Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Castles in Germany on the Moselle River from Trier to Koblenz

Castles on the Moselle River from Trier to Koblenz

Data current to 15 Sep 2020.

 (Berthold Werner Photo)

Roman remains of the Imperial Thermae in Trier, dating from the 4th century AD.

Trier (Tréier), formerly known in English as Treves (Treverorum), is a city on the banks of the Moselle River in Germany.  It lies in a valley between low vine-covered hills of red sandstone in the west of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, near the border with Luxembourg within the important Moselle wine region.  Trier sits in a hollow midway along the Moselle valley, with the most significant portion of the city on the east bank of the river.  Wooded and vineyard-covered slopes stretch up to the Hunsrück plateau in the south and the Eifel in the north.  The border with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is rougly 15 km (9 mi) West.

Trier was founded by the Celts in the late 4th century BC as Treuorum and conquered 300 years later by the Romans, who renamed it Augusta Treverorum (The City of Augustus among the Treveri).  Trier is considered to be Germany's oldest city.  It is also the oldest seat of a bishp north of the Alps.  In the Middle Ages, the archbishop-elector of Trier was an important prince of the Church, who controlled land from the French border to the Rhine.  The archbishop-elector of Trier also had great significance as one of the seven electors of the Holy Roman Empire.

The first traces of human settlement in the area of the city show evidence of linear pottery settlements dating from the early Neolithic period.  Since the last pre-Christian centuries, members of the Celtic tribe of the Treveri settled in the area of today's Trier.  The city of Trier derives its name from the later Latin for earlier Augusta Treverorum.

The historical record describes the Roman Empire subduing the Treveri in the 1st century bc and establishing Augusta Treverorum about 16 bc.  The name distinguished it from the empire's many other cities honoring the first Emperor Augustus.  The city later became the capital of the province of Belgic Gaul.  After the Diocletian Reforms, it became the capital of the prefecture of the Gauls, overseeing much of the Western Roman Empire.  In the 4th century, Trier was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire with a population around 75,000 and perhaps as much as 100,000.  The Porta Nigra (Black Gate) dates from this era. 

 (Berthold Werner Photo)

Porta Nigra, best preserved Roman city gate north of the Alps, and World Heritage Site of UNESCO. 

 (Rabax63 Photo) 

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone after 170 AD.  The original gate consisted of two four-story towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side.  A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side.  For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished.  For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates.  Nonetheless, the gate was used as a town entrance for centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city.  It guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle.  The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings.  Moreover, iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse.  Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.  After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra.  After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him.  To save it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into two superimposed churches with identical floor plans.  The upper church was accessible to the monks and the lower church was open to the general public.

The church naves were created by extending the first and second floors over the inner courtyard.  An apse was constructed onto the east tower.  Additional levels and a spire were added to the western tower.  The top floor of the eastern tower was removed, and a new clerestory level was built over the nave, east tower and apse.  Windows of the western tower were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today).  The ground floor with the large gates was buried inside a terrace, and a large staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) up to the lower church.  A small staircase led further up to the upper church.  An additional gate (the much smaller Simeon Gate) was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

Roman Trier was a residence of the Western Roman Emperor.  It was also the birthplace of Saint Ambrose.  Sometime between 395 and 418, probably in 407, the Roman administration moved the staff of the Praetorian Prefecture from Trier to Arles.  The city continued to be inhabited but was not as prosperous as before.  However, it remained the seat of a governor and had state factories for the production of ballistae and armour, as well as woolen uniforms for soldiers, clothing for the civil service, and high-quality garments for the Court.  Northern Gaul was held by the Romans along a line from north of Cologne to the coast at Boulogne, through what is today southern Belgium until 460.  South of this line, Roman control was firm, as evidenced by the continuing operation of the imperial arms factory at Amiens.

The Franks seized Trier from Roman administration in 459.  In 870, it became part of Eastern Francia, which developed into the Holy Roman Empire.  Relics of Saint Matthias (died c. AD 80, chosen by the apostles to replace Judas), brought to the city initiated widespread pilgrimages.  The bishops of the city grew increasingly powerful and the Archbishopric of Trier was recognized as an electorate of the empire, one of the most powerful states of Germany.  The University of Trier was founded in the city in 1473.  In the 17th century, the Archbishops and Prince-Electors of Trier relocated their residences to Philippsburg Castle in Ehrenbreitstein near Koblenz.  A session of the Reichstag was held in Trier in 1512, during which the demarcation of the ImperialCircles was definitively established.

In the years from 1581 to 1593, the Trier witch trials were held, perhaps the largest witch trial in European history.  It was certainly one of the four largest witch trials in Germany alongside the Fulda witch trials, the Würzburg witch trial, and the Bamberg witch trials.  The persecutions started in the diocese of Trier in 1581 and reached the city itself in 1587, where it was to lead to the death of about 368 people, and was as such perhaps the biggest mass execution in Europe in peacetime.  This counts only those executed within the city itself, and the real number of executions, counting also those executed in all the witch hunts within the diocese as a whole, was therefore even larger.  The exact number of people executed has never been established; a total of 1,000 has been suggested but not confirmed.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, Trier was sought after by France, who invaded during the Thirty Years' War, the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the Spanish Succession, and the War of the Polish Succession.  France succeeded in finally claiming Trier in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars, and the electoral archbishopric was dissolved. 

St. Simeon in Porta Nigra (aka Porta Martis) in Trier, engraving from 1670.  Caspar Merian derivative work.

In 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier's numerous churches and monasteries.  On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form.  The clerestory level and church tower were deconstructed, and the inner courtyard was reinstated.  However, the apse was preserved in a d form, and the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height.  The terrace surrounding the ground floor level was removed.  

 (Lothar Spurzem Photo)

The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon.  At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate.  Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. It also has crowning cornice and parapet on its top.

Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church.  Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.  In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings.

After the Napoleonica Wars ended in 1815, Trier passed to the Kingdom of Prussia.  The German philosopher and one of the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx, was born in the city in 1818.  As part of the Prussian Rhineland, Trier developed economically during the 19th century.  The city rose in revolt during the revolutions of 1848 in the German states, although the rebels were forced to concede.  It became part of the German Empire in 1871.

In June 1940 over 60,000 British prisoners of war, captured at Dunkirk and Northern France, were marched to Trier, which became a staging post for British soldiers headed for German prisoner-of-war camps.  In 1944, during the Second World War, Trier was heavily bombed and bombarded.  The city became part of the new state of Rhineland-Palatinate after the war.  The university, which had been dissolved in 1797, was restarted in the 1970s, while the Cathedral of Trier was reopened in 1974.  Trier officially celebrated its 2,000th anniversary in 1984.

 (Berthold Werner Photo)

Electoral Palace, Trier, the residence of the Archbishops and Electors of Trier from the 16th century until the late 18th century.  It now houses various offices of the federal government and often hosts classical music concerts.  

The site of the current Electoral Palace was already part of the Ancient Roman Imperial Palace that was used by Constantine the Great in the early 4th century.  The (Basilica of Constantine or Aula Palatina,) used as the Elector's throne room, is Roman.  Some Roman mosaics also survive.  From the 11th century onward the archbishops of Trier used the Basilica, of which only the outer walls were standing, as a stronghold.  The apse was fortified to serve as a bergfried and merlons were added to the other walls.

 (Heinz L. Boerder Photo)

The Constantine Basilica in the city of Trier (Augusta Treverorum) was a Roman palace auditorium and houses the largest single room that has been preserved from antiquity.  The church is located in the middle of a 700 m long low terrace, which extends from the cathedral and Liebfrauenkirche via the palace auditorium to the Kaiserthermen in the south.

In the late 16th century, archbishop Johann von Schönenberg planned building a residence in the style of the German Renaissance for which parts of the Medieval fortress, as well as many houses, were demolished.  It was only because the Roman walls proved to be resistant that some of them were incorporated in the new structure.  Von Schönenberg's successors, Lothar von Metternch and Philipp Christoph von Sötern, completed the lower palace (Niederschloss) around 1650.  The new residence was known as Saint Peter's Castle (St. Petersburg), after the town's patron saint.  A chapel dedicated to Saint Lawrence stood on the south-west corner.  In the same period work had started on the upper palace wings (Hochschloss) but this project was halted as a result of the Thirty Years' War.  At this time, the bishops preferred their Koblenz residence at Ehrenbreitstein, which was considered safer.

From 1756 onwards, archbishop-elector Johann IX Philipp von Walderdorff, had the south wing of the Trier Palace rebuilt in Rococo style by Johannes Seiz.  Around the same time the Baroque gardens were fitted out with garden statues by Ferdinand Tietz.  In 1794 the French revolutionary armies conquered half of the Rhineland, including Trier.  The Electoral Palace was confiscated and used as a barracks.  This continued after the Prussians took over in 1814.

Around 1850 it was decided that the Basilica of Constantine was going to be rebuilt as it had appeared in the 4th century.   For that reason the west wing of the Electoral Palace (then barracks) were to be demolished.  In the original plans, the south wing would be demolished too but this was prevented as the Rococo staircase in the interior was considered monumental even then.  During the Second World War, the palace was severely damaged.  After the war only the Hochschloss was restored.  The Niederschloss was demolished except for the Red Tower and the Petersburg Gate.

Today most of the palace is in use as governmental offices.  Classical music concerts are performed in the Grand Chamber of the rococo south wing and the courtyard.  Part of the north wing is used by the Evangelical-Luthern congregation of Trier which holds its services in the adjacent Basilica.

 (GFDL Photo)

Ramstein Castle (Burg Ramstein) stands on a 182-metre-high, Bunter sandstone rock on the edge of the Meulenwald forest in the lower Kyll valley near Kordel in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

This hill castle was built in the early 14th century by the Archbishop of Trier, Diether of Nassau, as the successor to a fortified manor farm.  From then on, it was a fief castle of the Electorate of Trier, which was enfeoffed to electoral subjects and cathedral deans.  During the War of the Palatine Succession, the castle was occupied by French troops and blown up in 1689.  It was not rebuilt.  The successor to the former noble house of the castle is used today as a hotel-restaurant.

Ramstein Castle consists of an inner bailey and its associated domestic buildings on an oval area measuring roughly 37 × 57 metres.  Of the former enceinte and corner towers only a few remains have survived.  The Gothic castle is a tower house with a trapezoidal ground plan measuring 13 × 10.8 metres.  It is estimated that its outer walls, 1.35m metres thick and made of rubble stone, were once 25 metres high and had four stories.  Of the latter, only three have survived; in some place only two are left; the maximum height is 18 metres.  On the inside of the walls, holes for the former ceiling beams and the remains of seat niches and chimneys can be made out.  The embrasures are made of grey and red sandstone quarried locally.  Most of the tower windows have Gothic trefoil surrounds.

The 1.55-metre-wide and 2.45-metre-high entry portal on the west side of the tower is very well preserved.  It is separated from the outer bailey by a 4.70-metre-wide throat ditch.  This probably used to be bridged by a wooden drawbridge.  At one time entry from the outer bailey was from a stone staircase hewn in the rock, traces of which can still be seen.

