Marksburg Castle Is Probably The Best Preserved Of All The Rhine River Castles
Marksburg is a stunningly attractive, ancient fortress located on the hillside high above the town of Braubach in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany.
This fairytale castle and the many others along the Rhine Gorge are one of the reasons for the area being made a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Marksburg Castle (By RSFoto)
The castle has retained its outstanding beauty because it was never taken by force and destroyed by an enemy, unlike the other Medieval castles along the Middle Rhine.
However, it was heavily bombarded and damaged in 1945 by American artillery firing from across the river.
The lower Keep was the first part of the fortress to be built, construction being started in 1117 by the Noble Freemen of Braubach who originally named it the "Burg Braubach." The Keep is unusually slender and looks almost fragile as it rises up above the rest of the castle.
Originally built to protect the town which nestles below it, the dominating position of Marksburg soon reinforced the authority of the citizens who collected tolls and charged customs dues from merchants and travelers along the river.
Marksburg Castle From The River (Photo by Randwill)
The Romanesque part of the castle, with its triangular layout, was built by the Lords of Eppstein who owned the fortress in its early years.
They were an immensely powerful family, four of them were Archbishops and Electors of the city of Mainz, the state capital of the Rhineland-Palatinate.However, in 1283 Marksburg Castle was bought by Count Eberhardt Ⅱof Katzenelnbogen. The Count and his descendants were one of the wealthiest families in the Rhineland.
It was they who, during the next two centuries, built the Gothic part of the castle and gave it its striking appearance.
The male line of the Katzenelnbogen family died out when the last Count passed away in 1479. Marksburg then became the property of the Landgraves of Hesse through the marriage of the Katzenelnbogen heiress Anna, to Heinrich of Hesse. It was under their family that the castle was turned into an impregnable fortress.
Rapid improvements in the firepower of artillery pieces meant that huge batteries, ramparts and outworks were needed to protect the castle. Much of the work was carried out by a member of the Hesse family called "John the Belligerent."
These exceptionally strong defences was one of the reasons that Marksburg was never seriously attacked.
During the Napoleonic Period the ownership of the castle passed into the hands of the Duchy of Nassau and the building was used as a home for disabled soldiers and as a state prison.
Then, as a result of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Marksburg Castle became the property of the Prussian state and over the next thirty years was in danger of falling into disrepair.
Marksburg, Floodlit At NightIts future as a landark along the Rhine River Gorge was secured in 1900. The German Castle Assoiation, with the help of Kaiser Wilhelm Ⅱ bought Marksburg for the sybolic price of 1000 Gold Marks. This association had been founded the previous year with the aim of preserving many of the ancient castles of Germany.
The purchase of the castle was made through the initiative of a Berlin architect and Privy Court planner called Professor Bodo Ebhardt. After the building was bought he was responsible for an extensive renovation programme of the old fortress.
This renovation was so successful that in 1931 Marksburg became the headquarters of the German Castles Association and has remained so right up to the present day.
Like many castles the world over, there is a legend associated with this famous old building. It tells the story of a beautiful, broken hearted young girl, an evil knight and the reason how the Burg Braubach came to be called Marksburg. To read the complete legend just click here.
The Great Banqueting Hall Inside Marksburg
Today, the castle is open to visitors every day of the year except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The cost of entrance is extremely reasonable but it can only be viewed as part of a guided tour.Guides show visitors around, recounting the history of Marksburg and describing what life would have been like there during the Middle Ages. Some of the tours are in English, French and Japanese. The castle also boasts a giftshop and a delightful Inn - the "Burgshänke" - where refreshments can be bought.
To reach the castle, visitors can either drive up to the large car park nearby or, if visiting the town of Braubach, take a ten minute walk up through the attractive woods. From Easter until mid-Otober a small shuttle train runs to and from the town and kids will love this journey!
Unfortunately it has to be said that the disabled, or those with walking difficulties, will not find a visit to Marksburg at all easy and it may be wise just to view it from a distance The steep slopes and numerous stairways within the castle would make it impossible for you.
However, for those that are able, a visit to Marksburg will live in the memory for a long time.
Address - (owners of Marksburg Castle)
Deutsche Burgenereingung e.V.
Phone - 0049-2627-206
Fax - 0049-2627-8866
Office - 0049-2627-536 German Castles Association
email - firstname.lastname@example.org
website - www.marksburg.de/default.htm
(You can read the website in six different languages)
This map shows the location of Marksburg in Germany