Bernkastel-Kues is really two cities that face each other on opposite sides of the Moselle, a twisting river that flows into the Danube. The most historic sights are found in tiny Bernkastel, which is home to Roman ruins and a town center that dates from the 17th century. The area is also known for its many vineyards, where Riesling is the predominant varietal.
What We Love
Landshut Castle: Built as a summer residence for the archbishops of nearby Trier, France, this castle was constructed in 1277. A devastating fire in the 1600s left it in ruins, but you can tour the tower high above the city for wonderful views of the Moselle River Valley. It's especially gorgeous in the fall, when the surrounding vineyards pop with autumn hues.
Graach Gate: This is the only surviving city gate in the world with origins in the 14th century. It has been substantially rebuilt over the centuries, and now houses a history museum.
Best Known For
Mosel Wine Museum: Learn about — and taste — Germany’s Moselle wines at this museum located on the Kues side of the river. It is located in the 15th-century St. Nikolaus Hospital, and you can also explore the complex's courtyard, cloister, and Gothic chapel.
Preserved Architecture: Bernkastel's Renaissance Town Hall was constructed way back 1608, and the town also has rows of timber-framed houses that have been standing since the 17th century. Those are fairly modern compared to Bernkastel' oldest structure — the slim Spitzhäuschen (Pointed House), built in 1416.
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Who It's Best For
Architecture Buffs: Those who like poking around old medieval towns have come to the right place, where architecture spanning many centuries is on display in a manageable setting.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
That Castle Is a Climb: There are hiking trails that lead from Bernkastel up to Landshut Castle, but save yourself the time and energy by booking one of the shuttles that goes straight to the landmark. You can book a round-trip ticket, or opt for one-way and take the easier hike back down.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.