Castles in the Middle Rhine Valley

Stolzenfels Castle

Finished in 1259, Stolzenfels was used to protect the toll station at the Rhine, where the ships, back then were the main transport for goods, had to stop and pay toll. Over the years it was extended several times, occupied by French and Swedish troops in the Thirty Years" War and finally, in 1689, destroyed by the French during the Nine Years" War. For 150 years the ruins decayed, until in 1815 they were given ...
Founded: 1259/1826 | Location: Koblenz, Germany

Marksburg Castle

Marksburg as the only undamaged hilltop castle in the Middle Rhine Valley. In the early 12th century records mention the Noble Freemen of Brubach (who probably built the lower part of the keep around 1117), even though the castle itself is first referred to in 1231. The Lords of Eppstein built the Romanesque castle complex with its triangular layout, characteristic of the Staufer era. The Eppsteins were amongst the most p ...
Founded: c. 1117 | Location: Braubach, Germany

Stahleck Castle

The exact building year of Stahleck castle is not known, but it has been proved that the castle was already occupied since the year 1095. It's first mentioned in documents in the year 1135 under Goswin von Hochstadt. Until 1148 almost 10 years of fight followed for the rights of the Stahleck. In the year 1156, after the death of Hermann of Stahleck, his stepbrother Konrad von Hohenstaufen became count palatine of Bachara ...
Founded: c. 1135 | Location: Bacharach, Germany

Reichenstein Castle

Reichenstein Castle, also called Falkenburg, is located above Trechtingshausen. The large construction is one of the spectacular examples of the castle reconstruction in neo-Gothic style. Reichenstein Castle, built in the 11th century, was owned by a robber-baron. Therefore it was destroyed in 1253 and again in 1282. It decayed since the 16th century. In 1834 Friedrich Wilhelm von Barfuß started the reconstruction. Baro ...
Founded: 1100 | Location: Trechtingshausen, Germany

Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein castle was constructed around 1316-1317. It was important for its strategic location. By 1344, the castle was in decline. By the time of the Palatine War of Succession, the castle was very dilapidated. During the romantic period in the 19th century, Prince Frederick of Prussia (1794–1863) bought the castle and it was rebuilt. In 1975 the opera singer Hermann Hecher bought the castle. It"s due to him ...
Founded: 1316 | Location: Trechtingshausen, Germany

Gutenfels Castle

Gutenfels Castle was built in 1220. It was used with Pfalzgrafenstein Castle in the middle of the Rhein and the fortified town of Kaub on the far side to provide an impenetrable toll zone for the Holy Roman Emperor until Prussia purchased the area (1866) and ended this toll in 1867. This castle, primarily owned (since 1257) by the Falkenstein family, is one of the most important examples of the Hohenstaufen military and ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Kaub, Germany

Katz Castle

Count Wilhelm II of Katzenelnbogen built the Katz Castle in the second half of the 14th century. Katz Castle was used as bastion and military base to protect the Rheinfels Castle. Together they formed a fortified bulwark with a barrier for levying of the Rhine toll. The extended view up to the bend of the river at the Loreley was also of great importance to secure salmon fishing. Due to the intentionally chosen location o ...
Founded: c. 1371 | Location: Sankt Goarshausen, Germany

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle is a toll castle known also as 'the Pfalz'. This former stronghold is famous for its picturesque and unique setting. The keep of this island castle, a pentagonal tower with its point upstream, was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. In 1477 Pfalzgrafenstein was passed as deposit to the Count of Katz ...
Founded: 1326 | Location: Kaub, Germany

Heimburg Castle

Heimburg castle was built from 1294 on as a bastion in the Electorate of Mainz against the Palatines. It decayed later and was destroyed by the French in 1689. In the 19th century it was rebuilt by the industrialist Hugo Stinnes.
Founded: 1294 | Location: Niederheimbach, Germany

Schönburg Castle

Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. From the 12th century, the Dukes of Schönburg ruled over the town of Oberwesel and had also the right to levy customs on the Rhine river. The most famous was Friedrich von Schönburg - a much-feared man known as “Marshall Schomberg” - who in the 17th century served as a colonel and as a general under the King of Franc ...
Founded: 1100-1149 | Location: Oberwesel, Germany

