Eltville, a Romantic Rose City Along the Rhine River

Eltville, nestled between Mainz and Rüdesheim am Rhein, holds a special place in my heart as my preferred city along the enchanting Rhein river. My visits to this charming locale are numerous, yet with each return, it feels like my inaugural experience.

While names like Bacharach or Rüdesheim are familiar to international travelers, Eltville often remains a hidden gem for those from afar. Nevertheless, the romantic allure of Eltville, with its rich rose history, beautiful rose garden, vineyards, half-timber houses, and more, deserves greater recognition. It stands as a tranquil yet vivid place, hosting a myriad of events throughout the year.

So why is it called a rose city? How do I spend my time in this romantic haven? What noteworthy events grace the city’s calendar? What is it about Eltville that endears it to me? And why do I consider it one of the best getaways from Frankfurt? Allow me to share my insights in the sections that follow:

  • Exploring the Past of Eltville, the Rose City
  • Immersing in the Joys of Eltville Rose Days Family Festival
  • Basking in the Beauty of Eltville’s Splendid Rose Garden
  • Discovering the Historic Electoral Castle, a Pivotal Landmark
  • A Family-Friendly Stroll Through Eltville’s Charming Streets
  • Tasting Wines Amidst the Gentle Hills
  • Savoring Culinary Delights from Diverse Restaurants
  • Choosing from a Selection of Hotels with Wine Cellars and Gourmet Restaurants
  • Convenient Accessibility from Frankfurt am Main, Mainz, and Wiesbaden
Langwerther Hof, Eltville
Martin’s Gate (“Martinstor”), Eltville

    Exploring the Past of Eltville, the Rose City

    Founded in 1871 by Carl Schmitt, Eltville, the oldest city in the Rhine Valley, made its floral destiny at the end of the 19th century. Over half a million roses adorned the city walls, turning Eltville into a blooming spectacle. Roses, once just flowers, became a cultural phenomenon, gaining popularity and respect. In the heyday, the rose school’s influence even reached St. Petersburg. Eltville’s gardeners, caught up in the rose fever, grew, exhibited, and triumphed in competitions, turning the city into a vibrant hub of horticultural excellence.

    After the First World War, Eltville, which was once full of life as a rose city, became less vivid. However, things changed in the 1960s when Reinhard Pusch, the city gardener, worked to bring back the vibrancy. He successfully increased the cultivation of roses. In 1979, he added even more charm by planting rose beds in the moat and introducing climbing roses.

    In 1988, the Society of German Rose Friends (www.rosenfreunde.de) bestowed the prestigious title of Rose City (Rosenstadt) upon Eltville. This marked Eltville as the fourth rose city in Germany at that time. Presently, roses continue to play a significant role in defining the cityscape. Additionally, the dedicated members of Eltville’s rose association (Rosenfreunde Eltville e.V., www.rosenfreunde-eltville.de) actively contribute to nurturing the rose culture within the city.

    Part of the rose garden in the castle's courtyard
    The Gensfleischhaus, part of an old noble court that belonged to ancestors of Johannes Gutenberg.

    Immersing in the Joys of Eltville Rose Days Family Festival

    In late spring, the local community hosts a cherished tradition known as the Eltville Rose Days. This annual event takes place on the first weekend of June, filling both the city center and the Electoral Castle with an attractive program. The festivities feature a blend of activities, such as a handicraft and rose market, live performances on festival stages, Sunday shopping, a children’s program, themed tours, and more. With its diverse offerings, the Eltville Rose Days emerge as an event tailor-made for the enjoyment of the entire family.

    Basking in the Beauty of Eltville’s Magnificent Rose Garden

    During the summer, my regular visits to Eltville is around the bloom of its 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 ranging from historical roses to rambling roses up to 10 meters high, and even Japanese roses. The sheer expanse of blossoms is utterly irresistible. The fragrance from the rose garden drifts through the courtyard, gently awakening my senses. I have a particular fondness for these floral scents, especially the timeless aroma of old-fashioned roses. Since my initial visit to this rose haven, I’ve cultivated roses in my own garden.

    Sitting on the resting benches, I could spend hours fascinating the rose beds and their meticulously arranged layouts. The garden was so gorgeous! Outside the sprawling rose garden, in the historical castle moat and along the Rhine promenade, there are also roses, pink and red, blooming bright and colourful.

