Today, Rheinfels is one of the largest ruins on the River Rhine. In 1245, Count Diether von Katzenelnbogen gave orders for the hilltop castle near St. Goar to be built. Its lively court life made the toll castle a cultural centre on the Middle Rhine in the 14th and 15th centuries. In 1479, it passed into the possession of the Hessian landgraves.
It is still possible to visit parts of the impressive and extensive mine gallery. In addition, the tunnels on the Rhine side and two forts have also survived. These few remains suffice to outline the original dimensions of the biggest Renaissance fortress on the Rhine.
In 1843, the Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm, who was to become Emperor Wilhelm I, bought the ruins but made no attempts to rebuild them. In the last century, some of the buildings were restored, and the former Fort Scharfeneck was turned into a hotel between 1970 and 1973.