Where else offers you the opportunity to see dressed up monkeys playing an instrument, a museum dedicated to the horrors of medieval torture, an old castle housing a collection of wine artifacts amongst its own history and ride a cable car sailing over luscious vineyards. And all of this whilst being amongst picturesque Rhine River views. You’ll find all of this and more in the quaint town of Rudesheim, about 60kms from Frankfurt Airport.
I can’t say that Rüdesheim was ever on my list of must-see places, but as our trip to Croatia entailed a flight via Frankfurt, we decided to break our journey with a couple of nights in Germany. We wanted somewhere a little quieter than a major city, so after a bit of research, the gorgeous little town of Rüdesheim seemed to fit the bill.
It took us a bit under an hour to get there by car from Frankfurt Airport or you can choose to take the train which takes approx. one and a half hours. Situated on the Rhine River, the town immediately impressed us with its traditional German architecture and pretty views.
So with a couple of days to explore, here’s a few of the things we found to do in Rüdesheim.
1. Niederwald Monument
This is a must-do when you’re in Rüdesheim. You can catch the open-air cable-car from the Oberstrasse and take in vineyard views from the air before arriving at the Niederwald Monument. Built in the late 1800s to commemorate the unification of Germany, the 32 metre high monument towers over panoramic views of the Rhine Valley. Although we didn’t do the longer trip, you can combine the cable car ride with a walk to the chair lift ride down to Assmannshausen and a riverboat tour taking you back to Rüdesheim.
2. Siegfried’s Music Museum
Ok – this is where the dressed up musical monkeys come in (in case you were wondering). Located in the Oberstrasse at the top of the well-known Drosselgasse, Siegfried’s Music Museum is situated in the historic Bromserhof which dates back to the 13th century.
This tour was much more interesting than I expected. It’s home to one of the biggest collections in Europe of mechanical music instruments and shows you amazing engineering expertise and artistic accomplishments dating back to the 18th Century. The 45 minute guided tour explains the history of the instruments and also enables you to hear sounds of days gone by.
The museum shop which you reach at the end of the tour houses a lovely collection of music boxes, replica instruments, tobacco boxes and books so you’re sure to find something a little different here if you’re looking for a souvenir. I highly recommend this tour – I’m sure you’ll find it fascinating.
3. Rheingau Wine Museum Bromserburg Castle
Situated along the Rheinstrasse, a few minutes walk from the Drosselgasse is the Rheingau Wine Museum in Bromserburg Castle. The castle is one of the oldest on the middle Rhine and its history dates back over one thousand years. What I really liked about this museum was that you could walk through and explore such a historic building at your own pace and also have a look at over 2000 exhibits devoted to the history of wine. There’s a collection of iron and wood grape presses, carts and wine barrels in the castle courtyard plus an extensive display of wine bottles and labels, antique wine glasses, ancient drinking vessels, paintings and historic tools inside the castle.
You can also climb the winding stone staircase to get a fantastic view of the surrounds. Watch your head here – people must have been a lot shorter all those centuries ago – fine for my 5ft 2in height but a little more challenging for my 6ft hubby
4. Medieval Torture Museum
I know this one sounds really weird and a little gruesome, but as it was a rainy afternoon and not so pleasant for walking around we decided to have a look at this museum, mostly out of curiosity. I was surprised at how much detail went in to each of the displays which explained how each of the devices were used but also found it sad how many ways humans could find to inflict cruelty and pain upon others back in medieval times. The Torture Museum is both morbid and interesting at the same time and it’s also educational. In saying that, I wouldn’t take kids to see it so save this one for adults only if you’re after some history of a different kind.
Drosselgasse is a small street that runs from the Oberstrasse down to the Rheinstrasse by the river. Even though it’s only 144 metres long, Drosselgasse is probably considered as the main eating and shopping area in Rüdesheim. As its only a couple of metres wide, it also gets quite crowded however this “must-do” street is popular with its bars and restaurants and a wonderful way to experience the vibe of this lovely little town.
Rüdesheim is popular with day-trippers but if you want to take things at a slightly more leisurely pace, you’ll probably find 2 nights/2 days is enough. Some may consider it a bit touristy, but personally I don’t mind that. There are some lovely little hotels right in the heart of the town and all the sights above are within easy walking distance of one another. Further information on Rüdesheim can be found on their tourist office website.