The Rhine Gorge is a popular name for the Upper Middle Rhine Valley, a 65 km section of the River Rhine between Koblenz and Bingen in Germany. It was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in June 2002 for a unique combination of geological, historical, cultural and industrial reasons.
The river has been an important trade route into central Europe since prehistoric times and a string of small settlements has grown up along the banks. Constrained in size, many of these old towns retain a historic feel today. With increasing wealth, many castles appeared and the valley became a core region of the Holy Roman Empire.
It was at the centre of the Thirty Years' War, which left many of the castles in ruins. At one time forming a border of France, in the 19th Century the valley became part of Prussia and its landscape has became the quintessential image of Germany.