The tower stories can be reached via a helical staircase in two round staircase towers made of hewn rock (Haustein) on the northeast corner and the outside of the south wall near the main entrance.  On the ground floor is the largest fireplace of the house, which is why it is believed that this was where the kitchen was.  There are 3 other fireplaces on the first floor, which used to be divided into too halves by a timber-framed wall.  Perhaps the private living rooms of the lords of the castle were here.  The second floor had a single large hall, which was presumably used for festivals, receptions and meetings.  Fireplaces are missing on the third floor, indicating this was likely the servants accommodation. 

In the early 10th century, Archbishop Radbod of Trier had a fortified house (municiuncula) built on a rock near Kordel on the site of an older predecessor building (edificium), and pledged it c926 to his vassal Vollmar for life.  This manor house of an agricultural estate was the predecessor of the present Ramstein Castle and is referred to in the records as Runnesstein  or Castrum Ruynstein.  The present name of the site did not appear until around 1600.

Until the beginning of the 14th century there is no further record of the castle complex, because it was not until this time that Diether of Nassau, Archbishop of Trier began work on a castle here, whose construction lasted from 1300 to 1307.  The castle was thus located on the Roman road from Trier to Andernach and not far from the old Roman road from Trier to Cologne.  However, the castle had to be finished under Diether's successor, Baldwin of Luxembourg.  The exact date of its completion not known, but it can be assumed that the building work was completed in 1317, because Baldwin sealed a deed at the castle that year.  By 2 July 1310 he had transferred the still unfinished building to his confidant and teacher, John of Bruch (Johann de Bruaco) as a fiefdom.  John was a cathedral dean in Trier, and the feudal treaty provided that, from now on, the respective holder of this office should always be the feofee of Ramstein Castle.  However, this provision was not complied with.

The construction of the castle did not proceed without controversy.  The knightt, Arnold of Pittingen, a high Luxembourg nobleman and his representative, Vogt of Butzweiler, objected to the building of the castle.  He took his case to the Roman-German King, but Archbishop Baldwin was able to prove that Ramstein had been built on archiepiscopal land.  Although records of the outcome of the trial have not survived, it is likely that Arnold lost his case 13 March 1310, as Baldwin continued the expansion of the castle soon afterwards.

In 1328, John of Fels (Johann von der Fels) and his wife, Jutta of Reuland, and Jutta's son from their first marriage, William of Manderscheid, each received half of Ramstein Castle as a fief. Baldwin, however, reserved right of access (Öffnungsrecht).  Both the married couple and William pledged their shares several times during period that followed.

Baldwin's successor, Boemund II of Saarbrücken, transferred the castle on 1 July 1358 to his Palastmeister and Schöffenmeister, Johann Wolf, on the condition that he kept it in good order and employed enough guards to secure it.  Only a short time later, Archbishop Cuno II of Falkenstein, enfeoffed Ramstein to the Abbess of Trier monastery of St. Irmina, Irmgard of Gymnich.  From 1402 onwards, she was followed by the cathedral canon and chorbishop, Rupert of Hoheneck, as vassal.  He, too, was required to maintain the castle and had to undertake to live there himself.

Some time after Rupert's death in 1417, Bernard of Orley occupied the castle, claiming ownership.  As a result, Archbishop James I of Sierck had Ramstein Castle besieged.  The dispute was finally settled by an arbitration court, which ruled in favour of the Archbishopric.  The castle had suffered from the prolonged conflict and was in a bad condition.  However, as the necessary financial resources were lacking, the damage was not repaired for the time being and the buildings gradually deteriorated.  It was not until 28 May 1488, when Chorbishop Dietrich of Stein was given the lifetime fee of Ramstein that renovations took place.  He had the castle rebuilt in accordance with the stipulations of the feudal agreement.  After Dietrich's death in 1500, Henry of Hartenrode succeeded him that yea.  Archbishop John II of Baden appointed him the lifelong Burggrave of Schloss Rumstein.

In the 16th century, Archbishop and Prince-Elector Richard von Greiffenklau zu Vollrads probably lived in the castle himself.  He solved the problem of water supply by building a clay pipe from a forest spring to the castle.  The so-called "Brunnenstein", a memorial stone that commemorates this event, is still preserved today and is exhibited in the foyer of the inn situated within the castle grounds.  The inscription reads, "RICHART GRIFFENCLAE VONN VOLRACZS ERTZBISCHOFF ZW TRIER VUN CHOERFVUERST HAIT MICH THOEN DRINGEN VSZ DIESSEM FILSCHEN SPRINGEN ANNO XV XXVII [(1527)]".

The archbishop was succeeded by cathedral dean, Bartholomäus von der Leven as the owner from 1578 onwards.  Afterwards, the estate went as a fiefdom to the cathedral deanery, and remained so until it was seized as part of Napoleon's secularization drive at the beginning of the 19th century.  The deans, however, did not live in Ramstein Castle themselves, but had them managed and administered by a courtier (Hofmann; Lat.: villicus).

During the Franco-Dutch War, Ramstein ended up in French hands for a year from 1674 until it was liberated by imperial troops.  Afterwards the castle was further fortified.  Warlike conflicts during the War of the Palatine Succession finally put an end to Ramstein Castle.  On 18 September 1689, it was set on fire by French soldiers and two corners were blown up.  Since then it has been a ruin.  After the destruction of the tower house, the Hofmann moved into the farmhouse belonging to the castle estate, which had already burned down on 19 April 1675.  It was subsequently rebuilt and destroyed by another fire in 1786.  The then lord of the castle, cathedral dean, Anselm of Kerpen, planned the rebuilding of a larger house, but since the costs estimated by the architect were too high, it was rebuilt on the old, surviving foundations.

After the occupation of the Rhineland by the French under Napoleon, the ruin was confiscated and, in the course of the secularisation, auctioned on 13 December 1803, to Trier lawyer, Wilhelm Josef Fritsch, for 9,000 francs On 30 November 1826, Fritsch's heirs sold the castle to the Trier brewer, Franz Ludwig Bretz (also Britz), whose son Nikolaus opened a restaurant there in the 1870s.  His descendants still own the castle and run a fifth-generation hotel-restaurant there.

The first restoration work was carried out in 1928.  The eastern wall of the castle was strongly reinforced.  In the summer of 1930, safety measures were carried out on the crown of the wall.  Towards the end of the Second World War, however, the ruin suffered heavy damage from artillery fire and had to be repaired and made safe in 1987.  The castle of Ramstein can be visited by appointment as part of a guided tour (contact the Society for the Preservation of Ramstein Castle - Förderverein Burg Ramstein ).  (Michael Losse: Die Mosel. Burgen, Schlösser, Adelssitze und Befestigungen von Trier bis Koblenz. Michael Imhof, Petersberg, 2007)

 (F. baumgarten Photo)

Ramstein Castle ruin.

 (Meulenwald Photo)

Quinter Castle is a baroque castle on the left side of the Moselle in the Trier district of Quint.  c1760 it was built using posts originating from Lorraine family Pidoll.  Quint Castle is a three-wing baroque complex, the wings of which enclose a rectangular courtyard.  The fourth side of the courtyard is closed off by a low wall with a Gothic iron grating.  In 1825 it replaced a previously existing, higher wall.  In the middle of the grille is a gate with two cast iron griffins on the pillars.  They come from the same period as the iron grating.

The name Quint is derived from the Latin ad quintum lapidem (at the fifth milestone ) and thus refers to the location on the Roman road from Trier to Andernach.  In 1683, the former Lorraine officer, Franz Pidoll and his father-in-law Jean Pierre de Thier founded an ironworks on the Quiintbach river, which flows there, shortly before it flows into the Moselle, from which the Quinter Hütte later emerged.  On 18 May 1714, Emperor Charles VI, Franz Pidoll with the name "Pidoll von Quintenbach", came into the hereditary nobility.  Either he himself or his son Johann Franz had today's castle built in between 1735 and 1760, as a residential and administrative building for the ironworks.  The plans for this may have come from the Electorate of Trier court architect Johannes Seiz, who was possibly supported by the sculptor Ferdinand Tietz.

After French revolutionary troops occupied Trier in 1794, the occupiers expropriated the possesions of the von Pidoll family and closed the ironworks.  However, operations were resumed in 1808. The symmetrical arranged baroque garden of the castle underwent a transformation to an English landscape garden in the second half of the 19th century.  The former Walzweiher was included in the redesign.  This happened when the family of the ironworks owner Heinrich Adolf Kraemer was the castle owner.  She still owned the facility in the 20th century.  Klöckner Werke AG operated a factory for cast-iron stoves on the castle grounds in the 1950s.  The former buildings of the iron and steel works were demolished in the early 1980s, and in their place a new building area was built.  The castle building, which had fallen into disrepair when the plant closed, was extensively restored in the 1980s and then used by the Institute for Labor Law and INdustrial Relations in the European Community (IAAEG) from the University of Trier.  When it moved out in 2003, the building was left empty.  From time to time art exhibitions were held there.  A community of owners had the castle managed by a company.  In 2011, the property was sold to a construction company and a Luxembourg investor who wanted to transform Quint Castle into condominiums as well as offices and medical practices.  (Michael Losse: The Moselle. Castles, palaces, aristocratic residences and fortifications from Trier to Koblenz. Michael Imhof, Petersberg 2007)

 (JS Lonscet Photo)

Föhren Castle (Schloss Foehren).  Former moated castle was the seat of the imperial counts of Kesslestatt from 1445.  The castle was built in the 13th century and transformed into a Baroque residence in 1663.  Today's buildings with a three-story corner tower mostly date from the 16th and 17th centuries.  The castle park displays garden art of the early 18th century.  The castle is privately owned and is not open to the public.

 (JS Lonscet Photo)

Föhren Castle, main entrance.

 (Dkvtig Photo)

Veldenz Castle (Schloss Veldenz) is a castle ruin about 1.5 kilometres (0.9 mi) southeast of the village of Veldenz in the Rhineland-Palatinate, in the county of Bernkastel-Wittlich.  It stands on a hill spur, roughly 320 metres (1,050 ft) above sea level and 180 metres (590 ft) above the level of the Mosel.  It is on the slopes of the Hunsrück in a side valley of the Moselle in the Veldenzer Bach.  The town of Bernkastel-Kues is 4 kilometres (2.5 mi) northeast, the county town of Wittlich is about 15 kilometres (9 mi) northwest, and the nearest city is Trier, 31 kilometres (19 mi) southwest.

The first written reference to the castle was in the year 1156 (possibly a few years earlier). Frederick I (Barbarossa) confirmed the holding of the castle by Bishop Albert I of Verdun, together with the surrounding land.  Since the 12th century, the Counts of Veldenz have been the feudal lords of the land and the castle, which became centre of the Country of Veldenz.  In 1286 Rudolf von Habsburg granted Veldenz city and market charters.

In 1444 the castle and surrounding area came into the possession of the counts of Pfalz-Zweibrücken when the  Veldenz male line died out.  They and their successors remained in possession of the castle and county until the year 1694.  During the Thirty Years' War and 150 years later the Palatinate Succession War, the castle was occupied by Swedish, Spanish and French troops.  In 1681, the castle was destroyed.  In the following years, the owner moved and often used the ruin as a quarry.  Over time it belonged to the Electorate of the Palatinate and Bavaria.  SIt has in private hands since 1807, and is now owned by the Haufs-Brusberg family.

