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The Rhine – river of poets and philosophers

The Rhine passes through over 1200 kilometres on its way from the Alps to the North Sea. Anyone who follows its course will travel through epochs and countries, and see fascinating cities and romantic castles. A river of poets and philosophers. For Victor Hugo, it was more rapid than the Rhône, as steeped in history as the Tiber and as royal as the Danube.

Along the Rhine

Novalis wrote, “I romanticise something when I give the commonplace a higher meaning.” And Heinrich Heine’s “The Lorelei” is probably the romantic poem par excellence. The Lorelei can be found between Bingen and Königswinter, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Rhine valley is sometimes narrower here. The river winds its way through spectacular gorges and it’s not for nothing that there are good locations for cultivating wine here.  And among all this beauty there are castles, ruins and schlosses, almost as picturesque as in fairy tales. Such as Burg Sooneck, where bloggers have been in residence for a few years to report on the fascination of the Upper Middle Rhine. It forms a grandiose contrast to the impressive industrial culture between Düsseldorf and Dinslaken and the Dutch Rhine Delta, where the tulips brightly bloom in spring. By the way, the Rhine was once the European river whose condition caused the most concern. This has changed. Even salmon have returned.



21 Nights RHINE | Riverside Debussy
Three Rivers, including the lower Danube
Three Rivers, including the lower Danube
14 Nights DANUBE | Riverside Debussy
Danube to Moselle Magic
Danube to Moselle Magic
4 Nights RHINE | Riverside Bach
Wine and other Moselle Spirits
Wine and other Moselle Spirits
7 Nights | Riverside Bach
The Moselle and Rhine to Amsterdam
The Moselle and Rhine to Amsterdam
Debussy Bach
7 Nights | Riverside Debussy
The Rhine and Main, Amsterdam to Nuremberg
The Rhine and Main, Amsterdam to Nuremberg
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Cologne, that’s the city’s “Tünnes and Schäl”, that’s gabled houses on the Rhine front, that’s the Old Market with cafés and streets through which the carnival passes in spring and the gay community moves in summer at Christopher Street Day. These are residents of the city who are known for their casual, humorous and friendly yet direct manner. These are temples of art like the MAKK or the Museum Ludwig with the most extensive Pop Art collection in Europe. And, of course, there’s the cathedral, the Gothic masterpiece, 157 metres high, with the world-famous altar of the Three Kings and the treasury and viewing platform, which you can reach via 509 steps. And Cologne, that’s “Kölsch”, a wonderfully drinkable beer that you drink out of small glasses, and which you can enjoy two, three or four at a time. Well then, cheers!



Can office buildings dance? In Düsseldorf, the answer to this question is a resounding “yes”. The architect Frank O. Gehry designed it – its model must have been the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They are located in the city’s famous “Medienhafen” quarter, where other international architects have also immortalised themselves in style between quay walls and railway tracks. Definitely worth a visit. Just like the house where Heinrich Heine was born in the old town, the Hofgarten and right next to it the K20 art collection: Klee, Picasso, Matisse and Andy Warhol, all there! And if you want to let the art reverberate a little longer, take a stroll through one of Düsseldorf’s many green parks.



No other city between Constance and Rotterdam has integrated the Rhine into its city life as grandly as Basel. Pretty art nouveau baths have been installed in the river, there are small restaurants and pubs and bars on its banks, pop concerts are held here, and the residents are all too happy to plunge into the waters for a swim. Another detail not to be missed in Basel is probably the most beautiful museum in Switzerland, perhaps even in the whole of Europe: The Fondation Beyeler, whose transparent building was designed by Renzo Piano. The best thing to do in the old town is just to drift along, and then at some point you will automatically come across the red cantonal town hall or the stately guild houses on Barfüsserplatz, which got its name from the “Barfüssler” monks.



It’s quite possible that you will find yourself saying “WOW” every now and then as you stroll and wander through Strasbourg. What you get to see here is impressive and touching, and quite simply beautiful. For example, the cathedral surrounded by half-timbered buildings with colourful decorative glass from the 12th century and one of the highest church towers in the world (142 metres). Or the lock bridge (17th century) can be described without exaggeration as a grandiose work of art by the engineer, Barrage Vauban. And that is by no means all: Be sure to stroll through the “Quartier des Tanneurs”. Half-timbering at its finest. Lanes with cobblestones. Covered bridges. In the Middle Ages, fishermen, tanners and millers lived and worked here. The architecture from this period is almost perfectly preserved. If you need a little break afterwards to really take in the beauty: There are cosy bistros in the former Gerber quarter.



