Hiking, wine and world history: A weekend in Ingelheim

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A journey to the Middle Ages

Anyone who visits Ingelheim must Imperial Palace have seen! Charlemagne had the medieval palace complex built in the late 8th century. Today, elaborately restored remains bear witness to its former splendor. You can explore the Imperial Palace either on your own or together with a guide.


Our city guide Irene Ahl welcomes us in the Museum of the Imperial Palace. We get a first impression of Charlemagne's life and the historical as well as archaeological importance of the site, which we are about to discover on foot. Ahl raves about one of the greatest achievements of the Carolingian ruler - his traveling.

Charlemagne covered a good 120,000 kilometers in his lifetime, which is equivalent to circumnavigating the globe three times. No wonder, then, that he had palaces built throughout his empire as bases, shelters and seats of government. The imperial palace in Ingelheim was one of the three most magnificent palaces, along with those in Aachen and Nijmegen.

Their remains give us an idea of that! We walk with Irene Ahl through the middle of a residential area in Nieder-Ingelheim. Between residential houses and playgrounds, we repeatedly come across impressive ruins of the former imperial palace. An exciting symbiosis between history and the present!

We learn that the imperial palace served as a place of government for several medieval rulers over the centuries. They all left their own mark. Charlemagne, for example, saw himself in the tradition of Roman emperors and drew inspiration from ancient palaces. The Ottonians added an important hall church and the Staufers transformed the palace into a castle-like fortified complex.

Irene Ahl's favorite spot inside the Imperial Palace of Ingelheim is the remarkable Aula regia, Charlemagne's former throne room. In another life, our city guide would love to be a princess at his court, she reveals with a wink. She would already have the right first name, because Irene was already given in the Middle Ages.

The Heidesheim Gate from the Staufer period is the last stop on our walk through the Imperial Palace. Until 2007, work was still being done here to uncover archaeological findings and prepare the monument for visitors. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe would be envious! He wanted to visit the Imperial Palace in 1814 and was disappointed how little of its former splendor was visible. We, on the other hand, are quite excited about how much we were able to discover and learn here.

On the wall, lying in wait

Irene Ahl now leads us in the direction of Ober-Ingelheim. After the demise of the imperial palace, a new center emerged here in the late Middle Ages. We pass by former city gates and head straight for the old castle churchthe best preserved fortified church in southwestern Germany.

It is considered an art-historical gem, the plague memorial as well as the Marienfester are particularly worth seeing. The many old gravestones in front of the church give the place an almost mystical atmosphere.

The 15th-century defensive wall, which can be walked all around, is also impressive and offers a completely new perspective on the castle church. Finally, we climb up the striking Malakoff Tower. Up here, a wonderful view of the old Ingelheim, the Rhine-Hessian hills and the Rhine plain awaits us.

No "red wine town" without wine tasting

After the extensive stroll through the town, we are particularly looking forward to the next item on the program. On the outskirts of Ober-Ingelheim, surrounded by vineyards and with a view of the nearby castle church lies the Hamm Winery. In the Vinothek Anne Hamm welcomes us to a small wine tasting.

While we taste top wines, she tells us about the long Ingelheim winegrowing tradition. Charlemagne is said to have planted Burgundy vines here. And because the town - unlike many other wine-growing regions in Rheinhessen - produces mainly red wine, the nickname "red wine town" has become established.

Only Goethe was disappointed with the red wine from Ingelheim. Not because it was not good. Rather, all barrels were drunk during his visit, as his notes reveal ... The poor man, unlike us, probably really did not have a good day in Ingelheim!

The oldest brewery in Ingelheim

Actually, the proverb advises, "Beer on wine, let it be!" The exception to this rule for us is the Golden Angel Brewerywhere we go to eat. Ingelheim produces not only excellent red wines, but also delicious beers.

Johannes Winkelser wanted to become a beer brewer since the fourth grade. He fulfilled this childhood dream via several detours by founding the "oldest brewery in Ingelheim" in 2007. Brewing beer in a classic wine-growing region takes courage and stamina. He also reaped many an incredulous look in the early days, Winkelser recalls. In the meantime, it's hard to imagine Ingelheim without the Golden Angel.

We enjoy a cold beer, seasonal cuisine and the ambience of this special place. The brewery impresses with its open, modern architecture. The centerpiece, the beer kettles, are located in the middle of the restaurant, so we can watch the brewmaster at work. Old Ingelheim pictures adorn the walls, on which one or the other local guest has already recognized himself.

Typical Ingelheim

We spend the night in the IBB Hotel Ingelheim and thus get to know another exciting part of Ingelheim: the "Neue Mitte". Here, a modern center with stores, cafés, restaurants and the KING cultural hall has been created in recent years.

Throughout the hotel, the theme of wine is taken up. Be it in the burgundy color of the upholstered furniture typical of Ingelheim, in the carpets with a vine leaf pattern or in the grape-shaped lamps. Of course, the hotel bar is also stocked with the best wines of the region.

Beautiful photographs of Ingelheim hang in the breakfast room and we recognize many places that we have already encountered on our guided tour of the city yesterday. From the balcony terrace we look down on our destination for today: the Ingelheim Bismarck Tower, which towers over the town in the middle of the vineyards.

On the Hiwweltour Bismarck Tower

For today we have chosen the Hiwweltour Bismarck Tower undertaken. The certified Prädikat circular hiking trail leads through the Gau-Algesheimer Kopf nature reserve, down into the Welzbach valley and back up to the famous Hundertgulden vineyard.

We begin our hike at the Bismarck Tower on the Westerberg, an observation tower that is over 100 years old and was once erected in honor of the first German Chancellor. At a height of 33 meters, we are offered a beautiful view of the various districts of Ingelheim in the foreground and the Rheingau in the background.

The nature trail through forest passages and vineyards, over pastures and along the idyllic Welzbach stream. We pass the "Salamander Holes", an important geotope, and enjoy ever new vistas at the most diverse places. But above all, we enjoy the peace and quiet that accompanies us the entire time. Up here you can really switch off and relax wonderfully despite some of the climbs!

A historical retreat

After a good three-hour hike, we return to Ingelheim and treat ourselves in the Wasem Winery a well-deserved refreshment. We sit on the summer terrace in the middle of the listed Cistercian monastery Engelthal. The historic building fabric from 1290 blends seamlessly with the modern architecture of the vinotheque.

In the immediate vicinity of the monastery is the Wasem wine hotel. This is also a wonderful place to spend the night if you are visiting Ingelheim. Lovely details like the wine barrel mosaic in the breakfast room or the wine bottle room numbers particularly appealed to us when we took a quick look at the new building.

We come again

All in all, this weekend in Ingelheim am Rhein went by much too quickly. We will certainly come again. Still waiting for us is the second Ingelheim Prädikatsrundwanderweg, the Hiwweltour Westerberg with Westerhaus Castle, waiting to be discovered.

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