The Romantic Cities in Rhineland-Palatinate


Cities characterised by imperial cathedrals, Roman remains, gemstones, museums, wine bars and restaurants, which are all well worth a visit at any time of year, stand proudly amidst the vineyards, cliffs, forests and rivers of Rhineland-­Palatinate.

Idar-Oberstein, Koblenz, Mainz, Speyer, Trier and Worms are collectively known as the Romantic Cities. Together, they hold the allure of a past dominated by emperors, world-famous wines and genuine hospitality.

‘The Emperors and the Pillars of their Power. From Charlemagne to Frederick Barbarossa’, a major state exhibition hosted at the Landesmuseum Mainz in the state’s capital in the imperial year of 2020, displays rare exhibits of immeasurable value. They date back to a time when the Rhine region was Europe’s political, cultural and economic centre for more than five centuries.

German history was written in the cathedrals of Mainz, Speyer and Trier. Six kings were crowned in Mainz Cathedral, which is based on St Peter’s in Rome and has dominated the city on the Rhine’s skyline throughout time. Surrounded by the vineyards of Rhine-Hesse, which happens to be the largest wine-growing region in Germany, Mainz is the ‘Wine Capital of Germany’ and the perfect place to enjoy Rhineland­-Palatinate wines in modern and quaint wine bars alike.

Enjoying wine outside Mainz Cathedral, Rhine-Hesse

Enjoying wine on Liebfrauenplatz, the easternmost square outside Mainz Cathedral, Rhine-Hesse

It is very difficult to ignore the Romans in Trier, Germany’s oldest city. The city on the Moselle, which was also known as ‘Roma Secunda’ (second Rome), was founded by Emperor Augustus in 16 BC. Trier’s Roman remains, including the main gate to the city – the Porta Nigra, the amphitheatre and the Imperial Baths, have been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Most of Trier Cathedral’s walls too date from the time of the Romans. Today Trier is a youthful and vibrant city whose streets are lined with restaurants and shops.

View of the Porta Nigra in Trier, Moselle

View of the Porta Nigra in Trier, Moselle

The Nibelung Festival outside Worms Cathedral in Worms, Rhine-Hesse

The Nibelung Festival outside Worms Cathedral in Worms, Rhine-Hesse

Legend has it that Hagen sank the treasure of the Nibelungs in the section of the Rhine that flows past Worms, in Rhine-Hesse. The heroic saga of Siegfried and Kriemhild is brought to life in the theatrical productions of the Nibelung Festival, held against the magnificent backdrop of the venerable St Peter’s Cathedral. In 1521, Martin Luther was summoned to appear before the Emperor at the Diet of Worms to reject his Protestant teachings, which he refused to do. He was consequently outlawed. A national exhibition and festival will be held in 2021, on the occasion of the anniversary of this event.

Speyer in the Palatinate proudly calls itself an imperial city. Speyer Cathedral, dedicated to St Mary and St Stephen, is the largest preserved Romanesque church in Europe and the final resting place of eight German emperors and kings. The new viewing platform in the south tower, which is around 60 metres high and can be reached by climbing 304 steps, affords fantastic views of Speyer, the Anterior Palatinate and the neighbouring Baden region.

View of Speyer Cathedral in the historic centre of Speyer, Palatinate

View of Speyer Cathedral in the historic centre of Speyer, Palatinate

View of the Deutsches Eck at the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

View of the Deutsches Eck at the confluence of the Rhine and the Moselle in Koblenz, Romantic Rhine

Koblenz lies at the confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers, marked by the Deutsches Eck and a monument to German Emperor William I. Its greatest landmark is the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress: visitors can board a cable car to glide across the Rhine up to the fortress, a very popular attraction due to its many exhibitions, restaurants and impressive views of the city as well as of the Rhine and the Moselle.

Idar-Oberstein is all aglitter: the town on the Nahe river is home to the German Gemstone Museum and a fascinating gemstone experience, and the undisputed gemstone metropolis of Germany. Here, gemstone cutters and jewellery designers can be observed working in their various workshops, in the tradition of the agate grinders who once emigrated to Brazil and returned with agate as well as the recipe for succulent spit-roasted meat, which is cooked over an open fire and remains the national dish of the Nahe region to this day.

All the Romantic Cities are both the starting points and destinations for the most beautiful hiking trails and cycling routes in Rhineland­-Palatinate. Circular routes passing through the region’s vineyards and rolling hills, and along its rivers combine the cultural wealth of a city trip with an active holiday in a unique natural landscape.

Hand with aquamarines, Nahe

Precious aquamarines in the hands of a gemstone cutter, Nahe

More suggestions for trips to the Romantic Cities:


The Romantic Cities in Rhineland-­Palatinate

The picturesque historic centres of Mainz, Koblenz, Trier, Worms, Speyer and Idar-Oberstein are ideal for shopping. The cultural offerings of the Romantic Cities include imposing cathedrals, Roman…

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