A friend had her birthday last weekend and decided that she wants to spend it at Schloß Drachenburg – Baron Stephan von Sarter’s house in Königswinter, a German town on the Rhine near the city of Bonn. I am not a nature or hiking fan, but a sucker for birthdays, so I tagged along.
The house in question, Schloß Drachenburg, is a private villa in palace style constructed in the late 19th century. It was completed in only two years (1882–84) on the Drachenfels hill in Königswinter. Baron Stephan von Sarter, a broker and banker, planned to live there, but never did.
How to get to Schloß Drachenburg from Cologne?
A Regional Express in direction of Koblenz (e.g. RE8) goes straight from from Cologne Central Station to Königswinter, and takes about 40 minutes.
There are two option of going up from Königswinter to the Schloß – you can hike up the mountain for about 2.3kms. It is steep, and looks daunting. Another option is to take Drachenfelsbahn. It is the historical train that runs to and fro the Schloß. A combined return-ticket for the bahn and entry to the castle costs 15€ (ticket for entrance alone costs 7€). It is a short journey, with scenic views and two stops.
First stop is at the Schloß, and the second one is Drachenfels. The latter, a hill, stands at 1,053ft, and was formed by rising magma that could not break through to the surface, and then cooled and became solid underneath.
Instead of getting off at the Schloß (first stop), we went on to Drachenfels. It rests atop a mountain and has spectacular views of the infamous 7 peaks (there are actually about 40 peaks, but the name stuck to 7). Panoramic view of nature – forest, lake and mountains, with houses here and there. I would have stayed there for the breeze, for it was refreshingly cool and clean.
You can grab a bite or beer here as well, or go further up on foot. We did the latter and everything from my lungs to calves were on fire. It is a steep hike, though brief, and I wish I was carrying a bottle of water. The views are from a higher perspective, though not much different.
Using the same bahn ticket, we came down to the Schloß. The first impression is not as impressive as you’d expect from a castle. It is considerably smaller, but once you are inside, you have treats awaiting you.
The castle is surrounded by acres of green, and the main house is three floors tall. Ground floor serves as an exhibition area, with memorabilia from times bygone. First and second floors are residential quarters, with bedrooms, dining area, musical corner, library, kneipe (I love this word; it means a bar/pub), congregation setup with hand painted windows and picturesque corridors.
The management of Schloß have done their best to maintain 19th century look and interiors, including peach wallpapered bedrooms, stunning table setups underneath gorgeous chandeliers and bear skin rugs.
Adjacent to the main house is the North Tower. Many many flights of steep stairs take you up to one of the highest plains in the castle. Mister and I only made 80% of the way. My legs had turned to jelly, and I couldn’t risk looking down and fall on my face. They call it Acrophobia.
It was almost 7PM (time for closing), so we made our way out. On to the Drachenfelsbahn for Königswinter, and then R8 to Cologne Central Station.
Interesting fact: The castle was hosting a private event that evening. We assumed that it was a wedding (it’d make a GORGEOUS venue for a wedding/reception) but the guests didn’t look like they were heading to a wedding. My point is that it is a beautiful venue and up for bookings. Just so you know.
Pretty place and worth a visit if you are close by.