    Roses in Rose garden in Eltville, Germany
    Roses in Rose garden in Eltville, Germany

    Discovering the Historic Electoral Castle, a Pivotal Landmark

    The castle tower, castle street, and castle square are next to the rose garden. Following the well-preserved wooden covered bridge, I wander towards the castle square, where the tourist information centre and a quaint gift shop located. For a nominal fee, I can ascend the spiral staircase of the castle tower, leading to the panorama platform for a spectacular view. A memorial in the tower pays homage to Johannes Gutenberg, the renowned inventor of movable type for the printing press.

    The imposing tree in the centre of this small square is very eye-catching. Encircled by a bench, it provides a welcome refuge, especially during the summer, offering a cool respite. On windy days, it stands as a shelter against the elements.

    The castle’s construction began in 1330 and completed in 1350. The east wing, ravaged by Swedish troops in 1635, underwent reconstruction in 1682/83. Today, as Eltville’s iconic landmark, the Electoral Castle serves as a sought-after venue for cultural events, weddings, and joyous celebrations.

    The well-preserved wooden covered bridge leads to the castle square
    Electors’ Castle Square and Castle Street

    A Family-Friendly Stroll Through Eltville’s Charming Streets

    My leisurely stroll often starts at the Rhine promenade. Typically, I conveniently park my car near Josef-Hölzer-Straße. In close proximity to the parking area, an informative board describes the treasures of Eltville’s historic center. For those venturing on this journey for the first time, it’s a helpful guide. Moreover, the route gracefully reveals, including all the noteworthy structures in the old center. The highlighted sites on the official walking route include:

    1. Electors’ Castle (“Kurfürstliche Burg”)
    2. Castle Square and Castle Street
    3. Gensfleischhaus
    4. Langwerther Hof
    5. Hof Bechtermünz
    6. Peter and Paul Catholic Church
    7. Old School (“Alte Schule”
    8. Market Square (“Marktplatz”)
    9. Oldest Town Hall (Schmittstraße
    10. Am Breitenstein (Entenplatz)
    11. Sohlern’scher Hof
    12. City Wall
    13. Sebastian’s Tower (“Sebastiansturm”)
    14. Martin’s Gate (“Martinstor”)
    15. Eltzer Hof
    16. Rose House (“Haus Rose”)
    17. Rose Garden (“Rosengarten”)
    18. Crass Castle (“Burg Crass”)
    19. City Tower (“Stadtturn”)

    Typically, the prescribed walking route starts at the Electors’ Castle. However, before reaching the castle, I prefer taking a stroll along the Rhine promenade. Here, by the river, you’ll find charmingly crafted wooden seats. A few noteworthy sites along the Rhine promenade include:

    • 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

    After that, I meander through Burgstraße and Theingauer Straße, taking a pause at the bustling market square. Occasionally, I treat myself to lunch at one of the restaurants in the old centre or have a cup of coffee and a slice of cake at a quaint café. The narrow, inviting streets of the old centre make for a leisurely and enjoyable stroll.

    The main sites in Eltville's old town on an information board
    The tree-lined avenue at Platz von Montrichard
    Fountain in the market square, Eltville
    Langwerther Hof, Eltville

    Tasting Wines Amidst the Gentle Hills

    Sektstadt (Sparkling wine city)

    Eltville proudly holds the nickname “Sektstadt,” referring to its association with sparkling wine, known as “Sekt” in German. Two esteemed companies, Sektmanufaktur Schloss VAUX AG and Rotkäppchen-Mumm Sektkellerei (owned by Matheus Müller Sektkellereien GmbH), produce fine German sparkling wines.

    The local tourist office organizes the Old Town Tour with Sekt. During this tour, participants stroll through the Old Town, culminating in a Sekt reception held in the historic castle cellar.

    Tourist-Information Centre
    Besucherzentrum Kurfürstliche Burg
    Burgstraße 1, 65343 Eltville am Rhein
    Telephone: 06123 9098-0
    Email: touristik@eltville.de

    Wine tasting

    Rheingau, or Rhine Valley in English, paints a picturesque picture of a cultural landscape and hilly terrain on the right bank of the Rhine river. Renowned for its exceptional wine production, particularly the best Rieslings and various other wine varieties, Rheingau has numerous local wine cellars and is a treasure trove for wine enthusiasts.

    Near Martin’s Gate there is wine tasting stand (Weinprobstand). This spot hosts wine tasting events all year round, with different producers taking turns to showcase their exquisite wines. The stand opens its doors for a few hours each day. For detailed information on these activities, visitors can inquire at the tourist centre. I find this experience particularly enjoyable as it allows me to sample wines before making a purchase.

