Rheinland-Pfalz, located in the southwestern part of Germany, is one of the country's 16 federal states or Bundesländer. The state forms a country border with France, Belgium, and Luxembourg to the south and west and also borders the states of North Rhine–Westphalia to the north, Hessen to the east, Baden-Württemberg to the southeast, and Saarland to the southwest. Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate's capital, can be found on the state's eastern borders, on the shores of the river Rhine. From a historical point of view, Rheinland-Pfalz was established only after the Second World War. For most of its history, the area was composed of numerous smaller independent states. During ancient times, a prevailing part of the Rhineland-Palatinate territory belonged to the Roman Empire, from which several monuments can be seen in the region to this day. A considerably high concentration of sites from the Roman era can be seen in the Tier city. The Rheinland-Pfalz is also connected to the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, which is nowadays considered among the most significant historical milestones, launching the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment Era. Concerning natural attractions, two national parks, several green spaces, and nature preserves are scattered across the region, providing a wide offer of outdoor recreation to tourists.
Mainz, the capital city of the Rheinland-Pfalz state, can be found on the territory's eastern border, the river Rhine. Apart from numerous cultural and historical places scattered throughout the town, such as the Höfchen, the Market Square, St. Martin's Cathedral, and others, the city is arguably most known for the inventor, printer, and publisher Johannes Gutenberg. By inventing the mechanical movable-type printing press, Gutenberg launched the Printing Revolution and moved Europe to the second modern era. The invention of the printing press led to the Age of Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution, resulting in today's age of technology. Johannes Gutenberg was born and spent most of his life in Mainz. The importance of his life work, which is presently considered one of the most important historical milestones comparable to the discovery of America, is commemorated by several landmarks, such as Gutebergplatz, Gutenberg Monument, and Gutenberg Museum, to name a few, that can be found across Mainz.
Rheinland-Pfalz belonged to the Roman Empire during ancient times. From that era, several monuments and landmarks have been preserved to this day. In the city of Tier, located in the southern part of the region, a considerable number of ancient monuments are located. Among them, the Roman Bridge, the Amphitheatre, the Barbara Baths, the Imperial Baths, and more are protected by UNESCO. Reportedly, one of the most visited places in the city is Porta Nigra, dating back to 170 AD. Porta Nigra, or Black Gate, can be found in the central region in Tier; however, originally, it was intended to be one of Tier's four gates into the city. Nowadays, Porta Nigra is one of the most preserved Roman gates to the north of the Alps.
A number of cultural and historical monuments are scattered throughout the Rhineland-Palatinate territory. The region contains an abundance of castles, such as Marksburg, Stolzenfels Castle, Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Burresheim Castle, Castle Eltz, and several more. Beyond the castles and the historical significance of the general area, several visitors also seek natural attractions. The volcanic field of West Eifel belongs among such attractions. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the Volcanic Eifel Nature Park includes 100 cinder cones and 70 maar craters created by volcanic activity. The geopark is mainly concerned with educating visitors about the environment and offering guided tours.
Rheinland-Pfalz is located in the western part of Germany, neighboring Luxembourg and Belgium to the northwest and France to the southwest. Part of the eastern natural border is represented by the Rhine river, after which the region is named. The Rhine flows through the region's capital, Mainz, and then through another significant agglomeration in the area, Koblenz. The average elevation of Rheinland-Pfalz is between 400 and 600 m above sea level. Its northern portions are covered by woodlands and fields and can be divided into four distinct regions. Located south of the Moselle River is the Hunsrück Plateau, forming the southern part of the uplands. The Taunus Plateaus constitute the eastern part. In contrast, the Eifel landscape is of the north and west, with the highest average elevation and number of volcanic craters and lakes. Westerwald stretches to the northeast, composed mainly of rounded basalt hills. The southern portion of the Rheinland-Pfalz region is composed of the Saar-Nahe Mountains and the Pfälzer Forest.
Several protected landscapes and two national parks are located within Rheinland-Pfalz borders. One of them, Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park, can be found in the central part of the region, stretching across the borders to the Saarland federal state. The main objective of the national park is "allowing nature to be nature," undisturbed from human influence. The landscape is represented by beech forests filled with deadwood, rocky terrains, the Rosselhaldens, moors, and arnica meadows. Among the unique protected species inhabiting the Hunsrück-Hochwald National Park are wild cats, black woodpeckers, and black storks. In the northwestern part of the Rheinland-Pfalz territory, an Eifel National Park has been established, which is shared among three of the following states: North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, and eastern Belgium. The local landscape is dominated by dark blue lakes, rivers and water flows, dams, and forested mountains. Apart from being a haven for wild cats and black storks, Eifel generally has clear and sparsely clouded air. For that reason, a dark sky park has been established in Eifel, attracting a considerable number of tourists and visitors, as well as layman astronomers, to watch stars.
The climate of Rhineland-Palatinate is of oceanic and humid subtropical character, with hot moist summers and mild winters. The warmest month in the state's capital, Mainz, is July, with an average daily temperature of 26°C, while January is the coldest month, with an average temperature of 4°C. February tends to be the driest month in Mainz, with an average of 40 mm of rainfall. The most precipitation falls during May, with an average of 65 mm.
Rhineland-Palatinate's earliest remains of human inhabitation can be dated back to the Stone Age, approximately 100,000-300,000 years ago. Later, During the Neolithic period, Celts and Germanic people settled extensive areas of land along the Rhine's shores. As the Roman Empire expanded, the Rheinland-Pfalz's territory was incorporated into the realm during the first century BC. Thus, Rhineland formed the northeastern border of the Roman Empire for approximately 500 years. After the end of the Roman Era, Rhineland-Palatinate's territory became part of the Frankish Kingdom, to which it belonged until the 9th century. The kingdom was divided in half, with Rhineland becoming part of its eastern section, which later became German. Rheinland-Pfalz was not united during that time, as numerous smaller independent states covered its territory. Rhenish Palatinate, the most powerful state within the region's borders, was ruled by the Bavarian aristocratic family. The territory was further divided during the 16th and 17th centuries when most of Germany was reformed and became of the Protestant faith. Numerous fights among citizens of different religions, mostly Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, and Calvinism, led to the Thirty Years' War. Later, in 1797, the areas west of the Rhine were incorporated into France, while the rest of Rhineland became part of the German Confederation, divided among Prussia, Bavaria, Hesse-Darmstadt, and Nassau.
After the Second World War, most of the territory of Rheinland-Pfalz became part of the French occupation zone. The French government was to annex the territories. However, under the influence of the USA and the UK, France established the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which would become part of Germany. During the postwar years, the state belonged among the poorest in West Germany. However, during the late 20th, significant economic growth mainly occurred in manufacturing, services, commerce, transportation, and agriculture. For most of its history, Rheinland-Pfalz has been divided into smaller independent regions. Thus, the sense of community during the postwar years was reportedly low. Nowadays, most of the inhabitants are Frankish descendants with significant French and Italian influence.
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