A pretty little town tucked beside the gentle Moselle river, Cochem is as cute as a button. Think pastel coloured terrace fronted houses and restaurants reflecting on the calm river like liquid rainbows, merry tourist barges slowly navigating mast vine covered steep hills, which are crowned with castles. This is one of Germany‘s most postcard pretty towns and Cochem is fitfully located on the Romantic Route. Famous for producing refreshingly light and flavourful white wines, the Moselle Valley on the Romantic Route is a lesser known travel gem of Germany and its terraced vineyards cover the steep hills overlook the meandering Moselle RIver. The entire region is steeped in Roman history and has charming little wine towns dotting the river banks. Among all of them, Cochem is most popular and it is crowded with visitors from spring till autumn.
When in Cochem stay in a wine themed hotel
Tarek and I visited Cochem during our last minute babymoon in Moselle Valley and we had stayed the very pretty wine Hotel Weinstuben Hieronimi for two nights. It was located on the Moselle bank and we could see the Reichsburg (castle) from the window of our room. Young wines draped the open terrace of the hotel and clusters of green grapes swung from them. Artistically placed wooden wine barrels held pots of brilliant red geraniums and the hotel offered a glass of house wine to its guests at every meal. It was a wonderful place to relax, spend some cozy moments and the old town was within walking distance. Technically speaking, though quaintly attractive to the boot, there is not much to do in Cochem and it serves best as a weekend getaway from Cologne.
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Spend time soaking up the charm of the Old Town of Cochem
Cochem‘s Old Town or the Alt Stadt was quintessentially western European and traditional half timbered houses lined narrow cobbled stone alleys. Little squares were filled with merry holiday makers and a crisp late summer sunshine added much joie de vivre to the already pleasant place. The Alt Stadt was very old and equally pretty and just walking around its cobbled paths was enough to enjoy Cochem. One of these paths lead to the hilltop Reichsburg and on a clear morning, we headed upto it as well. Compelling even on a cloudy day, the Reichsburg of Cochem in Germany is gorgeous when the sun comes out. The reason is its hilltop location and from its perch, the views of the entire lush green Moselle Valley are absolutely captivating. Moselle river meanders seductively past rocky curves and a delightful green unfurls as far as eyes can see.
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Walk up to the Cochem Castle where legends abound
The castle by itself is very charming and though, it is a 19th century reconstruction, the current owner takes pride in its heritage. Its original date of construction, however dates back to the first millenium, 1000 A.D. and many Palatinate counts called the Cochem Castle home. Built on the orders of Count Ezzo, the Reichsburg Cochem was used mainly for defense purposes and it is believed to have housed 40,000 knights. Many legends revolve around this beautful structure and the most popular one tells the story of a tells of a lowly servant who was on his way to visit his beloved on the “White Sunday”, the first Sunday following Easter. On his way, he eavesdropped on a group of armed men and found out that they were planning to attack the castle. So, he rushed back to Reichsburg to warn the knights, who immediately overpowered the attackers. This victory was celebrated with a sumptuous feast of food and wine and this traditions continues till date as Knipps Monday.
See a slice of German medieval heritage at the Reichsburg
Being pregnant in the third trimester and huge, Tarek and I missed out on all these fun, except for the guided tour of the Cochem Castle. The imposing building which was lovingly reconstructed in 1868 by Mr. Louis Ravené, a Berlin businessman, is resplendent in Neo Gothic style and has many impressive rooms. The tour took us through the landscaped garden, past battlements and delicate bays into a series of intimate oppulent chambers like the Knight’s Hall, the Dining Hall, the Trophy Room and the Bower. The rest of the castle was more of stunning views of the pretty river valley and of the candy coloured town spread around in a circle. We left the Reichsburg after the tour and walked around the Old Town of Cochem until sunset. It was a weekend and visitors had swamped the river town in hordes. Crowds drew street buskers and performers and the cobbled lanes were filled with accordion music, jugglers and mime artists. Happy, cheerful crowds milled through them and it was great fun to do some people watching while sipping local wine (juice for me) at a vine draped restaurant.
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A weekend Cochem getaway to remember
The Moselle river, too was crowded with excited tourists and laughter floated from the pleasure barges gliding between the hills. It was a happy culmination of a beautiful day and a honey gold sunset gave it a perfect finale. We watched twilight fall on the medieval town of Cochem and stars popping up on a clear night sky like a row of lights being switched on. The next day we were scheduled to leave the Moselle Valley drive back to Cologne to our next few days of waiting for the new arrival. Our lives turned in a frenetic rush, the moment Akash was born and till today, we remember Cochem as the gorgeous (and much required) calm before the storm.
Travel Tips for Cochem
Cochem is situated between Trier and Koblenz. By car, follow either the B49/B53 road along the scenic Moselle River or take the E44 (A48/A1) motorway between the Koblenz and Trier, until exit 2, then go down the hill on the B259 road. You can also reach there by train. Direct local trains are available from Luxembourg (1h45min), Trier (50min to 1h10min), Koblenz (40 to 55min), Bonn(1h20min), and Cologne (1h45min). The best time to visit Cochem in the Moselle Valley is fall, when harvest and wine festivals are celebrated along the river with uch music, food, and dancing. Wine festivals are held between April and October. While in Cochem, dont forget to get along your hiking boots along to explore the natural beauty of the region. Visit a local winery for sampling the local vintages and dont forget to try the cordial made from tart peaches, found in the Moselle Valley.
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Travel Tips for visiting the Reichsburg in Cochem
Cochem Castle is open daily from 9:00 am until 5:00 p.m in the summer months of March to November. The castle restaurant opens and closes one hour later, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. In winter, the castle is open for public only on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays with a limited number of tours. The castle restaurant is in winter. The Cochem (Moselle) train station is located at just 1.4 km (0.8 mi) away from the castle and you can reach it by a brisk 15 minutes walk. There is also the more comfortable option of taking a shuttle bus to the castle summit. They run from many different parts of the city, such as the bus station and market square, to the Cochem Castle.
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Cochem Castle things to do
Reichsburg runs guided tours in different languages and visitors can enjoy a medieval evening meal on Fridays and Saturdays. It is called the “Knights Feast” and is a 4 hours programme complete with minstrels, maids and quips. Every year, on the first week of August, the town of Cochem hosts the Reichsburg Festival. The castle is used as a backdrop for staging of a lively medieval market in which many artisans set up shops. There are also plenty of wine, barbecue meat and mead available to feast on as fantastically costumed troupes and troubaders play medieval instruents for entertainment. You can also enjoy the Cochem Castle Christmas on the second or third week of Advent, in which the traditional story of baby Jesus is is presented by costumed actors, accompanied by animals. Check out the official website of the Cochem Castle for more information on shuttle bus schedule, guided tours etc.
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