In the 15th century the site was the largest castle in the Central Moselle.  This fact would appear to explain the German term Schloss in the name which is still used today.  At the same time it distinguishes it from the castle Nohfelden known in German as Burg Veldenz.  The extensive ruins of the spur castle were structurally secured and partly rebuilt in the 19th century.  They stand on a high hill spur that drops away steeply on three sides.  They are almost 100 metres (330 ft) long and 30 metres (98 ft) wide.  On the main defensive side in the north and similarly on the southern flank there is a powerful bastion. The bergfried in the east was not rebuilt, in contrast to the palas with its distinctive stepped gable, which is now used as a restaurant.  (Alexander Thon/Stefan Ulrich, "Von den Schauern der Vorwelt umweht...". Burgen und Schlösser an der Mosel, Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner 2007)

 (Dkvtig Photo)

Schloss Veldenz, interior.

 (Dkvtig Photo)

Veldenz Castle, showing the Torburg and the upper castle gate that separates the main castle in front from the rear of the castle.  
There is a fire bastion in front of it, with a small smooth-bore muzzle-loading cannon outside the entrance.

(Sb2s3 Photo)

Landshut Castle is a ruin above the town of Bernkastel-Kues.  In June 2012 unusually massive remains of a Roman fortification (fort) were found during routine work on the outer fortification (the so-called Zwinger) of Landshut Castle ruin.  Archaeologists date these remains, which were integrated into the medieval buildings, into the late 4th and early 5th centuries.  

The newly discovered wall remains on the castle hill in the Bernkastel district are significantly older than the castle built by Heinrich von Finstingen c1276, which can still be visited today. They are also of much earlier origin than their two predecessors, which were destroyed or grinded in 1017 and 1201 respectively.  Based on the results to date, a rectangular fortification measuring around 60 x 30 metres can be reconstructed, into which five or six almost square towers were integrated.
These towers are very unusual in their construction and can hardly be connected with Late Antiquity or even the Middle Ages. They can only be compared with late Roman castles such as those found in Ludwigshafen or Passau.  Two glass and ceramic finds suggest that the walls date from the late 4th or early 5th century.  The finds of a stone axe made of clay slate and handmade shards suggest even pre-Roman use.

Landshut Castle is one of 19 late Roman mountain fortifications above the Moselle have been traced and confirmed.  It probably did not serve as a refuge, but was part of a military concept.  In the Moselle valley - at regular intervals - a whole chain of mountain fortifications was built, both to protect the Moselle - which was very important as a waterway - and the new imperial residence in Trier.  The initiator was of these fortifications was Emperor Constantius I (293-306).
The castle in Bernkastel was only partially overbuilt by the medieval core castle - the ruins of which we can still see today. Therefore it is the first mountain fortification in the Moselle valley whose circumference and ground plan is exactly known.

In the cosmography of the "geographer of Ravenna" the anonymous author writes:"...The places Trier, Neumagen, Bernkastel, Karden and Koblenz are also located on the Moselle...". It was written in the early 8th century, but the geographer used older sources and probably describes the state of the world before the year 496.  In the Latin translation of the original Greek text it says instead of Bernkastel: "Princastellum". This would have to be interpreted as "primum castellum" as the "first castle" - and named after the later Bernkastel.  The newly discovered castle is one of the few places in the region where an ancient name can be associated with a specific site.
The impressive size of the mountain fortifications suggests that the settlement under the castle hill was also very large.  The age of Bernkastel-Kues must be backdated almost 1000 years in light of these new discoveries.  The other Roman finds in the Bernkastel-Kues area, e.g. the "Roman winepresses" in Erden, Piesport or Neumagen-Dhron, also speak for a large population at that time. 

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Aerial view of Burg Landshut.

 (Peulle Photo)

Burg Landshut.

 (Pardin Photo)

Landshut Castle Burghof interior.

 (Pardin Photo)

Landshut Castle.

 (RubenKoman Photo)

Mont Royal Fortress (Festung Mont Royal), a gigantic fortress now in ruins.  It was built in 1687 by the French Sun King Louis XIV's master builder Vauban.  It stands on a peninsula mountain high above Traben.  This fortress could accomodate 12,000 men and 3,000 horses.  In 1698 it was destroyed by the French themselves after the Peace of Rijswijck.  In the last century, under the direction of the home designer Dr. Ernst Willen Spies, excavations were carried out on Mont Royal and restoration work has begun based on original plans from the Paris archives. Only a few original portions of the remains of the mighty walls, casemates and vaulted cellars are preserved.  Plans and excavation finds are shown in the Middle Moselle Museum.  Visitors can explore the fortress ruins.  During the season there are regular guided tours through the former fortress, individual tours are offered for groups.

"There is nothing more beautiful than the fortress on the Moselle which fortifies the French borders, and which will ensure that the Electors of Cologne, Trier, Mainz and the Palatinate will continue to be so dependent that this border will, in future, be better and more easily defendable than the border to Flandres," wrote Loivois, War Minister to the Sun King full of enthusiasm in a letter dated 18 May 1687 after his first inspection of the future location of the Mont Royal fortress.

Mont Royal belonged to the northern cordon of fortresses which safe-guarded the French border from the English Channel through to Luxembourg, Strasbourg and Basel at the end of the 17th century.  For a decade, it fulfilled its function as an indispensable basis of operation for the Rhine army of King Louis XIV.  These mighty fortifications enclosed not only the entire area of the peninsular mountain of Traben, but also surrounded the walled city of Trarbach and, on the other side of the river, Grevenburg Castle which had been fortified by Vauban. 

The main fortress covered 50 hectares (about 123 acres) of land situated approximately 200 meteres (about 650 feet) above the Moselle river and was enclosed by the main ramparts which were up to 30 metres (nearly 100 feet) high and 3 kilometres (nearly 2 miles) in length.  It was reinforced by 5 bastions and three fortified towers and protected by numerous outworks.  South of the fortress was the Grand Royal Headquarters, an entrenched camp with barracks for 12,000 men and stables for 3,000 horses, a mercantile settlement and a small town with its own court of law.  By 1690, the fortress garrison included 14 regiments and its armoury, and depots housed ammunition and supplies for a complete army, making it twice as powerful as the smaller fortresses of Saarlous and Luxembourg.  Hence, Mont Royal was not only the largest stronghold of its time, but was also one of the 9 fortified "new towns" which were designed and built from scratch in the period between 1679 and 1698, according to plans drafted by the great architect Vauban.  According to the church records of Mont Royal, which have been preserved until today, an independent, multicultural community developed on the mountain, although the lifetime of this fortress city was notably short.

The fate of Mont Royal was directly linked to the military conflicts which took place during the war of Palatine Succession, and to King Louis' vision of establishing a continuous, natural line of demarcation to the east of his kingdom.  The ceding of the reunited territories brought this dream to an abrupt end.  After the Peace of Ryswick, King Louis XIV ordered the fortress to be demolished in the spring of 1698.
Thanks to Dr. Ernst Willen Spies, a specialised local historian, the Mont Royal fortress has not completely faded into obscurity. Between 1929 and 1938, he supervised comprehensive excavations based on the original plans found in military archives in Paris.  However, the ruins which, during the 1930s had impressively borne witness to the former greatness of this fortress, were subsequently abandoned to further decay for many years.  Flourishing vegetation encroached on the stonework and, coupled with erosion, threatened to destroy it completely.  Due to a newly awakened interest in maintaining and restoring castles and fortresses as witnesses to an eventful history and as evidence to European cultural heritage, Mont Royal, too, has now become a noteworthy tourist attraction on the banks of the Moselle river.  (EventBabel)

Ground plan of Mont Royal Fortress, c1693.

Mont Royal Fortress illustration, ca 1693.

Mont Royal Fortification ground plan, 1693.

 (Steffen 962 Photo)

Grevenburg was a castle in Traben-Trarbach in the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  The castle was formerly the residence of the Rear County of Sponheim and today is a ruin following its destruction by the French in 1734.  The castle was built in 1350 by the Count Johann III of Sponheim-Starkenburg and replaced Castle Starkenburg as the residence of the Rear County of Sponheim.  With the extinction of the ruling male line of the Rhenish branch of the House of Sponheim in 1437, the castle became seat of the bailiff of the new Counts to Sponheim (Baden and Palatinate-Simmern, Palatinate Zweibrücken and Palatinate-Birkenfeld.

In 1680 it was conquered by Louis XIV of France, and was extended, together with the fort of Mont Royal in the horseshoe bend of the Moselle north of the town of Traben-Trarbach, as a part of the fortifications.  During the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), in 1702 it was taken by the French under Taillardin and in 1704 on the express orders of the commanding officer John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough it was overpowered by Friedrich das Wehrschloss.  The badly damaged castle was then occupied by the Dutch.  In 1730 it was repaired by the Electorate of Tfrier for the defence of Koblenz and the Rhine river.  In the War of the Polish Succession, it was taken after a siege of three weeks, for the fourth and last time by the French who destroyed it in July 1734.  The castle was blown up, and huge chunks of it have plunged into the valley beneath.  Of the castle today, although only the western wall of the former keep remains, the foundations are largely intact.

Gravenburg, illustration, 1669.

Gravenburg, illustration, 1734.

Ground plan of Grevenburg, 1734.

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Aerial view of the ruins of Gravenburg.

 (Muck Photo)

Starkenburg Castle was erected c1065 to protect the estates around Lorsch Abbey, which itself were held by the Prince-Archbishopric of Mainz from the 13th century onwards.  Built on Schlossberg mountain, which measures 295 metres and towering above Heppenheim’s picturesque old town, Starkenburg Castle, is one of the oldest castles to be found in the western Odenwald region.  At first, it served as a stronghold named “Burcheldon” (castle mountain).  It resembled a Roman fort, which consisted of simple wooden constructions, towers, earthworks and bulwarks.

King Frederick entrusted the Archbishop of Mainz with Lorsch Abbey and Starkenburg Castle in 1232.  Under the rule of the Electoral Mainz, the castle was reconstructed into a late medieval fort castle.  1675 – 1689, Archbishop-Elector of Mainz Anselm of Ingelheim pushed the castle’s reconstruction.  It was designed to be a fortress complex and a place of agricultural production, storage and administration.  It was designed imitating the French model.

1765, the Mainz occupying troops were withdrawn and the castle was released to be demolished and parts of the castle fell victim to demolition.  The keep of the romantic castle ruin had to be torn down in 1924 due to its ruinous state.  It was rebuilt in a different design in the entrance area.  The residential building was also reconstructed, however, in a modern design.
Later, a further new building was constructed, a Jugendherberge (youth hostel). With 121 beds and 5 seminar rooms, it offers excellent conditions for a comfortable stay in romantic surroundings.

 (Lone Islander Photo)

Aerial view of Starkenburg Castle.

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Castle Arras (Burg Arras) is a hilltop castle built in the early 12th century in Alf on the Moselle River in the Rhineland-Palatinate Cochem-Zell.  A fortified Roman horse station existed on this site in late antiquity on the site of the later hilltop castle, similar to other sites in the Eifel and Hunsrück.  After the withdrawal of the Romans, little evidence remained of it for several centuries.  

