Perched atop a hill high above the charming town of Cochemon the Mosel River is Reichsburg – the Imperial Castle. The castle is the largest castle on the Mosel River and is surrounded by vineyards (side note: the Mosel River Valley is home to the steepest vineyards in the world!). The castle that stands today is one of Germany’s many Neo-Gothic style castles.
The exact date of construction of the original castle is unknown. A report of the castle that claimed to be from 1051 actually turned out to be a forgery from the 13th century. The first known documentation was in 1130. In 1151, King Konrad III officially declared it the Imperial castle – Reichsburg. The castle was used to collect tolls from passing ships. It has a long history of possession and was sold several times to pay off debts. It was heavily damaged during a war of succession of the Electoral Princes of Trier. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688, the castle fell under attack by King Louis XIV of France during the Nine Years’ War. His troops almost completely destroyed the castle the following year. After the destruction, possession of the castle went back and forth between France and Prussia. Almost 130 years later, the town of Cochem officially became a part of Prussia.
More Modern Times
In 1867, King Wilhelm I of Prussia allowed Counselor of Commerce Louis Ravené, a Berlin businessman, to purchase Reichsburg Cochem. The King agreed to sell on the conditions that he preserved the original structures still standing and that the castle would be partially opened to the public. Ravené intended the castle to serve as his family’s summer home. He began restoring the castle in 1868, the same year that King Ludwig began his Neuschwanstein. However, also like King Ludwig, he did not live to see the castle completed. His son (also Louis Ravené) finished construction in 1890. He was a lover of art and filled the castle with an exquisite collection. Tragically, World War II resulted in the loss of most of this art. Fortunately, much of the Renaissance and Baroque furniture can still be seen today.
In 1942, Ravené was forced to sell the castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice. The Nazi government then used the castle as a law school. By the end of World War II, the castle belonged to the newly created state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
Although Ravené had no intention of sticking to the Romanesque roots of the castle, some original elements remain. The Octagonal Tower and Hexenturm (“witches tower” – witches were put on trial by throwing them from the high window) still remain as part of the castle structure today.
About the Castle
In 1978, the town of Cochem purchased the castle for 664,000 marks. Reichsburg Cochem is accessible to the public only by guided tour. Tours in German start about every 15 minutes and last about 40 minutes. In the summer season, English tours start every half hour from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. There are also free translation sheets available in 12 languages. The castle divides the winter season into 5 sections, click here for more detail on tour availability.
On the tour, you can expect to see the Knight’s Hall, Dining Hall, Trophy Room, and the bower (the private apartment for the lady of the castle). There is also a castle restaurant open in the summer and in the parts of the winter (closed for Christmas).
There is also a Children’s Tour is available for ages 4-10. The tour lasts 40 minutes and goes through the usual rooms in the castle.
Additionally, they offer a Ghost Tour available for ages 3-10. This tour includes rooms not seen during the typical tour including the battlement parapet, torture chamber, bedroom, and tower. This tour is not scary and is still geared towards young audiences. The tour is 60 minutes with an optional “Robber’s Meal” at the end (usually another 60 minutes).
The castle hosts the “Knights’ Meal” typically on Friday and Saturday nights and it usually lasts about 4 hours. This feast consists of a five-course meal, a “jar” of wine, and live entertainment. Watch as court jesters and musicians transport you right back to the Middle Ages. For more details on availability, click here.
Reservations are not required for the general tour
The castle does request reservations for groups of 20 or more
Group tours also available in English, French, Dutch, and Spanish
Audio-guided tours available in Italian, Russian, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Japanese, and Chinese
Reservations required for the Children’s Tour, Ghost Tour, and Knights’ Meal
The castle allows dogs to come along with you on the tour
The tour does not allow strollers on the tour, they must remain parked outside the main gate of the castle
The castle does permit you to take photos during your tour
The castle, unfortunately, does not permit wheelchairs as there are many steps and narrow hallways throughout the tour
Summer (March to November): 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Winter season: varies – click here for exact times
€7 for adults
€3,50 for children ages 6-17
€6 for students (over 18)
€6 for groups of 12 or more
€18,50 for families (parents with 2 or more children under 18)
Pricing of Children’s Tour, Ghost Tour, and Knights’ Meal
Every year during the first week of August, the castle hosts a festival straight out of the Middle Ages. Here you can find a medieval market with artisans, troupes, and troubadours.
The castle also hosts Cochem Castle Christmas during the second or third week of Advent. Each year, live actors and animals give a retelling of the traditional Christmas story as Mary and Joseph travel to Jerusalem.
The castle chapel is also available to host weddings upon request.
There is no parking offered on-site. Instead, you can park in the town below. The castle is about a 15 to 30 minute walk uphill a paved road from the center of town. The unparalleled scenery offers quite a pleasant walk.
Cochem is one of the most charming towns in all of Germany. With Reichsburg Cochem above you and vineyards all around, it makes for a great history- (and wine-) filled trip. More fairytale castles are right nearby!