Rudesheim bought itself some tourist magnet back in the 1870s....with the construction of the Niederwalddenkmal (referencing Germania).
Germany fought a short but impressive war with France, and the Prussians wanted to put up an impressive memorial to the war and it's epic nature (at least what they believed). The hill overlooking the river and the valley is a scenic area....so it made sense on the selection process. They settled upon a plan in mid-September of 1871, and the project was finished twelve years later (1883).
Getting there? Well, aim for Rudesheim (either by driving, by rail, or by boat). The railway will drop you off at the end of town, and you exit the station by walking to the right and it's a eight-minute walk to the middle of the town along the river. I'd suggest the second entrance to the horse-shoe that makes up the walk around the town (not the first).
As you make this horse-shoe walk, you will come to the far north part of the town where the cable car operation will exist. Figure around seven Euro for a round-trip. Each car can hold two adults and two kids. Once you get to the top....it's a five-minute walk to the statue.
The gal on the very top of the statue? The symbol of Germania....is always supposed to be a Amazon-like gal....rather farm-gal built....with reddish-blond hair of course. She's always got a sword, a shield, and will have some item on her head to represent the Holy Roman Empire. In a number of cases, Germania will always have an eagle either with her or standing nearby.
Below the Germania-like items is the picture description of the generals and troops.....as they set upon the French and won a legendary war.
What happened after they finished the statue.....they discovered that people wanted to go up and really get close, and it's a fairly long walk. So a train-line was built and used for decades to get folks up to the top of the hill. That later got replaced by a cable-car assembly.....which was used in the 1950s. You might have noticed it in Elvis's movie based on being a G I in Germany.
As for the view of the valley? It's probably worth the whole trip as you just stand there and gaze out on the valley and the river. It'll drop your blood pressure by ten percent and is a pleasant reminder of Germany as a land of great scenic moments.
Best time to go? I'd do it on a weekday when less people are there (avoid weekends in the summer months). I'd also be picky and not go in the winter period, or when it's extremely cloudy (threatening rain). The place is open almost all year round, but it's really not pleasant to visit in the winter.
As for eating down in Rudesheim? Well...it is a tourist trap, but there are twenty different restaurants operating there.
I'd rank this episode as one of the top twenty places in Germany you ought to visit if you are there as a military member. Figure roughly half-a-day for the whole walk and statue visit. I should also note that you can pay for a one-way trip to the statue, and walk down the hill (figure 90-minutes) to make it kind of an adventure.