Susi and Austin's

Travelling the Rivers and

Canals of Europe


Last not least: Bernkastel-Kues and Neumagen

Thursday 11 August 2022 3:17 AM

Bernkastel-Kues has to be one of the most charming places along the Mosel, that is: minus the many tourists who arrive with the cruise ships. We tried to book ahead for a space in the harbour, but couldn’t as the Hafenmeister was at home with Covid, and when we arrived the harbour was full. 

Luckily, we found a great mooring closer to town in front of “Café Rosi”. When we enquired regarding fees at the café, we were told: “Just have dinner here tonight and you can stay for as long as you like!” Well this was a tough one! No cooking and no mooring fees?! “Fine”, we said and had a lovely dinner and two nights free stay on the river bank, just on our own. From our spot we had the best view of - you guessed it - the local castle.

“Burg Landshut” as the former summer residence of the archbishops of Trier was called was destroyed by fire at the end of the 17th century and is now a picturesque ruin. Unfortunately, on a closer look, it has been further ruined by installing a restaurant with large glass windows in its middle.

But there are so many wonderful things to see downtown! Timber houses with carved rosettas and painted motifs are the norm. Other houses are adorned with gilded signs, humorous poems or religious icons. The most unusual house is the so-called “Spitzenhäuschen”. Nobody knows why it was built so narrow. Maybe a room per level was all the owner could afford? Or it had to be slim to allow horse and carts to pass by.

St. Michael, the protector of good from evil, is the town’s patron saint and the same named church is a treasure trove.

Close by is the Karlsbader Platz, named after Bernkastel’s sister town. The spa town Karlsbad or "Karlovy Vary" is now within the Czech Republic. 

Across the bridge, in Kues, it’s all about the town's most honoured church dignitary, Cardinal Nikolaus Cusanus, a 15th-century scholar of astronomy and science in general. Almost a hundred years before Copernicus he already confirmed that the earth is not the centre of the universe. 

We took a ride with a little train up steep hills right to the top of Kues. From there we could overlook the Mosel and the vineyards opposite on the Bernkastel side. There are 3 million single vines on these slopes. Each vine produces 1 bottle of wine per season. That’s a lot of grape juice!!

The ground in the Mosel valley consists mainly of slate which is very rich in minerals and is also good at retaining water. The location a certain wine grows on is called “Lage” and the most expensive “Lage” is a small area where the well-known "Bernkastel Doctor" wine grows. Strange name, you might think! The story goes, that the archbishop of Trier fell quite sick one day, and being the important person he was, great efforts were made to find a cure. 

But he got gradually worse and nothing seemed to help, until the vintner from said location gave him a bottle of his wine to drink. Low and behold the archbishop felt much better the next day. From then on the name “Bernkastel Doctor” stuck. If you ask me, I think the archbishop faked it!

Neumagen was sadly the last stop before getting to our winter harbour in Schweich. Here the old Romans left their traces everywhere.

 A whole array of reliefs that once decorated Roman graves have been found in this area. They feature scenes of daily living like pupils being taught, servants styling the hair of the lady of the house and farmers paying their tithe. The most significant one is the famous wine ship, a proof of Roman wine growing on the Mosel during the first couple of centuries AD. The type of ship laden with barrels was originally a warship but was then used to transport Mosel wine over long distances. The most famous face on the wine ship is the "Jolly Steersman" who, maybe a little inebriated, seems to listen to the glucking sound the wine makes slushing around in the barrel.

A life-sized wooden replica of the wine ship is used to fare people and wine across the river during the yearly wine festival. 

After retracing our steps from our last visit in 2014 we indulged in a Flammenkuchen at a local winery. Flammenkuchen is like a paper-thin pizza with smoked bacon, fried onion and sour cream topping and goes down especially well with a drop of local wine. Just what the doctor ordered! Cheers! 


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