Cycling to Oppenheim

The Rhine Cycle Trail is a real classic among German long-distance river cycle paths and its Rhine-Hesse section runs between Worms and Mainz. Riding along next to the mighty Rhine is a very special experience. Within touching distance of the meadows in the old Rhine region, the route leads through famous towns and villages, all with a story to tell. Besides the cathedrals and churches in Worms and Mainz, one of the most significant sacred buildings along the route can be found in the wine-making village of Oppenheim. St Catherine’s Church shimmers in red between the vines and the Rhine, like an overgrown Rhine ship, captivating cyclists in its spell.  It is the perfect spot for a break along the 55 km bicycle ride.

Who would have thought that St Catherine’s Church would be considered one of the most important Gothic churches in Germany, alongside the Strasbourg Minster and Cologne Cathedral. It is most famous for its stained glass windows. The oldest, in the nave and the east chancel, date back to 1275. If you look closely, there is a very striking window depicting the Oppenheim Rose in the south façade. Not only is it beautiful to look at, it is remarkable because around 90 per cent of the glass is original, from the time it was built. This is unique, and cannot even be bested by the big cathedrals in Mainz, Worms and Cologne.

The pattern for the Oppenheim Rose, which is six metres long and over four metres wide, was a dog rose symbolising God’s love for his people. The large coat of arms featuring a black eagle for the imperial city of Oppenheim in the middle is surrounded by the crests of the Oppenheim councillors from the years 1332 and 1333. Hence the window’s alternative name, the Council Rose.

It beggars belief that it took around seven years to make a window of this kind in those days. There is also a curious tale that says that the master from Mainz charged with the task handed the work on the Rose Window over to his assistant to save time, while he himself worked on the Lily Window. It is clear that the Rose Window was a much better job than the Lily Window.

St Catherine’s Church in Oppenheim, Rhine-Hesse

St Catherine’s Church in Oppenheim, Rhine-Hesse

Filled with all these impressions and knowledge about the buildings and refreshed by a break, the second half of the cycle path to Mainz seems easier. Riding past the famous ‘Roter Hang’ vineyard in Nierstein and the Rhine terraces at Nackenheim, you can keep pace with the flowing river. Once you arrive in the old town in Mainz, you can reward yourself with a quick drink before taking the train back to Worms. If you would rather stretch the Rhine Cycle Trail out over a few days, there are lots of cosy places to stay in the numerous pretty, little wine-making villages along the way.

St Catherine’s Church in Oppenheim, Rhine-Hesse

St Catherine’s Church in Oppenheim with the Rose Window, Rhine-Hesse

Bicycle ride on the Rhine Cycle Trail near Nierstein, Rhine-Hesse

Bicycle ride on the Rhine Cycle Trail near Nierstein with view of the Rhine river, Rhine-Hesse

More leisure tips for nature lovers in Rhine-Hesse:

More information about holidays in Rhine-Hesse

Find out everything you need to know on events, attractions and other destinations in Rhine-Hesse at Rheinhessen-Touristik GmbH.

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