The Rhine River Valley
The Rhine (Rhein) is Germany’s longest and most important river. The fertile river valley was settled early in German history. It formed the backbone of the Western Roman Empire, of the Carolingian Empire and later became the central axis of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Rhine originates in the Swiss Rheinwaldhorn Glacier, flows along the Liechtenstein border and from there into Lake Constance. At the lake’s western end, the river begins its almost 1300 kilometre long journey to the North Sea. The Rhine is Germany’s busiest waterway and navigable between its mouth and Basel. The Rhine-Main-Danube Canal links the Rhine with the Danube river providing a transcontinental route from the North Sea to the Black Sea.
The Rhine carves deeply through the Rhenish Uplands, creating a dramatic river valley. Most scenic is the section between Bingen and Koblenz where the Rhine meanders through the Rhenish Slate Mountains, passing forested hillsides, steep terraced vineyards and many medieval castles.
Of the three most important tributaries, the Moselle River drains parts of the Rheinish Uplands, the Main River drains large sections of the Central German Uplands, and the Neckar River drains the Black Forest and the Swabian Alb. These tributaries keep the Rhine’s water level high all year round.
The Rhine, Main, and Neckar river valleys enjoy a sunny, dry and warm climate. They provide excellent conditions for vineyard agriculture and produce wine of world fame.
The Rhine is clean again: After a phase of relentless industrial development which left the river a big dump of toxic waste, the ecological endeavours were successful and the fishes have returned to Germany’s main river.