Pfalzgrafenstein

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle Stands Like A Grounded Ship On An Island In The Centre Of The Rhine River

"The Pfalz" is an ancient toll castle  which stands proudly on Falkenau Island in the centre of the Rhine River close to the town of Kaub in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany.

Shaped much like a ship with its bow pointed upstream, it is a famous landmark along the Rhine Gorge and is notable for its vibrant Baroque colour scheme.

The Pfalz Standing Proudly On Its Small Island

Pfalzgrafenstein dates back to 1326 when King Ludwig of Bavaria had the pentagonal keep built on the island. Hexagonal walls were later added around 1338 to create stronger defences for the tower.

Futher additions to the fortifications were built in 1607 and 1755. These added the distinctive turrets, the gun bastion which points upstream and the Baroque tower cap.


The Castle Courtyard 

King Ludwig originally built the castle to collect tolls from the travelers through the Rhine Gorge.

Its authority to do this was reinforced by both Gutenfels Castle and the fortified town of Kaub which were on the right bank of the Rhine nearby, all three working in conjunction with each other.

Ships were forced to stop and pay the tolls by a chain which was stretched across the river.

Those reluctant to pay were often thrown into the dungeon which consisted of a wooden float at the bottom of the castle`s well. 

The castle continued to collect tolls right up until the end of the Austro-Prussian War in 1866 when it was then acquired by the state of Prussia.

Over the centuries many of the Rhine River Castles were attacked and captured, this often led to them suffering severe damage.

"The Pfalz," like Marksburg Castle only a few miles further down the Rhine Gorge, was never captured despite the fact that its garrison would probably only have numbered about twenty men.  This is why it is in its original perfect condition.

Its unique position in the middle of the river made it virtually impregnable for hundreds of years. However not only has it resisted capture but it has also withstood the power of nature.

Floods have often raised the level of the river so that Falkenau Island is completely inundated and the water has lapped several feet high around the base of the defensive walls.

"The Pfalz" With The Wooded Slopes Of The Rhine Gorge Behind

Pfalzgrafenstein may never have been the scene of a major battle but it does have its place in European history.

On New Years Night 1813-1814 the famous German General Blücher led a force of 50,000 Russian, Prussian and Silesian troops across the river close to Pfalz Castle.

Blücher spent three days in Kaub while his army used a Russian built pontoon bridge to get the thousands of men, horses and artillery across to the far side of the Rhine to chase the French army under Napoleon out of Germany.

The apartment in Kaub in which Blücher spent those three days is now a small museum dedicated to his memory and is well worth a visit.

Nowadays it is a simple thing to cross the river to see the castle. As long as weather conditions and the state of the river permits, for a few Euros a small ferry will take you to and from the island, where you can spend an hour or so looking around Pfalzgrafenstein.

 Opening Hours -

 January - February  10.00 a.m. - 17.00 p.m. on weekends only

 March                       10.00 a.m. - 17.00 p.m. daily except Mondays

 April - October         10.00 a.m. - 18.00 p.m. daily except Mondays

 November                10.00 a.m. - 17.00 p.m. on weekends only

 December               closed


This map of the Rhine River shows the position of Pfalzgrafenstein marked with a red star -