Eltville, a small city between Mainz and Rüdesheim am Rhein, is my favourite city along the Rhein river. I cannot remember how many times I have visited this place since I have been living in Germany. But whenever I am in the city, I feel like being there the first time.
While Bacharach or Rüdesheim is well-known among international travellers, Eltville is less known to the outsiders. However, the romantic city of Eltville merits more attention because of its rose history and its charming little rose garden, vineyards, half-timber houses, and more. It is a tranquil and yet vivid place in which many events take place throughout a year.
So why is it called a rose city? What did I do when I visit the romantic city of Eltville? What are the popular events in the city? Why do I like the city so much? Why is the city one of the best excursions from Frankfurt? You will find my answers in the following sections:
- The interesting history of the rose city Eltville
- The family festival of Eltville Rose Days (Eltviller Rosentage)
- Eltville’s magnificent rose garden
- Landmark of the city, the Electoral Castle (Kurfürstliche Burg)
- Eltville walking tour for families
- Tasting wines grown on the gentle hills
- Various cuisines from many restaurants
- Nice Hotels with wine cellars and gourmet restaurants
- Easy to reach from Frankfurt am Main, Mainz, and Wiesbaden
The interesting history of the rose city Eltville
Being the oldest city in the Rhine Valley, Eltville made its name as a rose city at the end of the 19th century. In 1871 Carl Schmitt founded a rose school in Eltville. Over a half-million roses grew up in large fields of roses in front of the city walls. At the time, roses had become very popular and well respected. In the heyday, the business of the rose school even reached St. Petersburg. In the meantime, gardeners in Eltville also grew roses, participated exhibitions, and even won prizes.
After the First World War, the rose city was less vivid. It was only in the 1960s that the city gardener Reinhard Pusch took actions to reactivate the city garden. He managed to increase the cultivation of roses. In 1979, he also planted rose beds in the moat and planted climbing roses.
In 1988, the Society of German Rose Friends (www.rosenfreunde.de) granted the Rose City (Rosenstadt) title to Eltville. At that time, Eltville was the fourth rose city in Germany. Today, the rose plays an important role in shaping the city’s landscape. Besides, the active members of the Eltville’s rose association (Rosenfreunde Eltville e.V., www.rosenfreunde-eltville.de) support the rose culture in the city.
The family festival of Eltville Rose Days (Eltviller Rosentage)
In the late spring, local people run a traditional family festival called the Eltville Rose Days. The event takes place every year on the first weekend in June. It offers an attractive program in the city center as well as in the Electoral Castle, including a handicraft and rose market, live programs on the festival stages, Sunday shopping, children’s program, themed tours, and so on. Therefore, the Eltville Rose Days is an event for the entire family.
Eltville’s magnificent rose garden
I always visit Eltville in the summer seasons, mainly for its blooming rose garden. The main garden is in the courtyard of the Electoral Castle, and its entrance is next to the Rhein river.
In summer, the Rose Garden has more than 350 varieties of roses from historical roses, rambling roses up to 10 meters high and Japanese roses. The sea of blossoms is irresistible. And the fragrance from the rose garden gently drifts through the courtyard and stimulates my nerves. I love such floral scents, especially the smell of the old fashion roses. Ever since the first visiting of this rose garden, I planted roses in my garden as well.
Sitting on the resting benches, I could spend hours fascinating the rose beds and their layouts. The garden was so gorgeous! Outside the extensive rose garden, in the historical castle moat as well as at the Rhine promenade, there are also roses, pink and red, blooming bright and colourful.
Landmark of the city, the Electoral Castle (Kurfürstliche Burg)
The castle tower, castle street, and castle square are next to the rose garden. Following the well-preserved wooden covered bridge, I wander to the castle square, where the tourist information centre and a gift shop located. Paying a small cost, I can also go up the spiral staircase of the castle tower to the panorama platform for a spectacular view. A memorial in the tower is devoted to Johannes Gutenberg, the famous inventor of movable type for the printing press.
The big tree in the centre of this small square is very eye-catching. It has a closed circled bench around the tree. In the summertime it is quite cool there, but a shelter in the windy days .
The castle’s construction began in 1330 and completed in 1350. The east wing was rebuilt in modified form in 1682/83, after being destroyed by the Swedish troops in 1635. Today, as the landmark of Eltville, the Electoral Castle is a popular location for cultural events, weddings, and celebrations.
