Historic Bernkastel is a storybook town with a charming story to match. Its renowned vineyard, Bernkasteler Doctor, was named after a 14th-century winegrower whose medical experience was nil. Rather, he was a humble man who, upon hearing that the Elector of Trier had fallen ill at Landshut Castle, brought him a keg of his finest wine, claiming it had chased off several of his own maladies.
Although the Elector had failed to respond to traditional medicine, after swallowing some of the natural elixir, he was soon cured. Thrilled with the result, the Elector proclaimed the intimate vineyard should then be known as Bernkasteler Doctor, after the “doctor” who miraculously healed him.
While in Bernkastel, you can pay your respects to the doctor, who lives in perpetuity atop a bronze fountain in a park beneath Landshut Castle.
Discover more fascinating stories when you cruise the Moselle River with AmaWaterways!
Witches Tower at Reichsburg Castle
The colorful half-timbered homes of Cochem are often eclipsed by the towering fortress known as Reichsburg Castle. Originally built in the 11th century and destroyed by fire some 600 years later, the castle contained a somber turret known as the Hexenturm, or “Witches Tower.” According to legend, women accused of witchcraft were tried within this tower. If convicted, they were thrown from the window. Those who died from their fall were considered innocent and given a proper burial.
Perhaps the knowledge that blood stained the hillside was too much for wealthy businessman Louis Ravené, who purchased the land and castle ruins in the 19th century, intending to remodel them as his family’s summer home. While construction wasn’t finished on Reichsburg until after his death, Ravené’s son left the original Hexenturm standing, so that centuries of visitors could bear witness to the castle’s tragic past.