Arras Castle was first mentioned in writing in 1120, when it appeared in a document as " castrum atrebatum " on the occasion of the consecration of the castle chapel.   Late medieval legends tell of the castle being built at the time of the Hungarian invasions.  The legend suggests that the castle was begun c936, but this can not be proven.   The castle appears again in written records c1140.  On the occasion of a division, several buildings are named, including a gate, the chapel and a fountain, which were used jointly, as well as the curtain wall, a moat and a tower, built under the direction of Count Friedrich I von Vianden.

The castle was initially owned by the Count Palatine and later by the Archbishops and Electors of Trier.  After it was conquered by the Lords of Entersburg in 1137, Archbishop Albero successfully besieged it and won it back for the Electorate of Trier.  The knight family von Arras had their residence at the castle Arras from 1179, when Hermann von Harras, Vogt von Eller, was informed in a deed that he was the owner of the castle.

On 2 October 1439 Ludwig Zandt von Merl, Vogt in (Zeller) Hamme, was enfeoffed by Archbishop Raban with a fief of the castle in Arras.  In another document dated 16 October 1439, Ulrich von Metzenhausen also received part of the Arras Castle as a fief instead of his sick father Johann.  In 1493 Heinrich von Metzenhausen testified that he had also been enfeoffed with part of the Arras Castle by Archbishop Johann II.

In October 1689, during the War of the Palatinate Succession, the French garrison of the nearby fortress of Mont Royal destroyed Arras Castle.  Only the keep withstood all attempts to blow it up.  In October 1794, the administration appointed by the French revolutionary troops declared the ruins and the associated lands to be state property.  The decision to sell them was only implemented after 1815, after the former Electorate of Trier territory passed to Prussia.

In 1826 Ferdinand Remy acquired the castle ruins and the 70 hectare forest connected with them from the Bendorfer industrial family of the same name.  After Remy's death, his three daughters inherited Arras Castle, which they sold to the winery owner Barzen from Alf around 1850.  In 1895, the mine director Traugott Wilhelm Dyckerhoff from Herne, bought the ruins and had the castle rebuilt from 1907 onwards.  The monument protection authority of the then Rhine province approved the reconstruction, including the keep and the remnants of the wall.  The construction plans for this came from the Trier church builder Peter Marx (1872–1952).  Dyckerhoff was buried on the castle grounds.  This was possible because a documented, castle-specific burial law had existed since the Middle Ages, which was officially confirmed in 1952.  In November 1938, Dyckerhoff's heirs sold the castle to Ernst Rademacher, art dealer from Bochum († 1979), and the judge Dr. Jur. Theo Homburg († 1985).  In 1954 they had the annex of the so-called cavalier wing rebuilt.

In 1978 and 1984, the married couple Maria and Otto Keuthen (1926–2009) from Briedel, acquired the castle and set up a hotel and a restaurant in it.  There is a memorial room in the castle museum for Keuthen (1885–1981), the nephew of Wilhelmine Lübke-Keuthen.  The room is part of the estate of Federal President Heinrich Lübke (1894–1972), including a wall hanging from the possession of Madame de Pompadour, which the French President Charles de Gaulle had given Lübke in the 1960s.  In Heinrich Luebke house, his birthplace, there are other memorabilia on display.  In addition, the museum shows armaments and weapons as well as archival material from Kurtrier's large private collection of old Moselle views with around 200 pictures.

The keep has a rectangular floor plan and is 20 meters high.  It was a defence and residential tower dating from the Salian period (10th to 12th centuries).  The walls of the tower are four meters thick and made of carefully layered masonry.  Originally it only had a high entrance on the upper floor, which led to the upper floor of the residential building.  This opening is walled up today.  Under the tower there is a cistern with a capacity of 3.6 m³, which was fed with rainwater from the roofs.  This was necessary because of the 34 meter deep castle well which stands outside the walls.  The keep may date from the middle of the 13th century, likely under the direction of Archbishop Arnold II (1242 to 1259).  The two-story castle dungeon was located under one of the wall towers and is still well preserved today.

 (Rolf Kranz Photo)

Arras Castle.

 (Muck Photo)

Entersburg, also known as Nantersburg, is an medieval spur castle northeast of Hontheim in the district of Bernkastel-Witttlich in Rhineland-Palatinate.  The castle was probably built before 1096, by the Lords of Nantersburg, and destroyed in 1138 by the Archbishop of Trier, Albero von Montreuil.  It is unknown whether the castle was rebuilt.  However, it was named "Entersburg" in 1335, together with the nearby towns of Huntheim (Hontheim), Grintkamp (Krinkhof?), and Wispelscheit (Wispelt),  in a deed between the Trier elector Balduiin and the knight Cuno von Ulmen mentioned again

Celts and Romans had previously built fortifications of the grounds of the castle ruins.  An edge fortification using wood-stone-earth technology from the Iron Age enclosed an inner area of around 1.3 hectares.  In several excavation cuts, pre-Roman wall remains were found on the north, east and south sides, which indicate a Celtic fortification.  Based on ceramic and metal finds, the complex can be assigned to the later Latène period (3rd to 1st century BC). Celtic coins, including Treveri potin coins have been found on the site.

In the second half of the 3rd century AD, a Roman fortification was built on the highest point of the plateau.  The area of the fence was smaller than the Celtic system.  The masonry made of broken slate was 1.20 meters thick.  Later, not before the second quarter of the 4th century, a large burgus was added on the northwest tip.  It was approximately 10 by 10 meters and its foundation walls were greater than two meters.  It probably served as additional protection for the fortifications and to control the Roman road running about 600 meters northwest of the watchtower, which led from Trier to Andernach Among the Roman finds were two bronze sculptures (one is a winged cupid and the other is a bust of Minerva).  From the coin finds it can be deduced that the Roman complex was abandoned in the middle of the 4th century.

Remains of another surrounding wall and the foundations of the palace uncovered from the era of medieval Nantersburg.  It is a two-part bent room around 30 meters long and 10 meters wide.  The walls were 1.10 to 1.50 meters thick and made of hewn slate stones.  Roman spoilss were also used in the construction.  There were two entrances on the south side.  Coins, ceramics and other items from this period were also been found.  To the northwest of the medieval castle complex and outside the Roman fortification wall were two short section trenches carved into the rock.  The inner trench shows a U-shaped cross-section and reached a depth of 1.50 meters.  The dating of these trenches was not determined.  Today the Steffenswarte, a lookout tower shown above, built in 1895, stands on the small oval summit plateau, south of the medieval palace as a reminder of the location of the castle.

 (Rolf Kranz Photo)

Metternich Castle is an ancient castle in the Rhineland-Palatinate.  It is also known as the Beilstein Castle (Beilstein Burg), due to its location in Bielstein.  The castle, now in ruins, is located in the municipality of Beilstein on the river Moselle.  The history of the castle goes back to 1268 when the castle (referred to as Bilstein Castle) was first mentioned.  It is thought the castle is even older, with some historians indicating 1129 as the year of construction.

In 1268 a "castle called Beilstein" was first mentioned in a document.  It was owned by Johann von Braunshorn, a fiefdom holder of the Archdiocese of Cologne. After the von Braunshorn family died out in 1361 with the death of Gerlach without a male successor, the property came into the possession of his grandsons Kuno and Gerlach von Winneburg in 1363 .

The castle survived the turmoil of the Thirty Years' War with occupation by Swedish and Spanish troops largely unscathed.  After the von Winneburg family died out, the castle came into the ownership of the von Metternich family in 1637, from whom the castle still takes its name.  In 1689, the castle was destroyed by French troops in the Palatinate War of Succession and was never rebuilt.  The last owner of the Metternich line was Prince von Metternich, until the French occupied the Rhineland in 1794.  The last member of the family to own the castle was Klemens von Metternich, one of the most famous diplomats of the Austrian Empire.  He was the foreign minister from 1809 to 1848.  After several changes of ownership, the castle ruins are now in the hands of the Sprenger-Herzer family .

The castle complex is quite extensive with a size of about 80 × 50 meters.  Access is from the north through several kennels The partially preserved ruins of various residential buildings suggest that the castle was inhabited by several families at the same time as a Ganerbenburg in the Middle Ages The ruins are dominated by the 25-meter-high pentagonal keep, the point of which is directed towards the south-facing flank that is most vulnerable to attacks, the mountain spur, which rises even higher.  The keep survives and can be climbed buy visitors.  In the extensive ruins of the managed castle there is a restaurant with a beer garden.  The castle can be visited daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from April to the beginning of November.  (Stefan Ulrich: Arras, Beilstein, Bernkastel, Cochem and Thurandt. Observations on some Moselle castles.  Castles and Palaces. Journal for Castle Research and Monument Preservation. 49, Issue 3, 2008)

Metternich Castle c1643, Marian illustration.

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Bielstein on the Moselle River.

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Metternich castle, Bielstein on the Moselle River.

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Cochem is the seat of and the biggest town in the Cochem-Zell district in Rhineland-Palatinate.  With just over 5,000 inhabitants, Cochem is Germany's second smallest district seat.  Since 7 June 2009, it has belonged to the Verbandsgemeinde of Cochem. 

Construction of the former Cochem Imperial castle was possibly begun in the 10th century or about 1020, expanded in 1051 and in the earlier half of the 14th century.  The Reichsburg Cochem had its first documentary mention in 1130.  In 1151, it was occupied by King Konrad IIII, who declared it an Imperial castle.  Its medieval keep dates from the earlier half of the 11th century and its surrounding fortifications date from the 14th centry.  In 1688, the castle was overrun by French King Louis XIV's troops in the course of the Nine Years' War (known in Germany as the Pfälzischer Erbfolgekrieg, or War of the Palatine Succession), and the following year, they destroyed it.  The castle complex lay in ruins for a long period, it was bought in 1868 by the Berlin businessman Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené for 300 Goldmark and then reconstructed in the Gothic Revival style between 1874 and 1877.  Since 1978 it has been owned by the town of Cochem and is administered by a company named Reichsburg GmbH.

Cochem lies at an elevation of some 83 m above sea level and the municipal area measures 21.2 km2.  The town centre with the outlying centre of Sehl upstream lies on the Moselle's left bank, while the constituent centre of Cond lies on its right.  A further constituent centre, Brauheck, with its commercial area, air force barracks and new town development, lies in the heights of the Eifel on Bundesstrasse 259, some 2 km (1 mi) from the town centre.  Emptying into the Moselle in Cochem are the Kraklebach, the Ebernacher Bach, the Sehlerbach, the Falzbach, the Märtscheltbach and the Enthetbach.

Cochem was settled as early as Celtic and Roman times.  In 886, it had its first documentary mention as Villa cuchema.  Other names yielded by history are Cuhckeme and Chuckeme in 893, Cochemo in 1051, Chuchumo in 1056, Kuchema in 1130, Cuchemo in 1136, Cocheme in 1144, then Cuchme, and into the 18th century Cochheim or Cocheim.  Cochem was an Imperial estate.  It was pledged by King Adolf of Nassau in 1294 to the Archbisopric of Trier, and remained Electoral-Trier territory until the French occupation began in 1794.  The town of Cochem and its castle were held by the Archbishops of Trier beginning in 1298. 

