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Wine & Knights History at Brömserburg Castle

Bromserburg Castle Rheingau Wine Museum photoThe Bromserburg Castle sits at the edge of the Rhine River just at the northern end of the popular tourism town of Rudesheim. Originally called the Niederburg (now a little village just down river), the square keep castle was built on the site of an earlier Roman tower which stood at the end of a bridge across the river from the Roman settlement of Bingium, now Bingen, on the opposite side of the Rhine. Some earlier walls remain, but the main form of the square castle keep dates from the 11th Century, one of the oldest castles along the middle Rhine, with additional construction in the 12th Century. The castle was a fortification of the ruling Prince Archbishops of Mainz (see Mainz Cathedral), serving as a customs toll watch tower.

Castle Model Niederburg photoAfter the more defensible castle of Ehrenfels was constructed a mile down river at the beginning of the 13th Century and the “Mouse Tower” was built as customs house (see Castle Ehrenfels and the Mausturm), the Niederburg lost its value as a toll castle and came into the hands of the Knights of Rüdesheim and the Brömsers, a powerful medieval family dynasty of the area, who lived for several generations within the walls of the castle, hence the name, Brömserburg. During the Thirty Years War which raged in the Rhineland in the 17th Century the high tower of the castle was destroyed in 1640 in a siege by the troops of the Duke of Longueville. A model of the castle as it was can be seen inside. With the susceptibility of middle-ages castles to artillery, the Brömser family of Rüdesheim built themselves a much more comfortable manor house nearby, the Brömserhof, which now houses the marvelous Mechanical Music Museum (see Mechanisches Musikabinett Rudesheim).

The Brömserburg castle came into the possession of the Counts of Metternich, another prominent family in the Rhineland (see Kloster Machern Bernkastel), but with use for it, the castle fell into ruin, until it was purchased in 1811 by the Count Friedrich Karl von Ingelheim. Like many of the other old castles along Rhine (see Castle Rheinstein and Castle Reichenstein) the count turned the ruin into a “romantic castle” residence. Court architect Georg Moller added faux Renaissance windows and moved walls to make the old medieval structure more habitable, adding balconies of sandstone and gardens. Rudesheim became a very popular stop on the tours of the romanticized Middle-Rhine in the 1800s. A guest book of the castle bears witness to the many illustrious guests and famous personalities, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (see Goethe House Frankfurt), Heinrich Heine, Carl Maria von Weber, Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdi, Paganini, and even Wilhelm & Jakob Grimm (see Brothers Grimm Hanau).

Rheingau Wine Museum

Wine Screw Press Rheingau EWine Museum photoThe Brömser castle is now owned by the city of Rüdesheim am Rhein and home to the Rheingau Wine Museum (Rheingauer Weinmuseum), one of the oldest in the region, with the medieval stone halls and nooks filled with a collection of exhibits dedicated to the production of the vintages which characterize the lands along the banks of the mighty river. The Rheingau is essentially the portion of the Rhine along the right (eastern) bank of the river between Wiesbaden and the legendary Loreley rock, with Rüdesheim in its center. In the castle gardens stand a collection the heavy wood and iron grape presses, wine barrels and carts, including a press from as early as 1594, while the floors and vaults inside the castle hold almost 2,000 wine-related exhibits from antiquity to the present. The hard work of the traditional winegrower, winemaker, and barrel coopers is represented by the collection of tools used in the past compared to the mechanical techniques of today.

Rheingau Wine Museum Winemaking photoNot only the making of wine, but the enjoyment is also on display with an extensive collection of drinking vessels, stoneware from the Rheingau, Siegburg, and the Westerwald, religious wine chalaces, wine bottles and labels, decorative corks and corkscrews, sculptures, paintings, graphics. Among the highlights of the collection are precious antique wine glasses in style from around Europe, even from the medieval and Roman periods. Climb the narrow winding stone stairs of the old keep to the top platform for a magnificent view over the vineyards and the river. And what would be a visit to a wine museum without some wine? So, wine tasting can also be part of the experience with a group.

Visiting the Rheingau Wine Museum Bromserburg

Wine Chalices Bromserburg photoThe Brömserburg castle is an easy walk from the center of old Rudesheim, the train station and cruise docks. The wine museum is open 10am to 6pm daily from mid-March to late October. Admission is €5 for adults. €3 for students and children, with a family ticket for €10. For groups with advance notice, wine tasting sessions are held in the garden, including an audio-visual presentation of the Rheingau region. With a car there is a parking lot next door, but in the busy tourist summers, can be a bit more challenging. In October, a Middle-Ages Market and Fair is held on the grounds of the castle. © Bargain Travel Europe

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Rheingauer Weinmuseum

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