Situated on the Rhine River, the town of Breisach am Rhein is often called the gateway to the Black Forest. It's a popular place for cruise ships to dock; from there their passengers can visit the Black Forest, local wine towns and France's Alsace region.
ⓘ TIP: This “Breisach am Rhein” post is one of our collection of stories about taking a Rhine River Cruise.
After spending the morning touring the Black Forest, many of our shipmates spent the afternoon wandering around Breisach, visiting its cathedral and exploring its streets. We didn't, though. We signed up to take the optional afternoon trip to Colmar.
While it was everything we had expected and more, our dinner companions told us that they'd really enjoyed touring picturesque Breisach. They urged us to not miss the chance to see it.
How could we turn that down? It might be our only chance to ever see the city!
So right after dessert, we told our tired feet to stop complaining, grabbed our cameras, and headed into town.
The sun had already set and street lights lit the cobbled streets, giving everything a golden hue.
Breisach's medieval heart
We love the atmosphere that medieval towns exude, and Breisach has it “in spades.” It was a significant stronghold of the Holy Roman Empire in the 16th century and it's still very well preserved.
Once we walked through the city's ancient gates, we slowly meandered up the narrow, cobbled streets, enjoying the old homes along the way. Many of the homes sported window boxes overflowing with flowers.
St. Stephan's cathedral
At the top of the hill, we arrived at the cathedral of St. Stephansmünster. St. Stephan's dates from the 13th century, not long after Breisach became a free imperial town. Like most cathedrals it sits on the highest point, presiding over the very well preserved, heart of the city.
The doors to the church were closed at this late hour, so we walked around its exterior instead. The empty churchyard, peaceful and quiet, was dimly lit from the lamps reflecting off the cathedral's walls.
We sat there for a while, listening to the leaves rustling in the warm summer breeze. Finally, we walked over to the courtyard's waist-high wall so we could look over the edge. It offered a lovely view of the lights in the Rhine lowlands across the river.
As charming as the village was, we didn't linger to explore its shops. We preferred to remain in the past just a little while longer, savoring the lingering feeling of medieval Breisach's past.
Our stroll back to the ship was just as peaceful. Except for the occasional car passing by, the ancient stone walls and gateways made it feel like the town had been frozen in time.
Where to stay in Breisach, Germany
If you'd like to stay here overnight, Breisach City-Appartements gets good reviews. They are a 1-minute walk from the Old Town bars and restaurants, and a 10-minute walk from the Rhine.