In 1332, Cochem was granted town rights, and shortly thereafter, the town fortifications, which still stand today, were built.  Between 1423 and 1425, the town was stricken with a Plague epidemic.  In 1623, Elector Lothar von Metternich brought about the founding of a Capuchin monastery.  In the Thirty Years' War, the town was besieged, but not conquered.  In 1689, King Louis XIV's troops burnt the Winneburg (castle), and then conquered the town of Cochem and its castle as well.  Reconstruction was long and drawn out.  Beginning in 1794, Cochem came under French rule.  In 1815, it was assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia at the Congress of Vienna.

Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené bought the ruin of the former Imperial castle in 1866 and began its reconstruction.  Only after a bridge was built across the Moselle at Cochem in 1927 were the two fishing villages of Cond and Sehl amalgamated with the town in the course of administrative reform in 1932.  This bridge, called the "Skagerrak Bridge", was dedicated on 23 January 1927.  During the Second World War, great parts of Cochem's old town were destroyed.  Also during the war, the operations staff of the underground subcamp of Zeisig of the Natzweiler concentration camp between the villages of Bruttig and Treis was located here.  At its height, 13,000 people were imprisoned there.  They provided slave labour under brutal conditions, for Bosch, which made spark plugs, ignition systems, and glow plugs, which were important to the German war effort.  Since 1946, Cochem has been part of the then newly founded state of Rhineland-Palatinate.

 (Dietmr Rabich Photo)

Cochem Castle.

 (Dietmr Rabich Photo)

Cochem Castle.

Cochem in 1646, Matthäus Merian.

 (Dietmr Rabich Photo)

Cochem Castle.

 (Peter Thonnes Photo)

Enderttor.  Town wall (monumental zone), was begun in 1332, reinforced in 1675.  Parts of the wall have been preserved and include the medieval Enderttor (gate), built after 1352, as well as the Alter Torschänke dating from 1626, the Kirchgasse town wall gate dating from the 14th century, the town wall at the Capuchin monastery/graveyard with its Balduinstor (Baldwin's Gate) and further wall remnants including the Martinstor (Martin's Gate) or Mäuseturm (Mice's Tower).

 (Thomas Kramer Photo)

Winneburg Castle, also called Winnenburg, is the ruin of a hill castle on the territory of the city of Cochem on the Moselle.  The castle lies in the Eifel well 80 meters above the valley of the Endertbach, which flows only about 2.5 kilometers southeast to the city of Cochem in the Moselle.  The castle was built in the second half of the 13th century. It was mentioned for the first time in 1304 as the property of a professor of WunnenbergWirich von Wunnenberg. 

In the centuries that followed, the castle complex was steadily expanded while remaining within the ownership of the Lords of Wunnenberg (later Winneburg).  After this noble family died out in 1637, the castle passed to the family Metternich.  In 1689, the castle was besieged by the French troops during the Palatine War of Succession (also known as the Nine Years' War).  Following its capture, the castle was blown up by the French troops.  In 1832 Klemens Wenzel Lothar von Metternich bought the castle ruins, but a reconstruction did not take place.  Since 1932, it has been owned by the town of Cochem.

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Winniberg castle entrance.

 (Peter Thonnes Photo)

Winneberg Castle bergfried.

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Aerial view of Winneberg castle ruins.

 (Klaus Graf Photo)

Balduinseck Castle ruin, built beginning in 1325 by Archbishop Baldwin of Luxembourg, finished about 1332, by 1780 in disrepair, parts of the courtyard wall renovated in 1966; castle courtyard with mighty residential tower, bailey with partial moat.  The castle stands near the town of Buck, an Ortsgemeinde in the Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis district in Rhineland-Palatinate. 

Buch is first mentioned in a document dated to 1052.  In 1332, Louis the Bavarian acknowledged to Archbishop Baldwin of Trierr all the holdings of the Archiepiscopal Foundation of Trier, among which were Balduinseck (castlee) and Buch.  Buch belonged to the Beltheim court.  Until the late 15th century, it is known that there was a knightly family named “von Buch”.  Beginning in 1794, Buch lay under French rule.  In 1815 it was assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia at the Congress of Vienna.  Since 1946, it has been part of the then newly founded state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  

 (Achim Berg Photo)

Kastellaun Castle (Burg Kastellaun) is a ruined medieval castle in Kastellaun in the Rhein-Hunsrück district in Rhineland-Palatinate.  The ruins of the castle stand on the a hill above the town and are connected to the former wall of the town.  Constructed in the 13th century, the castle is first mentioned in 1226 as Kestilun, a possession of the Count of Sponheim.  In 1301 it was the residence of Simon II, Count of Sponheim-Kreuznach.  In 1321, Archbishop Baldwin of Trier besieged the castle.  In 1325 he built the neighbouring Burg Balduinseck as a challenge to Sponheim.

After Walram of Sponheim-Kreuznach abandoned Kastellaun in 1340, the castle was administered by bailiffs and burgmänner.  The line of the counts of Sponheim subsequently died out and the castle was passed along with its title to Bernhard II, Margrave of Baden and Count Friedrich of Veldenz, who ruled jointly in a "condominium".  The last Count of Veldenz died in 1444 and his share of the rulership passed to his son-in-law Stefan, Count Palatine of Simmern-Zweibrücken.  This drew the Rear County of Sponheim into the Palatine sphere of influence, involving it in war and the possession of the Palatinate.

In 1594 Edward Fortunatus retreated to Castle Kastellaun after losing the Margravate of Badenb, and the castle became a residence again.  During the Thirty Years' War, from 1618 to 1648, the castle was occupied.  In 1689, during the War of the Palatine Succession, in 1689, the castle was destroyed by French troops and was not rebuilt.  In 1820 the ruins came into private hands.  In 1884 the municipality of Kastellaun bought them and made the first repairs to stabilise them.  From 1990 to 1993 the hill and the ruins there were cleaned up.  The lower castle and access were restored.

The castle consists of an inner and outer baileys.  The inner ward includes the remains of the defensive bergfried, the enceinte and two residential buildings.  The older east building dates to the 14th century; excavations in 1990-93 uncovered its cellar.  The ruin on the west side of the inner bailey that can be seen from far away is what remains of the east end of the palas and the adjacent rectangular powder tower.  Both of these buildings were probably built no earlier than the 16th century.  On the east side, facing the town, there is a secondary defensive wall or zwiinger.  In the outer bailey, two modern buildings now stand on old foundations.  Originally, entry to the castle was by way of a gate tower in the north corner.  The current entrance is modern.

The former palas (residential building with the great hall) is used as an open-air stage for theatrical performances.  Restaurateurs now operate in the castle cellars and parts of the new buildings constructed on old foundations in the lower castle during 2006-07.  They offer among other things medieval-style feasts.  Large numbers of visitors are attracted to the ruin.

On 9 September 2007, a documentation centre was dedicated in the lower bailey.  It issues a pamphlet on the most important events in the region from early times to the present.  On the ground floor, in a "House of Regional History", the primary stages of the Celtic and Roman past of the Kastellaun region are displayed.  A reconstruction of the wagon burial discovered in Bell in 1938, remains of Celticc pottery, fibulæ and jewellery, and a model of a Roman legionary's helmet convey an impression of how these ancestors once lived.  The first floor depicts the life of the knights and nobility in castles in Hunsrück during the Middle Ages.  On the upper floor are models and information about the former Pydna missile base and the Hunsrück peace movement as well as the current usage as a federal defence installation and festival site (Nature One).  (Hubert Leifeldt, "Burg Kastellaun - Neue Forschungen zu einer Sponheimischen Burg im Hunsrück", in Olaf Wagener (ed.), Die Burgen an der Mosel. Akten der 2. Internationalen Wissenschaftlichen Tagung in Oberfell an der Mosel, Koblenz 2007)

Kastellaun, drawing, 1646, Matthäus Merian.

 (Klaus Graf Photo)

Kastellaun bergrfied.

 (Edgar El Photo)

Kastellaun.

 (Labradormix Photo)

Coraidelstein Castle (Burg Coraidelstein), is a ruin that stands above the town of Klotten.  It appears to have been founded by Count Palatine Herman I, who is mentioned in documents dated to 996.  The castle went through an important expansion in 1338, and other documents state there was a “new structure on the fortifications at Klotten” built in 1545, never destroyed.  It was sold for demolition in 1830, although some of its ruins are still preserved.  These include a Romanesque keep with Gothic casing, a castle house with a round tower, a side building, a manor house in the southeast built in 1543-1547 with remnants of three round towers, and a villa from 1905.  The remains were renovated in 1955.

 (Madinn Photo)

Rauschenburg, also called Rauschenburg Castle (Burg Rauschenberg), is the medieval ruin of a hill castle, located at around 250 metres above sea level, above the Ehrbach stream in the parish of Mermuth in the county of Rhein-Hunsrück-Kreis Rhineland-palatinate.  In 1332 the Archbishop of Trier, Baldwin of Luxembourg, built the Rauschenburg during the Eltz Feud.  It acted as a counter castle designed to defeat his opponents, the joint tenants of the castles of Waldeck, Schöneck and Ehrenburg, who were rebelling against their vassal status.  Later tenants of the castle, which was enfeoffed by the Archbishopric of Trier, was divided among several families, including the Schönecks, von Eichs, Waldbott of Bassenheim and Boos of Waldeck.

The castles comprises a pentagonal enceinte. Almost the entire site was surrounded by a second lower defensive wall.  On the uphill side was a ceck ditch cuts across the s addle and would have formed the first obstacle to any attack.  The remains of the gateway and foundations of the bridge may still be seen there.  In the inner bailey are the ruins of residential buildings.  In the centre of the western part of the enceinte are the remains of a tower, perhaps the old bergfried.  In addition, the site is accessed via two surviving gates.  A third gate in the southeastern section of the outer wall was probably wall up in the Middle Ages.  (Alexander Thon/Stefan Ulrich, "Von den Schauern der Vorwelt umweht...". Burgen und Schlösser an der Mosel, Regensburg: Schnell & Steiner, 2007)

The Rauschenburg, built on a polygonal ground plan, occupies the end section of a mountain spur sloping from south to north in the angle between Ehrbachtal and Mermuther Bachtal.  On the elevated eastern side of the approach to the castle is an approximately 10 m high and 1.40 m thick shield wall, which is preceded by a kennel and the neck ditch.  Access was from the east via a bridge over the neck ditch to the first gate in the Zwingermauer and a round arched second gate in the shield wall.  In the northern part of the courtyard, small remains of a residential building have been preserved on the east side (6.60 mx 21 m).  The beam holes in a floor ceiling and the remains of a chimney are clearly visible.  On the west side of the inner bailey are the remains of a round donjon.  The water supply to the castle was ensured by a cistern of approx. 4 mx 5 m in the slate rock.  (Jens Friedhoff)

Ground plan of the Rauschenburg.

Schloß Schöneck is a castle which stands on a rock outcrop in the Ehrbach Gorge in the borough of Boppard in the Husrück mountains.  Schöneck was built around 1200 by imperial ministerialis, Conrad of Boppard, as an imperial castle.  His descendants called themselves the Lords of Schöneck and lived at the castle until they died out in 1508.  The family had several lines, who lived jointly at the castle (making it a Ganerbenburg).  It was from Schöneck that the district known as the Gallscheider Gericht was administered.

