rhine Valley, the town of Oberwesel offers you some fine examples of intact medieval architecture. Once a haven for monasteries — it had nine in the middle ages — the town now boasts several proud churches, including the Leibfrauenkirche with its arched red façade, and the brilliantly whitewashed Martinskirche.

The crown of Oberwesel is Schönburg, a castle that once was a major stronghold, but now is a hotel where you can stay and get panoramic views of the river valley. Beneath its battlements, the town still boasts an impressively complete set of medieval fortifications that you can walk along, including 16 defensive towers.

The Kulturhaus Oberwesel, a museum of Rhine history, lets you see the most complete collection of historical and archaeological treasures in the region.

While in town, we can also arrange a tour of the family-run winery Weingut Lanius-Knab, whose primary focus is Riesling.

Things to see and do in Oberwesel

The Rhine Valley, particularly the area between the cities of Mainz and Koblenz, hearkens to fairy- tale images of the German countryside. With its gently flowing river, small towns with half-timbered and red-roofed houses, green hills and imposing castles, the area can feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Tucked into a bend in the river in the middle of this route is Oberwesel, an unassuming but well-preserved town whose medieval fortifications allow you to walk along the wall all the way around it.

A well-fortified town

You can take a walk around Oberwesel, clambering along the crumbled top of the city walls in some places and seeing the 16 defensive towers that still stand out of the 22 originals. Each of the towers has its own design, and you can still enter some of them. The Zehnerturm, the youngest of the towers, holds an exhibition that you can visit.

Schönberg Castle

Castle Hotel Schoenburg over the Rhine Schönberg Castle, the dominant feature of Oberwesel, rises from a bluff above the Rhine. This stronghold, dating back a millennium, sat in ruins on the hilltop for 200 years after its burning in 1689 by French forces. In the late 19th century, the German-American Rhinelander family bought the castle and restored it.

The castle came back into possession of the town council in 1950, and the same family has been running the property since 1957. The Hüttl family converted much of the grounds into a hotel and restaurant, where you can stay during your trip along the Rhine. While parts of the Castlehotel Schönberg are new, much of the original structure remains and has been lovingly repurposed, giving you a glimpse into its history.

The red church and the white church

Two churches stand out in pictures of Oberwesel, their spires rising high above the roofs of the rest of the town. Martinskirche, or Church of Saint Martin, is a shining white arched structure paired with a forbidding stone tower. The more well-known Liebfrauenkirche, or Church of Our Lady, is a towering, narrow-windowed edifice of red brick.

Riesling wineries

We can arrange a tour of Weingut Lanius-Knab, a family-run winery focused on Riesling. The Rhine is renowned for its semi-sweet German whites, and Oberwesel’s vineyards can be seen along the slopes rising from the riverside.

Best time to visit Oberwesel

The best time to visit is in September, when you can catch a glimpse of the vineyards being harvested and try some Riesling. It’s also a great time to travel the Rhine, with lingering sunny weather and cooler temperatures. October is also still pleasant, and a better time to avoid crowds. August is the worst time for overcrowding.

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