Castles in the Middle Rhine Valley

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

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

Boosenburg Castle Ruins

The Boosenburg Castle consists of high keep (donjon) and 9m wide moat. It was probably built in the 12th century. In 1838 all buildings around the keep were torn down and the new Neo-Gothic manor was built in 1872.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, 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 Rhine, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Boppard, 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 rebuilt it ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Niederheimbach, 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

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

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

Ehrenfels Castle Ruins

Ehrenfels Castle was (re-)built about 1212 at the behest of the Archbishop of Mainz as a defensive work against the constant attacks by Elector Palatine Henry V, who, as Imperial vicar of Franconia, strived to cut down the archbishop"s reach. Mainz staffed the castle with Burgmannen and erected a customs post controlling the shipping on the Rhine, supplemented by the Mouse Tower below at the river. Heavily damaged in ...
Founded: 1212 | Location: Rüdesheim am Rhein, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace is the largest palace in Berlin and the only surviving royal residence in the city dating back to the time of the Hohenzollern family. The original palace was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Friedrich III, Elector of Brandenburg in what was then the village of Lietzow. Originally named Lietzenburg, the palace was designed by Johann Arnold Nering in baroque style. The inauguration of the palace was celebrated on 11 July 1699, Frederick's 42nd birthday.

Friedrich crowned himself as King Friedrich I in Prussia in 1701 (Friedrich II, known as Frederick the Great, would later achieve the title King of Prussia). Two years previously, he had appointed Johann Friedrich von Eosander (also known as Eosander von Göthe) as the royal architect and sent him to study architectural developments in Italy and France, particularly the Palace of Versailles. On his return in 1702, Eosander began to extend the palace, starting with two side wings to enclose a large courtyard, and the main palace was extended on both sides. Sophie Charlotte died in 1705 and Friedrich named the palace and its estate Charlottenburg in her memory. In the following years, the Orangery was built on the west of the palace and the central area was extended with a large domed tower and a larger vestibule. On top of the dome is a wind vane in the form of a gilded statue representing Fortune designed by Andreas Heidt. The Orangery was originally used to overwinter rare plants. During the summer months, when over 500 orange, citrus and sour orange trees decorated the baroque garden, the Orangery regularly was the gorgeous scene of courtly festivities.

Inside the palace, was a room described as 'the eighth wonder of the world', the Amber Room, a room with its walls surfaced in decorative amber. It was designed by Andreas Schlüter and its construction by the Danish amber craftsman Gottfried Wolfram started in 1701. Friedrich Wilhelm I gave the Amber Room to Tsar Peter the Great as a present in 1716.

When Friedrich I died in 1713, he was succeeded by his son, Friedrich Wilhelm I whose building plans were less ambitious, although he did ensure that the building was properly maintained. Building was resumed after his son Friedrich II (Frederick the Great) came to the throne in 1740. During that year, stables for his personal guard regiment were completed to the south of the Orangery wing and work was started on the east wing. The building of the new wing was supervised by Georg Wenzeslaus von Knobelsdorff, the Superintendent of all the Royal Palaces, who largely followed Eosander's design. The decoration of the exterior was relatively simple but the interior furnishings were lavish. The ground floor was intended for Frederick's wife Elisabeth Christine, who, preferring Schönhausen Palace, was only an occasional visitor. The decoration of the upper floor, which included the White Hall, the Banqueting Hall, the Throne Room and the Golden Gallery, was lavish and was designed mainly by Johann August Nahl. In 1747, a second apartment for the king was prepared in the distant eastern part of the wing. During this time, Sanssouci was being built at Potsdam and once this was completed Frederick was only an occasional visitor to Charlottenburg.

In 1786, Frederick was succeeded by his nephew Friedrich Wilhelm II who transformed five rooms on the ground floor of the east wing into his summer quarters and part of the upper floor into Winter Chambers, although he did not live long enough to use them. His son, Friedrich Wilhelm III came to the throne in 1797 and reigned with his wife, Queen Luise for 43 years. They spent much of this time living in the east wing of Charlottenburg. Their eldest son, Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who reigned from 1840 to 1861, lived in the upper storey of the central palace building. After Friedrich Wilhelm IV died, the only other royal resident of the palace was Friedrich III who reigned for 99 days in 1888.

The palace was badly damaged in 1943 during the Second World War. In 1951, the war-damaged Stadtschloss in East Berlin was demolished and, as the damage to Charlottenburg was at least as serious, it was feared that it would also be demolished. However, following the efforts of Margarete Kühn, the Director of the State Palaces and Gardens, it was rebuilt to its former condition, with gigantic modern ceiling paintings by Hann Trier.

The garden was designed in 1697 in baroque style by Simeon Godeau who had been influenced by André Le Nôtre, designer of the gardens at Versailles. Godeau's design consisted of geometric patterns, with avenues and moats, which separated the garden from its natural surroundings. Beyond the formal gardens was the Carp Pond. Towards the end of the 18th century, a less formal, more natural-looking garden design became fashionable. In 1787 the Royal Gardener Georg Steiner redesigned the garden in the English landscape style for Friedrich Wilhelm II, the work being directed by Peter Joseph Lenné. After the Second World War, the centre of the garden was restored to its previous baroque style.