Jk, this wasn’t mountain climbing but WOW it was steep (for me) Sean has talked to others who didn’t find it to be that steep, but I think they have longer legs than I do. There’s a train you can take to the top, the Drachenfelsbanh, but we wanted the exercise, and boy did we get it. Another cloudy but nice day, on Saturday October 25th we headed to Königswinter to see the Schloss Drachenburg castle and Drachenfels Ruins, or Dragon’s Rock. The castle itself, Schloss Drachenburg, is interesting, but I’d seen online that the views of the Rhine were beautiful and it did NOT disappoint. The fall foliage combined with views of the towns surrounding Köningswinter and Bonn made for absolutely stunning views – views that really can’t be done justice in these photos.
This castle has a very storied past. Schloss Drachenburg, was built in the early 19th century by Baron Stephan von Sarter, a banker who never actually lived in his extravagant home. He made his fortune by speculating on the stock exchange and, interestingly helping to finance the Suez Canal. Baron von Sarter died in 1902, still a bachelor, without having a set will, but one of his nephews bought the castle from the estate. After his death, over the years the castle become a Summer Resort, was planned to be an amusement park (never happened due to financing), was home to a Christian Boy’s Boarding School, during WWII was taken over as a Nazi elite school, and at the end of the War was occupied by U.S. troops then turned into a refugee camp. In the 50’s it was a training center for the Railway, was vacant and slated for demolition in the 60’s, in the 70’s was revitalized by artists, and in the 80’s was named a historical monument. A lot of stuff happened there! Some pictures of the interior are below:
The towers, garden landscaping, gold trimmed everything, and supbar stained glass made this castle a mix of awesome and amusing. There was a wedding going on and I saw everyone but the bride – I kept being on the lookout for her, but she never appeared. We did however see the Rolls Royce that was their getaway car!
Climbing higher you’ll find the ruins of Drachenfels – Dragon’s Rock – which has an interesting history and gets its name from a few legends about Dragons. According to Wikipedia: The ruined castle, on the summit of the hill, was built between 1138 and 1167 by Archbishop Arnold I of Cologne. It was originally intended for the protection of the Cologne region from any assault from the south. It consisted of a bergfried with a court, chapel and living quarters for servants. The castle was slighted in 1634, during the Thirty Years’ War, by the Protestant Swedes and never rebuilt.
And in regards to the dragon tales, among those include that Siegfried – the hero of the Nibelungenlied – killed the dragon Fafnir, who lived in a cave in the hill, then bathed in its blood to become invulnerable. Another legend tells of prisoners being sacrificed to a dragon. One of these was a Christian virgin, who, in her fear, held up a little cross. In fear of this holy symbol, the dragon jumped into the Rhine and was never heard from again. A third: the dragon one day attacked a boat laden with gunpowder, causing an explosion which destroyed the ship and killed the dragon. I am sure they are all very close to the truth. 😉 (Source: wikipedia!)
The sun was shining through the clouds and the mountains were misty in the distance, and the view was breathtaking. There’s a restaurant and cafe up there, overpriced, but would love to enjoy a sunset up there in the spring maybe! Or a meteor shower. Imagine that!!
Look at these views! Amazing. It was so misty in the distance and made it even more dramatic.
Here we are at the summit where the ruins themselves are. Impressive how high they are up here!
Phew, made it to the top. On the way back down we stopped for a snack at a little touristy Pomme and Bier hut, we were hungry and wanted a rest!
Once we got to the bottom of the hill and back to the little town area we wandered around a bit – this tiny town was very touristy and didn’t have that much too it- seemed like it was very much catering to Rhine river cruise tourists. We passed a lot of second hand clothing shops, ice cream, and little pubs. Lots of dragon shops too ha.
We decided on a late big lunch, Sean had scoped out a great restaurant, but we got there and it was a bit our out of our budget, so we found another place that had a great view of the river and schnitzel! The schnitzel wasn’t the best we’ve had here, but we did quite enjoy the sun as it finally came out, and resting our feet before heading back to Bonn on the train.
Great day for sure!
Finally, I’ll leave you with Lord Byron’s poem about Drachenfels from when he visited long ago:
The castled crag of Drachenfels
Frowns o’er the wide and winding Rhine.
Whose breast of waters broadly swells
Between the banks which bear the vine,
And hills all rich with blossomed trees,
And fields which promise corn and wine,
And scattered cities crowning these,
Whose far white walls along them shine,
Have strewed a scene, which I should see
With double joy wert thou with me!