Mount Drachenfels (“Dragons’ Rock”, 321 m), surely the best known of the Seven Mountains that inspired poets such as Lord Byron and Heinrich Heine, welcomes you when you make a boat tour on River Rhine. You can visit the ruin of the medieval castle on top. If you don’t want to walk or you have only little time, the cog train takes to you to the top.
Walking down, there also is a lot to see. In direction to Rhöndorf, you come through the “wild forest”, direction Königswinter you see the Drachenburg Castle, the Honighäuschen (Little Honey House) and the Lemmerzbad, a public swimming pool. I’m particularly happen when I see some Drachenfels donkeys on the lawn in front of the Lemmerzbad.
With so much Rhine romanticism you may forget that Mount Drachenfels has gone through an eventful history. Already the Romans had gained trachyte from quarries on the Drachenfels: large quantities of stones were extracted transported northwards. In the Roman cities of Bonn and Cologne, even in Xanten and Nijmegen stones from the Drachenfels were used. In the Middle Ages, the quarries continued, and large parts of the cathedral in Cologne were built with stones from the Seven Mountains.
Throughout the Middle Ages, the Archbishops of Cologne were important political actors, in the Holy Roman Empire as well as in our region. But their supremacy in the region was more and more disputed by the Counts of Sayn from the south and the Counts of Berg from the north. To fortify his position, in 1140 the Archbishop gave order to build a castle on the Drachenfels. The castle on the Drachenfels was involved into various conflicts, particularly in the Late Middle Ages. Also the Counts of Drachenfels lived through heights and depths. The best known among them, Godart, was a very rich man, he had made a fortune with the trachyte from the Drachenfels. The Archbishop of Cologne was highly indebted to him, and in 1425 he had to pawn the Wolkenburg mountain with the castle on its top and the village of Königswinter to him. In 1493, Claus Count of Drachenfels was killed by his cousin Heinrich. Still today, a stone cross stands at the scene of the crime, the Kuckstein (in front of the Nibelungenhalle).
Between 1618-48, the devastating Thirty Years’ War raged all over Europe. In 1633, Swedish troops under General Baudissin conquered the Drachenfels and destroyed its outer parts. Probably shortly after they were driven away by the Spaniards. About the same time, the Löwenburg castle was destroyed. About ten years later, in 1642, the Archbishop ordered the Drachenfels castle to be demolished. After that, the Drachenfels was used as quarry.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the damages done to Mount Drachenfels had become alarming. In 1826, part of the walls of the ruin crumbled. Two years later the Prussian authorities (since the Congress of Vienna 1814/15, the Rhineland belonged to the Kingdom of Prussia) ordered all the Drachenfels quarries closed. In 1829, Mount Drachenfels was classified as historical monument and thereby put under preservation order. In 1836, the Prussian Government bought the upper part with the ruin, for its protection.