It's upriver! But not by boat, but on the Rhine Cycle Route, and through the rich cultural landscape of Rheinhessen. For this weekend tour we have chosen the route between Ingelheim and Worms. Because where once kings and emperors resided, ruled and celebrated - there are many reasons for enjoyable stops..

Friday start

Perhaps the most important treasure of Ingelheim turns incessantly in circles in a display case: a gold coin with the portrait of Charlemagne, minted around the year 800 in Arles, France, found a few decades ago in Ingelheim. Today, it is the centerpiece of the "Museum bei der Kaiserpfalz". And of course, we'll stop by there briefly before we start our tour. Welcome to Ingelheim! This is where the first stage of our weekend on the Rhine Cycle Path begins. Ingelheim not only has an imperial palace worth seeing, because Charlemagne stayed here from time to time, the town on the Rhine is also known for its winegrowing. Ingelheim produces particularly high-quality red wines, one or two of which should be sampled in a cozy wine tavern on the evening before the tour. And there's something else you really shouldn't miss here: a trip to the wildly romantic, protected floodplain landscape along the Rhine near the Frei-Weinheim district.

The Rhine Cycle Route

The Rhine Cycle Route is one of the most important long-distance cycle routes in Europe. It runs for 1,233 kilometers from its source in Switzerland through five countries to its mouth at Rotterdam. Between the border with France in the south and the state border with North Rhine-Westphalia in the north, 335 kilometers of it lie on the left bank of the Rhine and 85 kilometers on the right bank in Rhineland-Palatinate. The route runs almost without climbs, mostly near the banks and almost continuously on dedicated paths. Often you cycle along under vineyards.

Where Charlemagne lived from time to time

This weekend, we want to take time for culture, to follow in the footsteps of the crowned heads of yesteryear who strongly shaped this region. That's why we're also cycling over to the imperial palace in the district of Nieder-Ingelheim: the "Historical Circular Trail" through the impressive ruins leads at 18 stops to the most interesting places in the castle. The starting point is the visitor center, from where the guided tours also depart every Saturday from April to October at 2 pm. Those who want to experience the impressive dimensions of the palatinate in its heyday can see for themselves in the "Museum bei der Kaiserpfalz". Here, in addition to the famous gold coin, 3D animations of the original buildings are shown, among other things.

Tip for all e-bikers: You can recharge your battery during your visit to the Palatinate at the public charging station not far from the Imperial Palace. Afterwards, you can make short detours to the Saalkirche and the even older Remigiuskirche - before continuing on to Mainz, 20 kilometers away. 

Along the dike

The best way is to set off from Ingelheim in the direction of Iker Lake, which you pass on the three kilometers from the Imperial Palace to the long-distance cycle route. Once you reach the Rhine, turn right to MainzThe route runs directly along the dike, past fields and meadows along the Rhine. Shortly after Heidenfahrt, by the way, there is another e-bike charging station along the route, in case the battery needs energy. The campsites on the banks of the Rhine or the Rhine kiosk in Budenheim offer refreshment stops. 

The winding alleys of Mainz

Depending on when you reach your destination for the day, you can take a short tour through the beautiful Mainz old town an. The real city tour is scheduled for the next morning: The best way to get to know the old cultural city is to walk through the winding alleys of the Weintorstrasse quarter and the Kirschgarten with its half-timbered houses. From here you can already see the top of the cathedral above the rooftops. After Worms Cathedral and Speyer Cathedral, Mainz Cathedral, founded in 975, is the oldest monumental vaulted building in Germany. 

A place of worship for 4000 people

Be sure to go inside! Who was not in the Cathedral St. Martin has Mainz not really visited. The vaulted ceiling of the impressive building stretches breathtakingly far above the visitors' heads. Its central nave measures 28 meters in length inside, and further back the west dome even 44 meters. Almost 4,000 people can be seated in the church. Kings and counter-kings were crowned here, including Frederick II, who was emperor of the Roman-German Empire from 1220 until his death in 1250. The cloister houses the Cathedral Museum, the second largest of its kind in Germany, which presents sacred art from late antiquity to the present day. Another highlight is the magnificent treasury.

Cycle to the wine

Directly on the banks of the Rhine the Mainz old town is where the easy 21-kilometer stage to Oppenheim begins. So you can take it easy, for example with a fresh beer at the beginning at the Eisgrub-Bräu brewery at the Mainz marina, which the long-distance bike trail passes directly. After 17 kilometers, the bike path makes a detour through Nierstein. Not without reason, because here the local winegrowers offer their wines on tap - and of course you can also order regional specialties. So just stop, sit back and enjoy - it's only three kilometers to Oppenheim anyway.

Colorful windows to the world

Even from a distance, you can see the red tower of Oppenheim's St. Catherine's Church rising into the sky. What is this huge church doing here? The town of less than 8,000 inhabitants is actually home to the most important Gothic church after Strasbourg Cathedral and Cologne Cathedral. Its colorful stained-glass windows, which have survived the centuries almost intact, are unique and should be viewed at your leisure: The most famous window is the six-meter-high and over four-meter-wide Oppenheim Rose from 1333, while the oldest windows in the east choir have been faithfully preserved since 1275. 

Hot day cellar tour

Especially on warm summer days, a visit to the Oppenheim cellar labyrinth is also a perfect program item. Its winding corridors, which once connected the houses of the old town on five levels, are almost 40 kilometers long. 650 meters of it can still be visited today - an almost mystical experience for young and old explorers alike. Before pedaling the last 34 kilometers to Worms, it is worthwhile for wine lovers to visit the German Wine Museum in Oppenheim, which opens at 10 a.m. on weekends in summer (otherwise Tuesday to Friday from 2 p.m.). Afterwards, the Rhine cycle path leads past the airfield, on the left is the Rhine shore with bathing spots, on the right you look out over wide fields and the hills of Rheinhessen. At Eicher See, there is a weekend house settlement where the inn of the same name is happy to entertain cyclists. Well fortified with vegetarian or rustic cuisine, the last 20 kilometers to Worms can then be mastered quite casually. 

Here plays the Nibelungenlied

With Augsburg, Trier and Kempten, Worms is vying for the title of Germany's oldest city. It will probably no longer be possible to determine which city deserves it. However, there is evidence that the first farmers and cattle breeders settled in Worms 5,000 years ago and that the Song of the Nibelungs is also set mainly in Worms. Numerous monuments, such as the Siegfried Fountain, which shows the hero with the slain dragon, point to this fact. Those who want to delve deeply into the heroic epic should definitely visit the multimedia Nibelungen Museum.

Nibelungen Festival in Worms at the Worms Cathedral
Nibelungen Festival in Worms at Worms Cathedral © Bernward Bertram

Quarrel among queens

Incidentally, one of the key scenes in the saga, the queenly quarrel between Kriemhild and Brünhild, takes place directly in front of the imperial portal of Worms Cathedral. Although the sacred building is the smallest of the three imperial cathedrals compared to those in Mainz and Speyer, it is no less impressive for that. More slender than the others, it rises into the air and overlooks the entire city from its highest point in Worms. Its origins date back to the early Christian era and it has repeatedly been the site of important historical events: Leo IX was appointed pope here in 1048, Emperor Frederick married Isabella of England in the cathedral in 1235, and Martin Luther had to answer for his teachings to Emperor Charles V at the Imperial Diet in 1521. After so many encounters with the nobility, Sunday ends best somewhere in the old town streets of Worms. After all, you can dine royally almost anywhere in this region of pleasure ...

Cover photo: Mainz Cathedral has gigantic dimensions - 4000 people can celebrate a service in it © aiko3p - stock.adobe.com

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