Alken, Moselle

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Alken, Germany

Alken is a picturesque village that's well worth exploring if you get the opportunity during a Mosel river cruise. Located in the heart of the Mosel Valley between Brodenbach to the south and Oberfell to the north, the village is easy to traverse on foot, giving you a chance to savour its historic architecture and quaint aesthetic.

While you could quite easily spend an enjoyable day walking the main streets, no visit to Alken is complete without taking in the impressive Burg Thurant, a late-12th century castle that looms imposingly over the city. Built on the site of a Roman hill fort by the brother of King Otto IV, the castle changed hands several times over the following years, with its owners including the archbishops of Trier.

Thurant is the only twin-towered castle on the Mosel river, and offers terrific views across Alken and the Mosel valley. Not only can visitors savour the surrounding landscape, they can also explore the castle itself. The tourist experience varies from better-known German castles; whereas the most famous historic attractions tend to be quite commercialised, with tour guides, museums and gift shops, Burg Thurant is a little more relaxed.

Although gifts can be bought at the entrance kiosk and drinks are available, the owners have more or less thrown the castle's doors open and allowed people to go where they please. What's more, whereas many castles have been decked out to look exactly as they would have hundreds of years ago, Thurant - thanks to its private ownership - has been allowed to age more naturally, making for a unique contrast in styles. Perhaps most intriguing is the pretty chapel built into the cellar, which is illuminated by a single light and a small stained glass window.

Alken, Germany

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