© 2017 Creative Commons user arthurtlabar
Marksburg Castle is perched atop a lush green hill, seemingly floating on a giant emerald pillow. It feels out of reach, like Rapunzel in her high tower.
I, too, was floating — resting on fluffy cotton pillows, sailing onboard Viking Hild, one of Viking River Cruises’ latest vessels, drifting closer and closer to the straight-out-of-a-fairy-tale fortress.
Marksburg Castle has been keeping watch over its spot on the Rhine Gorge — a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the banks of the Rhine River between Koblenz and Bingen in Germany — long before the Brothers Grimm ever popularized their adaptation of the long-haired ethereal girl locked in the tower.
The only castle on the Rhine that wasn’t destroyed during a war, Marksburg can only be visited by guided tour, during which visitors will learn about the medieval stronghold; its changing of hands throughout history; and life in the Middle Ages along the Rhine. Most of the structure’s buildings date back to the 13th and 15th centuries — even the original stone keep from the early 1100s still stands — and guests will feel as if they’ve traveled back in time when they step foot into the castle’s bastions, bedrooms, armory, great hall, battlements, chapel and courtyards.
Visitors of all ages will especially love a peek into the torture chamber, which features ghastly medieval devices used on prisoners and ne’er-do-wells. But one of the best views of all may be Marksburg’s lofty panorama of the Rhine, the surrounding hills and the charming towns below.