About the Rhineland Region

To get an idea of how far the area around the Middle Rhine extends, you have to know that the Middle Rhine is a 130 km long section of river between the mouths of the Nahe near Bingen and the Sieg opposite Bonn. Around 450,000 people live in the river valley, which is bordered in the north by the Bay of Cologne and the Lower Rhine, in the east by Taunus, Westerwald and Siebengebirge, by Hunsrück and Eifel in the west and the Upper Rhine Plain in the south.

About the Rhineland Region
Erbeskopf | Von Jörg Braukmann - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=63271500

The North Rhine-Westphalian part of the country boasts the Weißer Stein mountain in the Eifel, which at 689 m is the highest point in the region. The highest point in the entire Rhineland, on the other hand, is in Rhineland-Palatinate: the 816 m high Erbeskopf in the Hunsrück. The latter is also the highest German mountain to the left of the Rhine, which crosses the country from southeast to northwest and cuts up the Rhenish Slate Mountains between Bonn and Bingen.

The dialects of the Rhineland are ancient languages that date back to the first millennium of our era. However, the question of how many dialects there actually are in the Rhineland cannot be answered definitively. One thing is certain: in the North Rhine-Westphalian part of Rhineland there are six dialect areas as well as a small dialect island in the lower Lower Rhine. These are categorized according to the two most important division lines for the area between the Dutch border, Westphalia and Eifel: the Uerdingen and Benrath lines. The dialect in Rhineland is also called Platt or dialect. In Cologne they speak Kölsch.

“Rhenish music” is so complex that a definition wouldn’t really make sense. The music historians Willi Kahl and Ludwig Schiedermair see Ludwig van Beethoven's music as the epitome of the Rhenish. However, the carnival songs, which deal with wine, women and singing, are generally considered to be characteristic “Rhineland music”. This is primarily associated with the “Rhineland mentality” – cheerful nature, subtle humor and sociability.

Due to the different agricultural regions, available resources and traditions, one cannot speak of a “Rhineland cuisine”. Rather, several regional special developments can be recognized, the best known of which are the cuisines of the Lower Rhine, the Bergisches Land as well as the cities of Cologne, Düsseldorf, Bonn and Aachen.
Basically, traditional Rhenish cuisine is characterized by simple and hearty dishes, the most important ingredients of which are vegetables, potatoes, milk, meat and butter. The influence of surrounding regional cuisines such as Dutch and Westphalian cuisine is also evident. For example, the preference for herring - especially in the form of the famous Matjes herring - was adopted from the Netherlands.
The influence of the Catholic Church and church holidays is also reflected in Rhenish cuisine. This is reflected in the few meat dishes. The Rhenish sauerbraten is often served on Sundays, the “St. Martin’s geese” at Christmas and carp on New Year’s Eve.
Examples of well-known Rhenish specialties are: Bergische waffles, Halver Hahn, Kottenbutter, Krüstchen, Lieberhäuser pancakes, Panhas or Röggelchen. Depending on where you are, you can drink Kölsch, Pilsner beer, Altbier or wines from the Moselle and Rhine.

About the Rhineland Region
Annakirmes | Copyright: Von Jörg Henke - Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46541538

The carnival must definitely be mentioned in this context. It even enjoys national popularity in Cologne, Bonn, Mainz and Düsseldorf. But celebrations also take place in smaller towns and rural areas, with the entire population often taking part in the traditional parades.
Another traditional custom is the shooting festivals on the Lower Rhine and beyond. Due to the high number of participants of over 6,000 active people, the Neuss Citizens' Shooting Festival is well known. Every year, the Annakirmes takes place in Düren for nine days and is one of the largest folk festivals in the Rhineland with around a million visitors.

Last Modified: 05.02.2024