Oberwesel Germany: Home of the Wine Witch

Oberwesel, Germany and the Wine Witch

A short stop on my Off the Beaten Track tour 
in Germany, but one I am so glad I did

The trip from Koblez to Oberwesel went too quickly.  Although I love train travel in Europe, I would trade a train for a boat on a German river anytime!

photo from http://www.loreleyvalley.com/oberwesel-rhine/index.html

The boat stopped at most of the towns we passed picking up local residents and at one stop a large group of tourists.   

I almost missed viewing the Lorelei since my stop was next and the boat does not linger.  

We had just passed the famous Lorelei and in a few minutes were docking at Oberwesel.  A hike and tour of the Lorelei, overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage designated part of the Rhine river, is on my list for another visit.  Our captain was not distracted by any ‘siren calls’  and we arrived safely.  

Disembarking from the White Boat I was only a few steps from the main square when I arrived.     The well kept half timbered houses tucked between larger stone or brick buildings were just as I imagined a German town should be, or an impression left over from a movie set.   I was completely charmed.

Every town I visited on my Off the Beaten Track adventure was steeped in history.   Far more events, invaders, treaties and wars than I could fit into my head on my short day trips.   But it was not difficult to absorb the feel of a town, meet some of the locals and understand a little of their traditions.
Oberwesel was a walled city in the middle ages with more than the surviving 16 watch towers that protected the town from all foes.    The renovated sections of the walls are a perfect vantage point to view the city and the surrounding vineyards or enjoy a ‘city’ hike.
If you look up you will see row upon row of grape vines ascending the hill to the imposing Schonburg Castle.  The original building dates from the 12th century.  Today the castle houses a luxury hotel as well as a youth hostel. 
The castle complex.  Photo from www.loreleyvalley.com/oberwesel-rhine/index.html

A short walk from the central square where many festivals and events are celebrated each year, you pass shops, restaurants and private homes on your way to the Stadtmuseum, a perfect start to your understanding of Oberwesel and the surrounding area.
The Stadtmuseum is the first stop on my tour.   This interactive museum takes you through the history of the Upper Rhine river area via a ‘time machine’, large screens that react to a single touch.  Visitors and choose what interests them from a virtual tour of the town, use the
remote controlled camera on the river bank to see, even hear the river as well as have a radar view!
You could spend hours trying all the innovated systems within each section of the museum.  But do not miss the cinema in the vaulted cellar to see a film of the history of Rhine shipping, the old steamboats, toll booths and the need for icebreakers when the river sends ice.  

The Minorite Monastery is a former Franciscan monastery, church, garden, cloister and sacristy covers over 800 years of history.  The ruins are privately owned now.  After a fire destroyed the monastery in 1836 private homes were built in the area and it is still a residential area.
Contact the museum for details on how to arrange/book a tour.  em into@kulturhaus-oberwesel.de

 With only a short time remaining before my train leaves I took a fast paced tour of one of the highlights of Gothic architecture in Oberwesel:  Liebfrauen Church know for it’s golden alter.
The building was started in 1308.  
Entering from a side door it takes a few moments to appreciate the soaring ceilings and massive size of the church.    The gold altar is the most prominent part of the church but do not miss the larger than life painting on the walls that were intended to educated the masses who perhaps did not read and own books. 
                                                        Liebfrauen Church, Church of Our Lady
Gold Altar   from Bing.com/images

The Wine Witch:   Each year the town celebrates Weinhexennacht,  the crowning of the new wine witch for the coming year.   Other wine areas may crown a wine queen but Oberwesel selects their wine witch.   And she is a good witch, representing and helping promote the area wines for the year following her election.

The townspeople vote for the next year’s witch and on the night of April 30th the former witch is burned in a straw effigy and the newly elected witch escapes from a wine keg in the middle of market square!   The festival continues!


Carl Haags Tower where the painter lived and worked.   Originally called the red tower, Mr Haag bought and rebuilt the tower.  It is privately owned and not open to tourists
A short walk to the train station for my journey to Wiesbaden and another adventure.
So much to see and only half a day!  I shall return for a river trip and stop overnight in Oberwesel.
Schonburg Castle/Hotel and youth hostel
Medieval City Walls
St. Martin Church
Biking along the river
Hiking above the town
and around Lorelei
Wine Experience & Wine tasting
are all on my list for another visit.

I was the guest of Oberwesel marketing who arranged my great tour of historic Oberwesel.

Published by Lee Laurino

A traveler not a tourist, searching for experiences not in travel books. Solo traveler who travels as long and far as possible sharing photos of the people and places I discover

2 thoughts on “Oberwesel Germany: Home of the Wine Witch

  1. I just ran across this post. I actually went to the Weinhexennacht-Wine Witch festival one year as I was doing a tour of the Rhine and staying in the Schonburg on the night of it. Most fun I've ever had in Germany. The parade, the burning of the witch, the music were just great and the townsfolk were so welcoming even though they spoke no English and I spoke no German. Day before May Day in Germany – white asparagus, wine and burning witches. Love your blog. I think we have taken the exact same routes.


  2. So glad to find someone who experienced the Wine Witch! Hope to try again next year to be there during this event. Actually on my return from Europe now (via ship) and was sorry to miss the xmas markets in Germany and thank you very much for liking y blog! Share any other experiences you might suggest to me


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