In the past, Rüdesheim was regarded by young people as stuffy German and highly provincial. In the meantime, even the hipster scene from Berlin can be seen here from time to time. The town is best known for its 144-metre-long “Drosselgasse”, the venue for wine events in small half-timbered houses and garden pubs. If you want to get an insight into the history of the Rüdesheim nobility, visit the beautiful courtyards on Oberstraße. The Frankensteiner Hof, for example.



How it sings and laughs. Ah yes, the carnival. But Mainz also has its pleasantly sober sides. The imposing town hall made of natural stone is a statement. Large louvres keep the sun – and the sweat – off the officers. It was built in the 1970s by the world-famous architect Arne Jacobsen. And another exciting detail for architecture fans and those interested in the city’s history is also the new synagogue. Playful shapes, straight lines, green glazed ceramics on the façade. Highly modern – a visible sign of a Jewish community that looks back on a 1000-year history in Mainz. A highlight for river cruisers is also the Museum of Ancient Navigation. It is located in a listed locomotive hall and shows exciting models and constructions – from canoes to battleships. Now a stroll through the large weekly market, a chat with vintners who also sell there – and there it is again: the cheerfulness so prevalent in Mainz.



One pretty detail in the old town of Koblenz is the “Augenroller”. It is discovered under the tower clock of the old department stores’ on Florinsmarkt. To the beat of the pendulum, the man with the moustache and helmet twists his eyes – and every half hour he sticks out his tongue. According to legend, the robber baron Johann Lutter did this in front of his executioners. But that’s just a small feature in a city that otherwise has great things to offer. The equestrian statue of Wilhelm I at the Deutsches Eck, for example, where the Moselle and Rhine rivers meet. Or the Electoral Palace and, of course, right outside the city gates, the castle Burg Stolzenfels, which was built in 1250 and extensively restored, indeed almost rebuilt, in 1826 according to plans by Karl Friedrich Schinkel.



A walk through Bonn is a short journey through time in the old Federal Republic of Germany. There is the “Haus der Geschichte” or “House of History”, which reminds us of Ludwig Erhard, of “raisen bombers” and of the Germans’ incipient longing for Italy. There is the old town with the historic fortress belt, the Old Town Hall and the university, where Konrad Adenauer, Ludwig von Beethoven and Karl Marx studied. And there is Bad Godesberg, the once notorious diplomatic quarter. It is nothing short of a stroll between yesterday and today.



Not too many towns have such a lofty landmark as Breisach: the enormous cathedral with Romanesque and Gothic elements is enthroned on the 70-metre-high Münsterberg. A magical work of art can truly be marvelled at there: The high altar from 1525, hand-carved and positioned right at the centre, depicts the coronation of Mary. Just around the corner from the cathedral is a large black marble bull – the work of the artist Helmut Lotz. From the cathedral, the view all around is also worth taking in: to the west into Alsace, to the north-east to the Kaiserstuhl, to the south to the Eckartsberg with the remains of a fortress, to the east to the southern Black Forest. It is only a stone’s throw from Breisach to Furtwangen. There, the German Watch Museum boasts 8,000 exhibits from all over the world. 1,000 are on show. Super exciting stuff.



Ok, it is a former Electoral Palatinate residential town. It is the second largest city in Baden-Württemberg and its port facilities are among the largest inland in Europe. Since the city was all but destroyed during the Second World War, it is not exactly considered the pearl of the country today. And yet it is worth a visit. Mannheim is young, also due to the students at the university and the State University of Music and Performing Arts. Incidentally, the city’s National Theatre hosted the premiere of Friedrich Schiller’s drama “Die Räuber” in 1782. Visitors are best advised to stroll along the main shopping street, called “Planken”, because wooden planks were once laid out there to get across the square on dry feet. The old town hall is a gem, and the largest synagogue in Germany is also worth seeing. The Jewish community was an integral part of Mannheim’s population from 1660 onwards. Today, a glass cube in the city commemorates the terrible deportation of the Jews during the Second World War. The 2,400 names of the Jews deported from the city are engraved on it.