In the Eltz Feud of 1331–1336, the castle was part of the protection and defence league of rebel knights against the Archbishop of Trier and Elector Baldwin of Luxembourg.  The castle became an enfeoffment of the Electorate of Trier in 1354.  In 1488 Schöneck was occupied by troops of the Count Palatine during the Beilstein War (Beilsteiner Krieg) and, later, returned to the Electorate for a short time.

From 1508 onwards, the castle changed hands several times, but remained a Trier fief-castle.  Between 1560 and 1646 Schöneck became the fief of a side line of the Lords of Eltz.  Between 1646 and about 1677 Schöneck belonged to the so-called Sötern fee tail, a foundation for the management of the estates of the von Sötern family.  The mastermind of this arrangement was Archbishop Phillip Christopher of Sötern.  After being enlarged with Baroque wings in the mid-17th century, Schöneck became known as Schloss Schöneck.

In 1805 the site went into private hands.  In the time that followed several new buildings were added.  Between 1846 and 1848 a milk spa (Molkenkuranstalt) was operated there for a while.  In 1912 the artist, Wilhelm Steinhausen, bought the site.  Since 1922 it has been owned by a family foundation.  Schloss Schöneck now consists mainly of buildings from the 19th and 20th century.  Its medieval elements include its division into an upper and lower baileys.  Medieval structures include the cellars and supporting walls, towers and part of the enceinte.  On the uphill side are the remains of a neck ditch.  (Alexander Thon, Stefan Ulrich: "Von den Schauern der Vorwelt umweht …" Burgen und Schlösser an der Mosel. Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg, 2007)

 (Jörg Lechner Photo)

Schloss Schöneck.

Drawing of Schloss Schöneck.

Ground plan of Schloss Schöneck.

 (Internet)

Schloss Schöneck.

 (Jergen Photo)

Waldeck Castle within the limits of the village of Dorweiler in Dommershausen in the Rhein-Hunsrück disctrict in Rhineland-Palatinate, was the main seat of the Hunsrück family of Boos.  The ruin stands high above the Baybach valley.  William I of Heinzenberg built the fortress in 1150 and, in so doing, established the "Boos-Waldeck" family which was later to become widespread.  This medieval castle endured several wars, and was partially destroyed by the French in 1689 during the course of the Nine Years' War, known in Germany as the War of the Palatine Succession (Pfälzischer Erbfolgekrieg). The castle was used until 1833 when the family of Boos von Waldeck sold its holdings in the Rhineland.

The first documentary mention of a castle in the vicinity of today's ruins dates to the year 1243.  In that document, the knights – Heribert, Udo (Rudolf) and Winand (surnames Boos von Waldeck, Boose of Walthecce), pledged their castle to the Elector of Cologne, Konrad von Hochstaden, who in turn enfeoffed them.  Around 1250, Rudolf (Udo) Boos von Waldeck built the lower bailey and both wards are mentioned in a document in 1285.

The archbishop authorized the family to act as landlords of the area, through commercial contracts with Cologne, thus establishing the aristocratic line of the family that endured until 1833.  This main seat would be the central administration of mills, offices, and the residence for barons, counts, and noble visitors during the summer.  Political connections through deals, commerce and military control against the French guaranteed almost six hundred years of influence.

The surname Boos is related to ancient mediaeval German words meaning "lead", "nobleman", or "angry", possibly used to indicate the residents of the castle, hence the name variation "Castle of Boos-Waldeck" seen in some documents.  In French it is cited as the castle of "Bois Walthecce" or "Boosse de Walthecce".

Below, nearer the valley, the lower bailey was established, possibly to enclose the houses of the joint owners of the castle.  It is possible that the lower ward had been built around 1250 by the aforesaid Rudolf (Udo).  Some documents mention both wards of the castle in 1285.  The remnants of the lower bailey were only rediscovered and identified as such in recent years when the land was surveyed.

With the new building of the comital-Palatine tower, the castle now consisted of three parts: a new tower that had been built over the previous two wards (today the so-called upper bailey) and two lower baileys: the old upper (now lower bailey) and the old lower bailey.  (Hotte Schneider (ed.): Die Waldeck. Lieder, Fahrten, Abenteuer. Die Geschichte der Burg Waldeck von 1911 bis heute. Verlag für Berlin-Brandenburg, Potsdam, 2005)

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Treis Castle, also called Treisburg, is a castle ruin in the municipality of Treis-Karden on the Moselle in the district of Cochem-Zell in the state of Rhine-Palatinate.  It is located 30 kilometres south-west of the city of Koblenz.  The ruins of this hill castle stand on a mountain spur surrounded by the streams Flaumbach and Dünnbach flowing from the Hunsrück mountain range, approximately 70 metres above their confluence.  Wildburg, is located about 150 metres to the south on the same spur, separated by a depression.  Castle Treis is located at an altitude of 157 meters above sea level, and about one kilometre south of Treis, a little above the MoselleValley.

The exact date of the castle's construction is unknown; Treis Castle may have been built as early as in the second half of the 11th century.  The first reliable record of Treis Castle dates back to 1121.  That year, Emperor Henry V destroyed a castle at Treis, built by Otto I, Count of Salm.  In 1148, Treis castle was held by the Count Palatine of the Rhine, Herman III of Stahleck.  In the course of a dispute over the office of Count Palatine between Hermann III and Otto I, Treis Castle came under influence of the diocese of Trier.  Ultimately, the Archbishop of Trier, Albero de Montreuil conquered Treis Castle, making it property of the diocese. 

It appears that during the 12th and 13th century, the castle would have been controlled by the Archdeacon of Karden.  In the late 13th century, there is clear evidence for the castle being owned by the Electorate of Trier, and thereby being under direct control of the Archbishop.  Successively, members of various noble houses became notable as bailiffs or Burgmannen of Trier in Treis: Freie von Treis, the Lords of Pyrmont, the Lords of Winneburg-Beilstein, and the Lords of Eltz.

During the War of the Palatine Succession in 1689, Treis Castle was been destroyed by French troops, and was not rebuilt.  Since the 1950s, private owners have secured the ruins and rebuilt the castle keep.

The present-day appearance of the ruins are dominated by a mighty square keep, which was elevated by one floor and roofed during restoration works, re-instating its original appearance.  In addition, remains of other buildings and the curtain wall are preserved.  Access to Treis Castle is restricted.  (Norbert J. Pies: "Die Frei von Treis und ihre Verwandten". Mit einem Beitrag von Markus Sausen. Erftstadt-Lechenich 2011)

Ruins of Treis on the left and the Wildberg on the right as they appeared in 1910.

Ground plan of Treis Castle.

 (Wolkenkratzer Photo)

Aerial view of Treis Castle, left and Wildberg, right.

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Wildburg Castle is a restored castle complex in the municipality of Treis-Karden on the Moselle in the district of Cochem-Zell in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  It is located 30 kilometres south-west of the city of Koblenz.  This hill castle stands on a rampant, wooded mountain spur surrounded by the streams Flaumbach and Dünnbach flowing from the Hunsrück mountain range, and approximately 85 metres above their confluence.  It is neighboured by Treis Castle, located about 150 metres to the north on the same spur, separated by a depression.  Wildburg Castle is located at an altitude of 165 metres above sea level in a side valley to the Moselle, and about one kilometre south of Treis.

The exact date of construction of Wildburg Castle is unknown, but it may have been built as early as in the first half of the 11th century AD by Count palatine of the Rhine, Otto I, Count of Salm.  The original sources are not clear if these dates refer to the Wildberg, or Treis Castle.  Wildburg Castle likely served in the 13th or 14th century as a seat of the Lords of Wildenberg, related to the descendants of the Lords of Braunshorn.  After the lineage died out c1400 AD, the Electorate of Trier seized the castle as a vacant fief.  For the following centuries, Wildburg Castle was held by various owners on behalf of Trier, amongst them the Lords of Miehlen, the Lords of Burgtor, and the Lords of Eltz.

Wildburg Castle was destroyed by the French in 1689, during the War of the Palatine Succession.  Treis Castle and many other castles on the left bank of the Rhine were also destroyed at that time.  At this point it had lost its strategic significance and was not rebuilt.  In 1956 its ruins, along with those of Treis Castle, were acquired by private owners, and Wildburg Castle was restored for residential use.

Wildburg Castle has been preserved since the early 1950s and partially rebuilt for residential use.  The northern, almost square castle keep has been built-up to its original height and re-roofed.  The hall along with several annexes and other buildings have been rebuilt and made habitable for residential use.  Remains of other buildings and the curtain wall have been preserved and form part of today's castle garden.  Currently, Wildburg Castle is inhabited and can only be viewed from outside.  (Markus Sausen: Das Huß genannt Wildenburg – Die Geschichte der Treiser Wildburg, in: Von „Häckedetz unn Stifthere“. Geschichte und Geschichten von Treis-Karden Band 7. Treis-Karden 2016)

Ground plan of Wildburg Castle.

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Pyrmont Castle (Burg Pyrmont) stands west of Münstermaifeld near Roes and Pillig on a slate rock outcrop above a waterfall on the Elzbach in the southern Eifel mountains.  It is on the parish of Roes in the county of Cochem-Zell.  This rock castle was built at the end of the 12th century on count palatine territory by Cuno of Schönburg, whose son Cuno II called himself "Lord of Pyrmont", the first member of his family to use the title.  The castle is first recorded in 1225.

In 1441, Cuno VI of Pyrmont, laid down by his will and testament how his inheritance (and thus also Pyrmont Castle) should be divided between his three quarrelsome sons, Henry VI, John and Frederick, in order to protect the ancestral seat of the dynasty from division by inheritance.  This did not prevent the brothers from fighting over the castle after their father's death.  Henry VI of Pyrmont had the Reichsacht imposed on him as a result of the inheritance dispute and the administration of his share of the castle was transferred to his brother Frederick.

The castle did not witness more peaceful times until the second half of the 15th century, when Emperor Maximilian I elevated Henry IV, Lord of Pyrmont, to the status of a Freiherr.  Although his marriages were blessed with two sons, his daughter, Elisabeth, was eventually to inherit the Pyrmont estate.  After she married Philip of Eltz, the castle fell to this important comital dynasty.  The Eltz family did not always agree on the distribution of their inheritance.  In 1652, one of the Eltz heiresses sold her share to members of the family of Waldbott of Bassenheim, because of the ongoing disputes who, two years later, were appointed imperial Freiherren thanks to their ownership of this estate.  In 1695, another Eltz share in Pyrmont Castle went to the Electorate of Trier and it was also acquired by the Waldbott of Bassenheim family in 1710.

In 1712, the Waldbotts began to convert the medieval castle into a prestigious schloss.  The palas was increased in height to three stories and fitted with large windows.  The present perron, on the south side of the castle, dates to this period.  In 1789, during the French Revolution, the owners fled from French troops to their estates on the right bank of the Rhine, and just five years later the castle was seized as French national property.  She suffered the fate of many castle estates west of the Rhine: in 1810, she was auctioned off by the French, with seven hectares of land, for 4,550 francs.  Its new owner, Franz Georg Severus Weckbecker from Münstermaifeld, sold everything of any value.  The remains of the buildings then gradually deteriorated.