Eltville walking tour for families
My walking tour always starts at the Rhine promenade. Usually, I park my car near Josef-Hölzer-Straße. Not far from the parking area, there is an information board that describes the sites of Eltville’s old centre. For the first-timer, it is a good suggestion. Besides, route covers all featured buildings in the old centre. The sites on the official walking route are:
- Electors’ Castle (“Kurfürstliche Burg”)
- Castle Square and Castle Street
- Langwerther Hof
- Hof Bechtermünz
- Peter and Paul Catholic Church
- Old School (“Alte Schule”
- Market Square (“Marktplatz”)
- Oldest Town Hall (Schmittstraße
- Am Breitenstein (Entenplatz)
- Sohlern’scher Hof
- City Wall
- Sebastian’s Tower (“Sebastiansturm”)
- Martin’s Gate (“Martinstor”)
- Eltzer Hof
- Rose House (“Haus Rose”)
- Rose Garden (“Rosengarten”)
- Crass Castle (“Burg Crass”)
- City Tower (“Stadtturn”)
Usually, the official walking route starts from the Electors’ Castle. But before I reach the castle, I like to have a walk along the Rhine promenade. There are couples of designing wooden seats next to the river. Some major sites along the Rhine promenade are:
- Matheus Müller Sparkling Wine House
- Sebastian’s Tower (“Sebastiansturm”)
- Martin’s Gate (“Martinstor”)
- The tree-lined avenue at Platz von Montrichard
- City Tower (“Stadtturn”) in the distance
- Weinpresse next to the entrance of the rose garden
Then, I follow the Burgstraßße, Theingauer Straße, and have a break at the market square. Sometimes, I would have a lunch in one of the restaurant in the old centre, or have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake in a cafe shop. All streets in the old centre are short and easy to walk.
Tasting wines grown on the gentle hills
Sektstadt (Sparkling wine city)
Eltville bears another nick name, the Sektstadt. Sekt is the German word for sparkling wine. The two companies, Sektmanufaktur Schloss VAUX AG and Rotkäppchen-Mumm Sektkellerei (owner Matheus Müller Sektkellereien GmbH) produce fine German sparkling wines.
The local tourist office offers Old Town Tour with Sekt. Participants of the tours will walk through the Old Town by a Sekt reception in the historic castle cellar.
Besucherzentrum Kurfürstliche Burg
Burgstraße 1, 65343 Eltville am Rhein
Telephone: 06123 9098-0
Rheingau, Rhine Valley in English, refers to a cultural landscape and a hilly region on the right bank of the Rhine river. It is a famous wine production area, which produces the best Rieslings as well as other types of wines. Eltville belongs to the Rheingau region and has many local wine cellars.
There is a wine tasting stand (Weinprobstand) not far from the Martin’s Gate. The wine tasting activities take place throughout the year. Wine producers take the turn to host the wine tastings. The tasting stand opens a couple of hours a day. Visitors can get detail information about activities from the tourist centre. I like this type of activity since I can sample wines before purchasing.
There is a type of grape juice made from early-harvested grapes. It usually serves the basis for refreshing, non-alcoholic summer drinks. My kid likes it very much. And, so do I.
Various cuisines from many restaurants
Restaurants in Eltville offer many European cuisines and regional cuisines. Many of them own wine cellars as well. Some restaurants recommend wines for their food. I like this idea since I don’t have knowledge of the local wines.
Osteria Piccolo Mondo (Schmittstraße 1,65343 Eltville am Rhein) is an Italian restaurant in a half-timber house. It offers delicious seasonal food in the Mediterranean ambient. The restaurant has a large selection of wines, including many white wines from the Rheingau area.
Looking for simple food? Anleger 511 (Platz von Montrichard 2, 65343 Eltvilleam Rhein) on the bank of Rhine river is a good choice. It offers simple German food. The restaurant is in the historic building which was completely renovated in 2009. This is also a good place to have a lunch break after strolling around the Rhine promenade.
It is worth to mention, the Germans can make very good creative cakes. The Altstadtcafé Glockenhof (Marktstraße 3, 65343 Eltville am Rhein) near the market square offers creative rose cakes, rose truffles, and rose coffee.
Nice Hotels with wine cellars and gourmet restaurants
The Rheingau area is a well-know holiday area. People come to taste wine, do outdoor activities, join the cultural events, and have a weekend escape. Some wine producers in Eltville own not only restaurants but also hotels as well. They offer stress-free holidays for wine lovers and families.
For instance, in the center of the old town, Wein Hotel Koegler has a restaurant offering European cuisines. It has a wine cellar selling not only the German Rieslings but also its Pinot Noir. It has a playground and is a good choice for family holidaymakers.
The 4-star Hotel Kronenschlösschen features classical-style décor, including elegant rooms with antique furniture and silk curtains. It has an award-winning restaurant and offers year-around weekend dinner events. The topics of such events are such as, the Tatort (a German criminal TV-serials) Dinner, Toskana Dinner, Bordeaux-Dinner, and Summer Party Dinner. With its selection of a total of 2500 different types of wine, the Hotel has won the best wine menu in Germany. It is a good choice for couples who look for a romantic and relax holiday.
Easy to reach from Frankfurt am Main, Mainz, and Wiesbaden
The romantic city of Eltville is only about 50 Km west of Frankfurt. It takes around 40 minutes to drive there. That’s the very first reason which brought me to the place.
You can also go there by boat. The KD Rhine cruise stops at many places, including Eltville. It also stops at Kaub, where you can visit Pfalzgrafenstein Castle in the middle of Rhine river.
There are also train connections between the two cities. The train departures from Frankfurt central station hourly and takes 54 minutes. Or, from Frankfurt Airport, you can take fast trains with changes at either Main or Wiesbaden to Eltville. You can buy train tickets at the German Railway website.
The trains from Frankfurt central station have stops at Mainz or Wiesbaden. If you have a layover in Frankfurt, this is a perfect place to spend a couple of hours. Check these day trips from Frankfurt.