Germany // North Rhine-Westphalia //

The Siebengebirge

Facing Bonn and Bad Godesberg across the Rhine, the extinct volcanic domes of the Siebengebirge are perfect mountains in miniature. None rise higher than 500m, yet the hills are steep-sided and thickly wooded enough to create a plausible impression of alpine ruggedness. Much mythologized and immortalized in song, the Siebengebirge were rescued from destruction by quarrying in the nineteenth century and now comprise one of Germany’s oldest nature reserves. There are in fact many more hills – 42 in all – than the name (which means seven mountains) would suggest, and several are topped by ruined fortresses, which merely adds to their mystique. The entire range is crisscrossed by hiking trails, including the 320km Rheinsteig long-distance path which passes through on its way from Bonn to Wiesbaden. Given their picturesque charm and very close proximity to the Rhineland’s big cities, the Siebengebirge are, not surprisingly, highly popular. Of all the hills, the most visited is the 320m Drachenfels (or “dragon rock”), which rises above the riverfront resort of Königswinter.