Lahneck Castle

Lahneck Castle was built in 1226 by the Archbishop of Mainz Siegfried III of Eppstein to protect his territory at the mouth of the Lahn, where the town of Oberlahnstein and a silver mine had come into the possession of the Archbishopric in 1220. The castle chapel, dedicated to Saint Ulrich of Augsburg, was built in 1245, in the same year the first Burggraf took up residence in the castle. In 1298, King Adolf of Nassau wa ...
Founded: 1226 | Location: Lahnstein, Germany

Sooneck Castle

Sooneck Castle was first mentioned around 1271. Like neighbouring Burg Reichenstein (Rhein), the castle was managed by the lords of Hohenfels as bailiffs for Kornelimünster Abbey near Aachen. What is certain is that the castle was besieged in 1282 by King Rudolph I. His troops overran and destroyed the castle and the king imposed a ban on rebuilding it, which he explicitly restated in 1290. When the castle was rebuil ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Niederheimbach, Germany

Brömserburg Castle

Once situated directly on the banks of the Rhine, Brömserburg Castle was owned by the Archbishops of Mainz from the beginning of the 10th to the beginning of the 19th century. During the 12th century they converted the old fortress into a castle residence. With its vaulted ceilings and walls of more than two metres thick, it successfully provided resistance against any attack. One exception was the destruction of the cas ...
Founded: c. 1000 AD | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

Liebenstein Castle

Liebenstein Castle was probably built in the 13th century as well as near Sterrenberg castle. Both were owned by feodal lords of Bolanden (later Sponheim-Dannenfels). The gate tower was added 1363 and tower in 1380 and the castle was enlarged in the 15th century. However, already in 1529 it was abandoned and left to decay. The major restoration took place in 1977 and today Liebenstein is a hotel and restaurant.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Kamp-Bornhofen, Germany

Mouse Tower

The Mouse Tower (Mäuseturm) is a stone tower on a small island in the Rhine. The Romans were the first to build a structure on this site. It later became part of Franconia, and it fell and had to be rebuilt many times. Hatto II, the Archbishop of Mainz, restored the tower in 968. The story of how it came to be called the 'Mouse Tower' comes from a folk tale (Hatto was being eaten alive by mice in a tower). ...
Founded: 968 AD / 1855 | Location: Bingen am Rhein, Germany

Klopp Castle

Klopp Castle is the landmark of Bingen. It stands on a hill above the town with a wide-ranging view, which may have been the site of a Roman fortification built by Drusus at Bingium around 10 CE. The hill is one of three locations where local legend says that Emperor Henry IV was imprisoned by his son in 1105 or 1106, this being the first surviving mention of a castle there. The last medieval castle on the site was built ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bingen am Rhein, Germany

Electoral Castle

The Electoral Castle is Eltville's landmark and was built in 1330 by Balduin von Trier on the ruins of a castle destroyed during the Tariff Wars ('Zollkriege'). Construction was completed in 1350 by Heinrich von Virneburg. During the 14th and 15th centuries, the castle was the residence of the archbishops and electors of Mainz. In 1635, the entire property, except for the living tower (“Wohnturm”), was destroyed by Sw ...
Founded: 1330 | Location: Eltville, Germany

Rheinfels Castle Ruins

Rheinfels Castle construction was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen. After expansions, it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley between Koblenz and Mainz. It was slighted by French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. The main entrance to the castle complex is a tall square clock or gate tower (~1300 AD) opposite the hotel. A connecting path joins the clock tower to the remains of the livin ...
Founded: 1245 | Location: Sankt Goar, Germany

Sterrenberg Castle

By 1034, Sterrenberg was being mentioned as an imperial castle, but the source is not certain. In 1190, Sterrenberg Castle is listed in the book of Werner von Bolanden as a fief, together with the custom point in Bornhofen. The noble family of Bolanden stayed as lords of Sterrenberg Castle until the second half of the 13th century. From this early period, the bergfried and the first, inner shield wall have survived.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kamp-Bornhofen, Germany

Electoral Castle

The Electoral Castle, with its solid construction and bulky tower, forms the townscape and portrays the power of its builder, the Archbishop and Elector of Trier. The castle had many purposes. It was a fortification to keep enemies out, a stronghold to keep the Boppard nobles at bay and a toll castle for collecting toll from the ships passing Boppard and filling the Elector’s pockets. Like most castles along the Rh ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Boppard, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.