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    Grape juice

    A special grape juice crafted from the early-harvested grapes is a delightful treat. This serves as the perfect foundation for creating refreshing, non-alcoholic summer drinks. My little one absolutely likes it, and truth be told, so do I.

    The City Tower (“Stadtturn”) in the romantic rose city of Eltville, Germany
    Weinpresse next to the entrance of the Eltville's rose garden

    Savoring Culinary Delights from Diverse Restaurants

    Many of the restaurants here has their own wine cellars, and some places expertly pair wines with their dishes – a fantastic idea for someone like me who isn’t a connoisseur of local wines.

    For a more laid-back dining experience, Anleger 511 (Platz von Montrichard 2, 65343 Eltville am Rhein) situated by the Rhine riverbank is an excellent choice. Offering simple yet delicious German fare, it’s housed in a beautifully renovated historic building – the perfect spot for a relaxing lunch break after a leisurely stroll along the Rhine promenade.

    And if you have a sweet tooth like me, the Altstadtcafé Glockenhof (Marktstraße 3, 65343 Eltville am Rhein) near the market square is a must-visit. It offers creative rose cakes, luscious rose truffles, and aromatic rose coffee.

    Choosing from a Selection of Hotels with Wine Cellars and Gourmet Restaurants

    In Eltville, some wine producers go the extra mile by not only owning restaurants but also charming hotels, ensuring a tranquil retreat for both wine connoisseurs and families.

    Take, for instance, the Wein Hotel Koegler in the heart of the old town, not only has a restaurant serving delectable European cuisines but also houses a wine cellar offering several German Rieslings and Pinot Noir. With the added bonus of a playground, it proves to be an excellent choice for families seeking a stress-free holiday.

    On the other hand, the 4-star Hotel Kronenschlösschen exudes classical charm with its elegant rooms with with antique furniture and silk curtains. Beyond its luxurious accommodations, the hotel features an award-winning restaurant that hosts weekend dinner events throughout the year. From Tatort (a popular German crime TV series) Dinner to Toskana Dinner, Bordeaux-Dinner, and Summer Party Dinner, there’s an event for every taste. With an impressive selection of 2500 different wines, this hotel has earned the accolade of the best wine menu in Germany, making it an ideal haven for couples seeking a romantic and relaxing holiday.

    Convenient Accessibility from Frankfurt am Main, Mainz, and Wiesbaden

    The romantic city of Eltville lies just 50 km west of Frankfurt, making it a convenient 40-minute drive—a compelling reason that drew me to explore its charm.

    For those seeking a more leisurely journey, a boat ride presents a scenic option. The KD Rhine cruise has stops at various locations, including Eltville. Additionally, the cruise halts at Kaub, offering the chance to explore Pfalzgrafenstein Castle located in the midst of the Rhine river.

    Alternatively, efficient train connections link Frankfurt and Eltville. Departing hourly from Frankfurt central station, the train journey spans 54 minutes. If you’re at Frankfurt Airport, opt for fast trains with transfers at either Main or Wiesbaden to reach Eltville. Conveniently, tickets are available on the German Railway website.

    Trains departing from Frankfurt central station make stops at Mainz or Wiesbaden. If you find yourself with a layover in Frankfurt, Eltville becomes an ideal haven to spend a couple of delightful hours.

      7 Comments

      1. Hi Mijia,

        Thank you for the details in your post. I currently reside in Frankfurt. Last weekend, I took the RB10 train with my e-bike (for which I purchased a 6.5 Euro bike day pass) from Frankfurt to Schierstein. From there, I cycled to Assmannshausen, enjoying the picturesque scenery along the way. I made a stop in Eltville, where I parked my bike to stroll through the Rose Garden and explore the castle, ascending the spiral staircase to capture some photos of the stunning views. Besides Eltville, I would also suggest visiting Assmannshausen, a charming and lovely part of the Rhine Valley.

      2. Great post! I would love to go visit some of the amazing towns along the Rhine River. I’ve even heard great things about Rhine River cruises. Maybe one day!

      3. I feel like I haven’t even made a dent in the cities in Germany despite my 3 trips. Eltville looks like such a cute little town! I would love to go to the wine cellars and go wine tasting!

      4. Wow, I’ve been to Germany a couple times now and haven’t before heard of Eltville. It seems like such a picturesque and relaxing town to visit, and I love that it’s such a walkable town. I’m adding it to my list of must-sees for our next trip to Germany! Thanks for sharing.

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