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St. Goar


Sankt Goar (abbreviated: St. Goar) is a town in the Rhein-Hunsrück district in Rhineland-Palatinate on the left bank of the Middle Rhine. It belongs to the Hunsrück-Mittelrhein community.

Sankt Goar is known for its central location in the UNESCO World Heritage Upper Middle Rhine Valley, which was added to the list of World Heritage Sites in July 2002. Above the city is the ruin of Rheinfels Castle, opposite the sister city of Sankt Goarshausen with the castles Katz and Maus. The Loreley rock is located in the immediate vicinity of the city upstream on the other side of the Rhine.



The area around the future city of Sankt Goar was already settled in Roman times. The early medieval name was Wochara, named after the short stream that flows into the Rhine here.

The current name of the city goes back to the holy Goar, who settled on the site of the later city during the reign of the Frankish King Childebert I (511-538). Goar came as a young priest (monk) from Aquitaine (south-west France) and initially lived as a hermit in a rock cave on the Rhine. With the permission of the Bishop of Trier, he worked as a missionary to the rural population. He became known for his great hospitality, especially towards the Rhine boatmen. Later he built a hospice and a chapel on the site of today's town. Numerous legends have grown up around his figure. After his death around 575, Goar's grave became a place of pilgrimage and the place was named after him. Frankish King Pippin the Younger transferred the hospice and the chapel to the abbot of the Benedictine abbey of Prüm in 765 as a personal benefit. This gave rise to the canons of Sankt Goar, attested to at the end of the 11th century.

But there is another explanation for the origin of the place name.

“In the meantime, others wanted to claim that other writers as well as ancient documents show how this place was initially called Sanctgoar, but SANDGEWEHR or SANTGEWER. This name is also said to have its natural origin from the waterfall of Werb, which is very close by, or, as it was said of it, of the trade. Because because a lot of sand is thrown ashore in the surrounding areas by this commercial or trade, it should not be regarded as anything other than a real SANGGEWERRE, and so I communicated the name to the city. "
- Johann Hermann Dielhelm: Memorable and useful Rhenish antiquarian from 1744

Middle age
In 1183 St. Goar received city rights. From 1190 the city was under military protection and the jurisdiction of the Count House von Katzenelnbogen, the monastery governors who had taken the property. In 1245 Count Diether V. von Katzenelnbogen built Rheinfels Castle. With the death of the last Count of Katzenelnbogen, Philip the Elder, the County of Katzenelnbogen and thus Sankt Goar fell to the Landgraviate of Hesse in 1479.

Hesse and French times until 1815
On November 1, 1527, Adam Krafft, who later became professor of theology, began to introduce the Reformation on behalf of the Hessian landgrave Philip I. In 1567, after the death of Philip I, the Landgraviate of Hessen was divided among his four sons. The youngest son, Philip II, received the Niedergrafschaft Katzenelnbogen, now called Hessen-Rheinfels, and with it the castle and town.

In 1580 175 people fell victim to the plague in Sankt Goar; only 18 years later, in 1598, again 142. In the plague year of 1598, Franz Schmoll set up the Rheinfels pharmacy in St. Goar as the third pharmacy in Hesse after Kassel and Marburg. In 1635, in the middle of the Thirty Years' War, the plague took over 200 people again.

As a result of the ongoing legal dispute between Hessen-Kassel and Hessen-Darmstadt over the division of the extinct Landgraviate of Hessen-Marburg, Hessen-Darmstadt and imperial troops besieged Rheinfels and Sankt Goar for several weeks in the summer of 1626, which ultimately led to the surrender and subsequent sacking of the city led Spanish troops. From 1626 to 1647, Sankt Goar then belonged to Hessen-Darmstadt. In 1647 the troops of Landgravine Amalie Elisabeth von Hessen-Kassel conquered Rheinfels Castle and the city. On April 14, 1648, Landgrave Georg II of Hessen-Darmstadt ceded the Niedergrafschaft Katzenelnbogen with Sankt Goar "for ever" to Hessen-Kassel.


While Hessen-Kassel retained sovereignty under imperial law, rule over the county of Niederkatzenelnbogen fell to Landgrave Ernst, who moved into Sankt Goar on March 30, 1649 and founded the Hessen-Rheinfels- (Rotenburg) branch line. Landgrave Ernst ruled Rheinfels Castle, his residential palace, until his death in 1693, as a religiously tolerant, intellectually highly interested ruler who contributed significantly to the economic upswing of the city of Sankt Goar, which had to suffer from the consequences of the Thirty Years' War. In 1692, during the War of the Palatinate Succession, the castle and town were besieged by the last 28,000 French. The last storm attempt is also rejected. In 1711, Landgrave Wilhelm von Hessen-Wanfried was awarded the Landgraviate of Hesse-Rheinfels after the inheritance disputes; he called himself Wilhelm von Hessen-Rheinfels. In 1718 the emperor transferred the castle to him. In 1731 Christian von Hessen-Wanfried (named since 1711 by Hessen-Eschwege) inherited the Landgraviate of Hessen-Rheinfels and its castle. The castle was finally ceded to Hessen-Kassel in 1735. 1755 after Christian's death in 1755, the Landgraviate fell to Hessen-Rotenburg.

In 1794 the fortress was handed over to French revolutionary troops without a fight and in 1796/97 large parts of it were blown up by the engineering captains Charles and Bouiller. Until 1813 it was under French administration. In 1812 the ruins were sold as French state property to the St. Goar merchant Peter Glass. Most of the material recovered from the demolition was used in the construction of the Ehrenbreitstein Fortress near Koblenz.

From 1815: Near Prussia and Rhineland-Palatinate
Sankt Goar came into Prussian possession in 1815 according to the treaty of the Congress of Vienna and in 1816 became the district town of the Sankt Goar district, which had around 28,000 inhabitants. From 1825 onwards, with the start of steam navigation, the enlargement of the Rhine port and the construction of the railway line from 1857 to 1859, an economic upswing was achieved, but this was limited by the narrowness of the area.

In 1918, at the end of the First World War, the 5th Army withdrew from November to December over the Rhenish Pioneer Bridge between St. Goar and St. Goarshausen. After the First World War, the city was temporarily occupied by the French.

During the French occupation, a serious railway accident occurred on May 9, 1923: a passenger train, which was operating under the French occupation, derailed and fell into the Rhine. At least 29 people drowned, probably more. In the event of accidents involving directors' trains, the French crew basically prevented information from leaking out.

There were no air raids on Sankt Goar during World War II. In mid-March 1945 troop units of the US Army reached the now affected Sankt Goar. The US administration was handed over to France as the French zone of occupation in early July.

Since 1946 the city has been part of the then newly formed state of Rhineland-Palatinate. With the administrative reform in 1969, the Sankt Goar district was dissolved and assigned to the Rhein-Hunsrück district with its seat in Simmern. In addition, on June 7, 1969, the previously independent communities of Biebernheim and Werlau were incorporated. In 1972 the town of Sankt Goar was incorporated into the Sankt Goar-Oberwesel community with its headquarters in Oberwesel.

On November 21, 2012 the groundbreaking ceremony for the St. Goar model city project was set. In this project, initiated in 2009 by the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Finance, the city center of St. Goar is to be beautified. For this purpose, individual squares in the town center and the Rhine foreland are being redesigned. Most of the project costs are borne by the federal government.