In 1818, Count Friedrich Waldbott von Bassenheim bought back the castle.  Under his son, Count Hugo Waldbott, it was forcibly auctioned in 1862.  Many owners were to follow him, but none rebuilt the ruins.  Only the family of the architect, Franz Krause, who worked as a draughtsman for The Art Monuments of the Rhine Province, made part of the dilapidated castle complex habitable again from 1912 onwards.  However, there was a lack of money for further major restoration.

In 1963, two Düsseldorf architects, Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petschnigg, bought the remnants of Pyrmont Castle.  After its purchase, they began with safety work and a gradual reconstruction, especially of the inner bailey.  In 1990, the castle grounds were opened to visitors.  In the interior rooms, old furniture and furnishings can nowadays be seen, which fill the rooms with history and partly recall the former owners of the castle.  There is a souvenir shop in the rebuilt outer bailey.

The irregular, rectangular castle was built in the typical style of the Staufer period.  The 24.5-metre-high round bergfried is of the donjon type and was the first of its kind in the entire Middle Rhine region.  It has two vaults, several fireplaces and can be climbed and used as an observation tower.  It also has a conical roof.  In its shadows is a 49-metre-deep castle well (Sodbrunnen).  

A l5th-century zwinger with round towers guards the inner bailey.  A deep neck ditch separates the inner bailey and zwinger from the outer bailey, which has been rebuilt as part of the restoration.  The zwinger was once occupied by residential and domestic buildings, of which only the large storage cellar (Fuderkeller) has survived.  Under the modern administrative building is the old north gate, which was the main entrance until the castle was expanded after the 15th century.

The inner bailey, built on the rocks high above the zwinger, consists of the formerly three-storied palas, the attached cookhouse and the bergfried.  When the castle was remodelled in the baroque style from 1712, the palas and cookhouse were given roofs that reached to the top of the bergfried.  The facades were standardised in the baroque style with the insertion of new windows. The palas and cookhouse have only been restored with two storeys and a flat roof.  The remains of the third story recall that the castle was a ruin for a long time.

The ground floor of the palas has an entrance hall, the great hall (Rittersaal) and smaller rooms; the remains of the castle chapel adjoin it.  On the ground floor of the cookhouse, a kitchen has been built to the same dimensions as the historical one.

The 18th-century castle garden, which was clearly never finished, lies below the castle, supported by dry stone walls and containing a fish pond.  On the south and west hillside are traces of the vineyards which were cultivated until the 18th century.  (Matthias Kordel: Die schönsten Schlösser und Burgen in der Eifel. Wartberg, Gudensberg-Gleichen, 1999)

 (Túrelio Photo)

Burg Pyrmont.

 (Wolkenkratzer Photo)

Aerial view of Burg Pyrmont.

 (Francisco Conde Sánchez Photo)

Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz) is a medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier.  It is still owned by a branch of the same family (the Eltz family) that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago.  Bürresheim Castle, Eltz Castle and Lissingen Castle are the only castles on the left bank of the Rhine in Rhineland-Palatinate which have never been destroyed.

The castle is surrounded on three sides by the Elzbach River, a tributary on the north side of the Moselle.  It is on a 70-metre (230 ft) rock spur, on an important Roman trade route between rich farmlands and their markets.  The Eltz Forest has been declared a nature reserve by Flora-Fauna-Habitat and Natura 2000.

The castle is a so-called Ganerbenburg, a castle belonging to community of joint heirs.  This is a castle divided into several parts, which belong to different families or different branches of a family; this usually occurs when multiple owners of one or more territories jointly build a castle to house themselves.  Only wealthy medieval European lords could afford to build castles or equivalent structures on their lands; many of them only owned one village, or even only part of a village.  This was an insufficient base to afford castles.  Such lords usually lived in "knight's houses", which were fairly simple houses, scarcely bigger than those of their tenants.  In some parts of the Holy Romain Empire of the German Nation, inheritance law required that the estate be divided among all successors.  These successors, each of whose individual inheritance was too small to build a castle of his own, could build a castle together, where each owned one separate part for housing and all of them together shared the defensive fortification.  In the case of Eltz, the family comprised three branches and the existing castle was enhanced with three separate complexes of buildings.

The main part of the castle consists of the family portions.  At up to eight stories, these eight towers reach heights of between 30 and 40 metres (98 and 131 ft).  They are fortified with strong exterior walls; to the yard they present a partial framework.  About 100 members of the owners' families lived in the over 100 rooms of the castle.  A village once existed below the castle, on its southside, which housed servants, craftsman, and their families supporting the castle.

Platteltz, a Romanesque keep, is the oldest part of the castle, having begun in the 9th century as a simple manor with an earthen palisade.  By 1157 the fortress was an important part of the empire under Frederick Barbaross, standing astride the trade route from the Moselle Valley and the Eifel region.  In the years 1331–1336, there occurred the only serious military conflicts that the castle experienced.  During the Eltz Feud, the lords of Eltzer, together with other free imperial knights, opposed the territorial policy of the Archbishop and Elector Balduin von Trier.  The Eltz Castle was put under siege and possible capture and was bombarded with catapults by the Archbishop of the Diocese of Trier.  A small siege castle, Trutzeltz Castle, was built on a rocky outcrop on the hillside above the castle, which can still be seen today as a few ruined walls outside of the northern side of the castle.  The siege lasted for two years, but ended only when the free imperial knights had given up their imperial freedom. Balduin reinstated Johann again to the burgrave, but only as his subjects and no longer as a free knight.  In 1472 the Rübenach house, built in the Late Gothic style, was completed.  Remarkable are the Rübenach Lower Hall, a living room, and the Rübenach bedchamber with its opulently decorated walls.

Started in 1470 by Philipp zu Eltz, the 10-story Greater Rodendorf House takes its name from the family's land holding in Lorraine.  The oldest part is the flag hall with its late Gothic vaulted ceiling, which was probably originally a chapel. Construction was completed around 1520.  The (so-called) Little Rodendorf house was finished in 1540, also in Late Gothic style. It contains the vaulted "banner-room".  The Kempenich house replaced the original hall in 1615.  Every room of this part of the castle could be heated; in contrast, other castles might only have one or two heated rooms.

In the Palatinate War of Succession from 1688 to 1689, most of the early Rhenish castles were destroyed.  Since Hans Anton was a senior officer in the French army to Eltz Üttingen, he was able to protect the castle Eltz from destruction.  Count Hugo Philipp zu Eltz was thought to have fled during the French rule on the Rhine from 1794 to 1815.  The French confiscated his possessions on the Rhine and nearby Trier which included Eltz castle, as well as the associated goods which were held at the French headquarters in Koblenz.  In 1797, when Count Hugo Philipp later turned out to have remained hidden in Mainz, he came back to the reclaim of his lands, goods and wealth.  In 1815 he became the sole owner of the castle through the purchase of the Rübenacher house and the landed property of the barons of Eltz-Rübenach.

In the 19th century, Count Karl zu Eltz was committed to the restoration of his castle.  In the period between 1845 and 1888, 184,000 marks (about 15 million euros in 2015) was invested into the extensive construction work, very carefully preserving the existing architecture.  Extensive security and restoration work took place between the years 2009 to 2012.  Among other things, the vault of flags hall was secured after it was at risk of partially collapsing walls and the porch of the Kempenich section.  In addition to these static repairs, almost all the slate roofs were replaced.  Structural problems were remedied in the ceiling and wood damage was repaired.  In the interior, heating and sanitary facilities, windows and fire alarm system were renewed, and also historic plaster was restored.  The half-timbered facades and a spiral staircase were renovated at the costs of around €4.4 million.  The measures were supported by a €2 million grant from an economic stimulus package provided by the German federal government.  The state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the German Foundation for Monument Protection and the owners provided further funds.

The Rübenach and Rodendorf families' homes in the castle are open to the public, while the Kempenich branch of the family uses the other third of the castle.  The public is admitted seasonally, from April to October.  Visitors can view the treasury, with gold, silver and porcelain artifacts and the armory of weapons and suits of armour.

From 1965 to 1992, an engraving of Eltz Castle was used on the German 500 Deutsche Mark note. 

(de Fabianis, Valeria, ed. (2013). Castles of the World. New York: Metro Books)

 (Sokrates2609 Photo)

Burg Eltz.

 (Haribert Pohl Photo)

Burg Eltz.

 (Derzno Photo)

Burg Eltz.

 (Johannes Dörrstock Photo)

Burg Eltz, morning view.

 (Maddin Photo)

Ehrenburg is the ruin of a spur castle at 230 m above sea level in the vicinity of Brodenbach.  The castle had a very eventful history.  It was built on a rocky spur in the valley of the Ehrbach, a side valley of the River Moselle.  Once the fortified heart of a small imperial barony, with estates between the Lower Moselle and Middle Rhine, it is today a cultural monument that hosts numerous events.

The Ehrenberg was probably already owned by the church in Trier in the Early Middle Ages, for use as a place of refuge and defence for the people.  The oldest surviving parts of the present Ehrenburg - the upper bailey - are the remains of a fortified house, a rectangular residential tower house.  The first half of the 12th century is believed to be when this initially very small Hohenstaufen castle was built.  In 1161, the castle is mentioned for the first time as Castrum Eremberch in a deed of slighting by Frederick I, also known as Frederick Barbarossa.  This document confirms the renunciation of the rights to two churches in the Archbishopric of Trier and to participation in the administration of the city of Trier by his younger half-brother, Count Palatine Conrad of Hohenstaufen.  His opponent, Hillin of Falmagne, Archbishop of Trier, was by way of compensation given the Ehrenburg, which was important for guarding the crossing over the Moselle between Brodenbach and Hazenport.  The castle also protected the surrounding imperial estate as a sub-fief to the count.  This complicated legal arranging which was intended to deal with many disputes, existed until the demise of the electorates of Palatinate and Trier at the end of the 18th century as a result of Napoleon's invasion of Germany.

The likely builders of the castle, the Lords of Ehrenberg, Dienstmänner, or vassals of the Cologne and Trier Church and the Rhenish counts Palatine, appear as witnesses for the first time in 1189.  The castle became the site of a Ganderbenschaft, or joint inherited tenancy and was divided among two or three families over the generations.  The Ehrenberg coat of arms was azuere, a bend or.  From the mid-13th century, a second, younger family (the Frederick line) bore a coat of arms in which the gold bend was accompanied by small crosses and, from around 1480, by golden lilies.

In 1331 the imperial ministeriales who occupied the castles of Waldeck, Schöneck, Eltz and Ehrenburg formed an alliance.  During the Eltz Feud, they fought against the territorial policy of the Elector of Trier, Baldwin of Luxembourg, who was trying bring peace and stability to an unsafe area in which the knights were becoming lawless.  Five years later the two sides agreed to a treaty, the Eltz Atonement, and the knights had to recognize the sovereignty of the Electorate of Trier in return for being granted burgrave status and becoming hereditary peers.

