Castles are always in style – but in 1870s Germany, they were positively en vogue.

Like King Ludwig II’s famed Neuchwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Reichsburg Castle (aka Cochem Castle or Schloss Reichsburg) was purchased by a visionary dreamer who wished to recreate the area’s previous grandeur, build upon ancient ruins and create a stunning new retreat for himself and his family.

Overlooking the scenic Mosel River and equally picturesque town of Cochem, the Reichsburg Castle has a long storied history. Its original construction dates back roughly to 1000-1100 AD. Built by the Palatinate Count Ezzo, the castle is first mentioned in a 1051 document (although questions remain whether this document might be falsified). In any case, as a prominent medieval castle, it had no shortage of political espionage and romantic intrigue – with stories of murders and mistresses and mayhem. One of its most iconic legends is affectionately known as ‘The Battle of the Barrel’ after citizens of Cochem let loose piles of empty wine barrels, effectively sending attackers running.

Another beloved legend which is celebrated each year on ‘Knipp Monday’ commemorates another battle, where a castle servant overheard armed strangers discussing an imminent attack on the castle on the first Monday after ‘white Sunday’ (the first Sunday after Easter). En route to meet his lady, the servant returned back to the castle and helped thwart the attack. Ever since, including today, residents take to the meadow the servant first overheard the attackers and enjoy a hearty picnic.

The castle’s colourful history continued to play out until the armies of France’s King Louis XIV, aka the Sun King, invaded in 1689. They occupied the castle, burned it and obliterated it down to mere rubble.

And so it remained until Berlin businessman Louis Ravené happened upon it and purchased it in hopes of creating a summer residence. However, rather than restore the castle to its former Romanesque glory, the wealthy entrepreneur rebuilt it in a Neo-gothic style (complete with a few gargoyles even!). However, a few of the original elements were kept – such as the four-story Octagonal Tower and the Hexenturm (aka Witches Tower). Castle lore tells of the tower being used to try women for witchcraft – by throwing them out of the window.

The interior of the castle also has a variety of styles. Ernst Ewald designed the intricate painted ceiling design and the walls both inside and outside. Local artisans and craftsmen contributed too. The effect is both an homage to its long history and romance – it is a popular wedding destination!

Nestled among the banks of the lush Moselle River – in between steep vineyards, high elevations, wine villages and medieval streets, the town of Cochem has much to offer itself. Including stunning panoramic views from the castle above. Cobbled-stone streets, riverfront promenades, Cochem is one of Germany’s most picturesque cities!

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