It developed from a Roman military camp and is one of the oldest cities in Germany. It has been a bishop’s seat since the 7th century. And it is not without reason that the cathedral dominates the city of Speyer and is considered the largest Romanesque church building par excellence. 134 metres long, 37 metres wide, protected by UNESCO. Right next door is the Episcopal Palace. In the Middle Ages, Speyer also had one of the most important Jewish communities of the time. The former Judenhof is now a museum. The fact that people in Speyer also enjoy life is evident in wine taverns, cosy pubs and, of course, at the “Brezelfest”, the largest festival on the Upper Rhine, which takes place every year in July. Anyone who sins here as a citizen of faith in the city can absolve himself of his guilt immediately afterwards at confession. After all, there are plenty of churches in Speyer.



Rotterdam, yes, is a cool port city, trendy and hip and known for its art scene, a chic shopping city and, above all, it is famous for its modern architecture. And the contrasts: There are the historic buildings like the Witte Huis (from 1898) in Art Nouveau style, there are cube houses built on stilts (from 1984) and there are also the imposing skyscrapers. Architects like Renzo Piano and Norman Foster have designed the spectacular (and renovated the historic) in a modern way.



Alleys, canals and van Gogh around every corner. Amsterdam is one of the most exciting cities in Europe. The historic centre was built on five million spruce trunks. The experiences this city has to offer are limitless. Paintings by famous artists can be admired in the newly designed Museum Square. Rembrandt and Vermeer in the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh has his own museum dedicated to him – the audio tour is a real experience: a touching journey into the life of the artist, who cut off his ear in Arles in southern France after an argument with Gauguin. The Anne Frank House tells a different, but equally touching story. And if you stroll through Amsterdam’s old town, you will experience real contrasts – Chinatown, with the first Buddhist temple built in Europe and with the famous red-light district.



Antwerp is funky, Flemish, rich in art, cosy, relaxed and exciting, all at the same time. Belgium’s second largest city is, to put it briefly, simply wonderful. If you’re in the mood for sightseeing, be sure to visit the Rubens House. The world-famous painter is a child of the city, and the house is a jewel of unparalleled beauty – with a studio and garden and, of course, paintings. No less exciting is the DIVA Diamond Museum; Antwerp has been a trading centre for precious stones for centuries. Experts believe that four out of five of the world’s rough diamonds have been in this city at some point. And, last but not least, architecture fans rave about the Museum an de Strom, or MAS for short. An imposing warehouse with metre-high glass walls and a panoramic roof on the 10th floor. And even those who don’t feel like sightseeing will get their money’s worth. Simply stroll through the special quarters of the city, admire original clothes in shop windows: After all, this is where the Belgian fashion revolution began with designers like Dries van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Bikkembergs, Raf Simons, Martin Margiela – trained and inspired by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Or stop off at one of the beautiful cafés – it is there that the city will give you a sense of what it is all about. Simply adorable.



We love Maastricht. And not without good reason, of course. Fashion fans may lose their heart and a bit of money in the trendy Wyck district, where boutiques and grandiose design and antique shops can be found. Other, even more exclusive places include Stokstraat and Wolfstraat with super exciting fashion in small shops. And, of course, Maastricht has much more than that. There is the oldest brewery here with an interior that is over 100 years old, the beer tastes delicious. And then there is Bisshopsmolen, the oldest working watermill in Holland. Those interested in history can walk through the casemates, a 14-kilometre-long underground defence system from the 18th century. Back in the present, a visit to one of the terrace cafés or a cosy pub is recommended. So casual.

Our ship on the river Rhine

Riverside Debussy

Charming and poetic, the compositions of Debussy created a beautiful bridge between romanticism and the developing modern world. So too will your ship, the Riverside Debussy, deliver the rich history of Europe along with all the modern comforts that bring you joy. The best of both worlds await you on the romantic Rhine river, where we are creating unique journeys that will allow you to see the old world in an entirely new, and oh so luxurious way. 


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