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Lyons Cub loves knights, castles, and medieval markets. He is also a fan of the railroad training academy mommy works for and in addition loves the suspension monorail in Wuppertal. Thus, today, with two American visitors and one German colleague from mommy’s work, we visited Castle Drachenburg (Castle Dragon Fortress) and rode the Drachenfelsbahn, which is Germany’s oldest rack railroad, connecting the old town of Königswinter in the Rhine Valley with the Siebengebirge, ending at the Drachenfels plateau. It has already carried more than 40 million passengers through the Siebengebirge, exciting young and old with the highest engineering skills and a fantastic view over the romantic Rhine Valley.
We walked up from the parking lot to the station and showed our tickets, which we had purchased in advance on the Internet. First, we took the train to the peak of the hill to enjoy the view. We planned to get off half way back to visit the castle. By the way, once, smoky steam locomotives ran up that mountain, but since 1953, electric railcars have replaced them, taking visitors up the 1520m line to an altitude of 289 meters.
The ride with the little train up the hill was very nice; we had a great view of forests, valleys, and hills, with nice smelling flowers growing next to the rails. The train, which runs every 30 minutes, is really slow, and it wasn’t as steep as we expected, but it’s not scary and easy to do with little children.
When we arrived at the plateau, we walked to the railing and looked at the Rhine River and the town of Königswinter through the binoculars. Leander also got an ice-cream at the store. We enjoyed the view over the Seven Mountains, which are:
- Großer Ölberg (460 m)
- Löwenburg (455 m)
- Lohrberg (435 m)
- Nonnenstromberg (335m)
- Petersberg (331 m, previous name: Stromberg)
- Wolkenburg (324 m)
- Drachenfels (321 m)
On top of the hill was a ruin of an ancient fortress, and Lyons Cub climbed around on it.
On the path, Lyons Cub listening to the Siegfried Saga, told by the dragon that was not killed by Siegfried, contrary to his belief:
The dragon didn’t tell the whole story of the Siegfried saga, of course. We told Leander that according to mythology, Siegfried bathed in dragon blood to become invincible, but a linden tree leaf fell on his back and covered it, so the dragon blood didn’t get there to protect him. While drinking from a spring, he was stabbed from behind by his enemy Hagen exactly at that vulnerable spot, where his wife Kriemhild had sowed an X on to protect him, so Siegfried died. This little dragon in a box here told the story from its own point of view and came across quite heroically. It said Siegfried didn’t even kill him but just trapped him! Oh well. It was an excitement for little kids.
Then, we took the Drachenfelsbahn downhill and got off where we saw the castle, Burg Drachenfels. Lyons Cub sat down in the driver’s seat and had to make room for him as he got in. At least, he got to admire the switchboard with all the controls. No touching, though!!
We walked across a bridge towards the castle and watched an incoming train.
In the museum shop, my son bought a talking dragon. It’s repeating everything one says. They are called “Labertiere” (blather animals) in German 😉
Lyons Cub and his new talking plush dragon from the museum’s gift shop:
The museum shop is where the check-in and cashiers are, which is a tourist trap, because of course, both children and adults wanted talking dragons, wooden swords, and all other kinds of imitation medieval trinkets that were exhibited there 😉 We were lucky we got away with two talking dragons – Carsten, one of our companions, got one for his daughter, too. Afterwards, we finally entered the park and visited the castle.
Drachenburg Castle, built in 1882-1884, is one of the most important castle buildings of the late 19th century in Germany, combining nature and cultural experience, as well as landscape romanticism and unique history. It attracts thousands of visitors per year from all over the world since the beginning of the 20th century, who experience an unforgettable excursion, gathering impressions of extraordinary castle architecture and enjoying breathtaking panoramic views of the Rhine and the Seven Mountains. Moreover, in June, all the flowers were in bloom, and the castle was surrounded by pink and white petals.
Inside, we got to see beautiful, old stained glass windows and interesting rooms with original furniture. The was a billiard room, a hallway with a grand piano, and a loggia with a splendid view across the valley. The wall paintings were very interesting, too; for example, there was a painting of Lady Macbeth.
There were two sad bears who would rather have lived in the wild:
We ascended a tower to enjoy the view and then climbed downstairs to admire exhibits in a museum. We learned that there was a lottery in Cologne on January 20, 1900, for the benefit of the maintenance of the Seven Mountains and their attractions:
Then, it was time to take the Dragon Rock train back downhill. At first, Lyons Cub got into the conductor’s seat, but he soon had to make room for the driver and moved to the seat next to him, which was great, because he could observe him pressing the buttons and operating the train.
Leander gets on the Drachenfelsbahn:
Leander’s plush dragon, called “Urmel,” came with him on the train and imitated all the noises it could hear (a bit nerve-wracking for adults at some point…).
Here, Lyons Cub and his talking plush dragon are riding on the Drachenfelsbahn:
Then, we arrived at the final destination. Before we left the Drachenfelsbahn, a friendly conductor explained to Lyons Cub and our companions from mommy’s railroad academy, among whom are train drivers and tamping machine drivers, how the switches and turnouts work:
We said good-bye to the donkeys that are stationed at the foot of Dragon Rock to carry visitors uphill:
Suddenly, the weather turned around; the sun was hiding behind clouds, and it began to spit. We took out our rain jackets and made our way to a restaurant near the Rhine River to enjoy an early dinner.
To sum up, a visit to Burg Drachenfels and a ride on the Drachenfelsbahn is a great idea for a family excursion! Just be aware that you might go home with a talking dragon 😉