In 1397 the last Ehrenberg knight became involved in another feud with the Elector of Trier, Werner of Falkenstein, and destroyed over 200 houses in the city of Koblenz.  In a counter-campaign, the castle was besieged by the citizens of Koblenz and a cannon was deployed (which was still rare at that time).  A year later, John of Schönberg was enfeoffed with the castle and barony.  In 1426 he was followed by Cuno of Pyrmont and of Eherenberg, in 1526 by Philipp Eltz, in 1561 by the lords of Quadt of Landskron and in 1621 by the House of Hoensbroech (Dutch: Van Hoensbroeck).  In the course of the Thirty Years' War, Spanish troops occupied the castle from 1640 to 1651.  In 1668 the Ehrenburg was enfeoffed to the Freiherrn of Clodt.

On 1 November 1688, French troops under King Louis XIV, occupied the castle during the War of the Palatine Succession and, a year later, blew up parts of the site.  The castle chapel survived and was not abandoned until the following century.  After the male line of the Ehrenbergs died out in the late 14th century, the castle was no longer the long-term residence of hereditary castellans (Burgherren).  For the castellans that followed, the castle and barony of Ehrenberg was only a part of their fief and their estate.  The last imperial knight and castellan, the Freiherr Benedict of Clodt, Lord of Landscron, Ehrenberg, Hennen, Grimberg, Meill and Thomberg lived in the late 18th century as the Electoral presiding judge (Gerichtspräsident) mainly in the Ehrenberger Hof on the Münzplatz in Koblenz.

In 1798 the castle went into the possession of the Lord of Stein.  In 1831 it passed to the House of Kielmannsegg and in 1924 to the Count of Kanitz-Cappenberg . From 1991 the Ehrenburg has been privately owned and, since 1993, preserved and rebuilt by volunteers of the Friends of the Ehrenburg (Freundeskreis der Ehrenburg) from private funding.  (Ulrich Mehler: Kleiner Burgführer der Ehrenburg. Freundeskreis der Ehrenburg, 2008)

 (M. Budde Photo)

Ehrenburg keep.

 (Manfred Obersteiner Photo)

Aerial view of Ehrenberg.

 (Phantom3Pix Photo)

Ehrenberg.

 (Romke Hoekstra Photo)

Thurant Castle (Burg Thurant, also Thurandt) is spur castle in ruins standing on a wide hill spur made from slate above the villages of Alken on the Moselle River.  The castle is located within the county of Mayen-Koblenz in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  Next to the castle which stands on a steep shoulder of the valley are vine gardens on the sunny side.  From the mid-13th century the archbishops of Cologne and Trier, were joint owners of the site and had their respective property managed by burgraves.  As a result, each half of the castle had its own bergfried, living and domestic buildings and a separate entrance.

From the early 16th century the double castle gradually fell into disrepair and was made a complete ruin during the destruction wrought by the War of the Palatine Succession.  Robert Allmers (1872–1951) from Varel, co-found of the Hansa Automobile company and, from 1914, Director of Bremen's Hansa Lloyd factories, purchased the site in 1911 and had part of it rebuilt.  The castle is still in private hands today, but may be visited from March to mid-November for a fee.  According to the Heritage Monument Conservation Act of Rhineland-Palatinate, it is a protected monument which is incorporated into the state monument list The entire site has been declared a protected zone.  In addition Thurant Castle is a protected cultural object under the Hague Convention and displays the blue and white protection signs.

Pottery finds point to a Roman settlement on the hill spur, but the first record of the place dates to the year 1209.  Count Palatine Henry I the Tall from the House of Welf probably had a fortification built on the present site between 1198 and 1206 in order to secure the claims of his brother, Emperor Otto IV, in the Moselle region.  According to tradition, he named the hill castle after Toron Castle near Tyros in present-day Lebanon, which he had besieged in vain during the Battle of Barbarossa during the Third Crusade After Count Palatine Henry II the Younger died without male issue in 1214, Emperor Frederick II gave the castle and the village of Alken as an imperial fief together with the Palatinate to the House of Wittelsbach who were loyal to the Hohenstaufens.

As a result of its location in the land around Trier, Thurant Castle was also, however, claimed by the archbishops of Cologne and Trier.  In 1216 Engelbert I of Cologne succeeded in taking the castle by force.  Although Pope Honorius III protested against this act, Engelbert retained possession of his prize until his death in November 1225, when the castle went back into the hands of the counts Palatine by Rhine.  Following that, Duke Otto II of Bavaria appointed a knight, Berlewin, named Zurn, as the burgrave.  Because Berlewin conducted himself as a robber baron and raided the Trier Land from his castle, Arnold II of Isenburg and Conrad of Hochstaden joined forces and besieged the castle in 1246 in the so-called Great Feud (Große Fehde).  In 1248 the place was captured by them and, on 17 November that year, an expiatory treaty (Sühnevertrag) was signed that has survived to the present day and is thus one of the oldest German documents.  In the treaty, Electoral Palatinate gives up possession of Thurant Castle and the associated estate of Alken in favour of the two archbishops.

The archbishops divided the site into a Trier and a Cologne half which were separated by a wall and each managed by a burgrave appointed by their respective primates.  Each half had a separate entrance, its own residential and domestic buildings and a bergfried, today called the Trier Tower (Trierer Turm) and Cologne Tower (Kölner Turm).  In the 14th and 15th centuries, both parts of the castle were not only Afterlehen fiefs, but also mortgaged properties (Pfandobjekte).  Among the noble families who occupied the castle from the early 14th century were the families of von Schöneck, von Winningen, von Eltz and von der Reck.  From 1495 the lords of Wiltberg were one of the vassals.  They used the castle, which was becoming a ruin as early as 1542, as a stone quarry, in order to build a country house in Alken, the Wiltberg’sche Schloss or Wiltburg.

During the War of the Palatine Succession the castle suffered further destruction in 1689 at the hand of French troops and the castle finally became a ruin.  Only the two bergfriede and a residential house from the 16th century were largely undamaged.  Geheimrat Robert Allmer purchased the site in 1911 and had several of its elements rebuilt in 1915/16.  Since 1973 it has been a joint private residence of the Allmers and Wulf families.  (Stefan Ulrich: Arras, Beilstein, Bernkastel, Cochem und Thurandt. Beobachtungen an einigen Moselburgen. In: Burgen und Schlösser. Zeitschrift für Burgenforschung und Denkmalpflege. Jg. 49, 2008, No. 3)

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo)

Burg Thurant.

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Aerial view of Burg Thurant.

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Aerial view of Burg Thurant.

 (Klaus Graf Photo)

Burg Thurant.

 (Klaus Graf Photo)

The Niederburg (Lower Castle) at Kobern, also called the NiedernburgUnterburg or Neue Burg, is a hill castle standing above the municipality of Kobern-Gondorf in the county of Mayen-Koblenz in Rhineland-Palatinate.  The ruins of the Niederburg stand at a height of about 150 metres above the village of Kobern on a hill ridge that points towards the Moselle.  On the same ridge and about 50 metres higher, is the Oberburg (Upper Castle) and St. Matthias' Chapel.

The castle has an amygdaloidal ground plan.  It has a three-story, 20-metre-high bergrfied, measuring 7.5 x 8 metres, with an elevated entrance at a height of 10 metres.  There are also the remains of a two-story, Late Gothic palas.  A wall tower and a cistern is also well preserved and there are significant portions of the outer walls.  The castle was guarded to the west by a curtain wall with a zwinger and to the north by a throat ditch.  The upper third of the bergfried and the battlements were rebuilt in the 19th century.  Between 1976 and 1978, the state castle administration reconstructed and enhanced the palas and the cistern between the two towers.

The castle was built in the mid-12th century.  It is first recorded in 1195, when the then Burgherr made it a fiefdom of the Electorate of Trier.  The female line of the Lords of Isenburg-Kobern died out in the 13th century.  The Kobern Castles and associated lordship passed via the heiress, Cecilia, to Frederick II of Neuerburg (a side line of the Counts of Vianden).  In 1309 the male line of this family also died out.  Thereafter the castle and lordship was sold to the Archbishop of Trier.  In 1688 the castle was destroyed.

The castle is open to the public all year round and may be visited free of charge.  The bergfried may be entered by carefully climbing through a narrow wall gap, but the interior views are not worth the climb.  Visitors may climb up to the castle on a narrow footpath from the Mühlbach valley.  (Das Mittelrheinische Becken. Edition no. 1 Böhlau, Cologne; Weimar; Vienna 2003)

 (Klaus Graf Photo)

Niederburg, southwest view.

 (Klaus Graf Photo)

Niederburg, left and Oberberg, right.

 (Klaus Graf Photo)

The Oberburg at Kobern, also called the Oberburg or Altenburg, is a hill castle above the municipality of Kobern-Gondorf in the county of Mayen-Koblenz in Rhineland-Palatinate.  The ruins of the Oberburg (Upper Castle) stand at a height of about 200 metres above the village of Kobern on a hill ridge that points towards the Moselle.  On the same ridge and about 50 metres lower, is the Niederburg (Lower Castle).

Apart from the Late Romanesque St. Matthias' Chapel and the bergfried little other than a few remains of the enceinte have survived.  The castle has a rectangular ground plan and measures about 110 by 40 metres.  The ground and upper story of the roughly 9 by 9 metre, square bergfried are vaulted.  Access to the second floor is via a staircase in the wall.  The building attached to the bergfried was built in 1989.  

The castle was built in the early 12th century on a Celtic hillfort site.  It is first recorded in 1195, when the then Burgherr made it a fiefdom of the Electorate of Trier.  St. Matthias' Chapel was built c1220/40 by Lord Henry II of Isenburg, in order to serve as a reliquary for the head of Saint Matthias.  The castle area was increased in size when the chapel was built.  It used the choir of a previous structure, which was probably not finished.  The lords of Isenburg-Kobern held the castle until the mid-14th century . It was then sold to the Archbishop of Trier and fell into ruin.

In 1936, the bergfried was covered by an temporary roof to protect it from further decay.  From 1989, a restaurant was built next to the bergfried on a site that had been built on before.  As part of the work, the bergfried was increased in height and given a new roof.  The castle is open to the public all year round and may be visited free of charge. There is a restaurant in the bergfried and adjacent buildings.  St. Matthias' Chapel can be visited at summer weekends.  There is an ascent to the castle up a narrow footpath, the Kreuzweg, through the vineyards, from the Mühlbach valley.  (Alexander Thon, Stefan Ulrich: „Von den Schauern der Vorwelt umweht ...“ Burgen und Schlösser an der Mosel. 1st edition, Verlag Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg, 2007)

 (Klaus Graf Photo)

St. Matthias' Chapel and castle tower.

 (mrozewski Photo)

Ruin Winningen.

 (Holger Weinandt Photo)

Koblenz is a German city situated on both banks of the Rhine where it is joined by the Moselle.  Koblenz was established as a Roman military post by Drusus, c8 B.C.  Its name originates from the Latin c?nfluent?s, meaning "(at the) confluence" of the two rivers.  The actual confluence is today known as the "German Corner", a symbol of the unification of Germany that features an equestrian statue of Emperor William I.  The city celebrated its 2000th anniversary in 1992.  After Mainz and Ludwigshafen am Rhein, it is the third-largest city in Rhineland-Palatinate, with a population of around 112,000 (2015).  Koblenz lies in the Rhineland.

Data for castles and palaces on the Rhine is listed on a separate page on this website.