Castles in the Middle Rhine Valley

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

Maus Castle

Maus Castle construction was begun in 1356 by Archbishop-Elector of Trier Bohemond II and was continued for the next 30 years by successive Electors of Trier. The construction of Burg Maus was to enforce Trier"s recently acquired Rhine River toll rights and to secure Trier"s borders against the Counts of Katzenelnbogen (who had built Burg Katz and Burg Rheinfels). In the latter half of the 14th century Burg Maus ...
Founded: 1356 | Location: Wellmich, 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

Martinsburg Castle

Martinsburg Castle with its powerful hexagonal tower was built around 1324 as a toll station on the Rhine bank in Oberlahnstein. It was a toll castle in the Electorate of Mainz. The pictorial assembly was built together with the town fortification. The pointed gate in the east wall shows a delicate cast iron oriel with emblem (1395). The north wing probably contained the main rooms. The apartment tower in the northwest, ...
Founded: 1324 | Location: Lahnstein, Germany

Imperial Palace Ruins

The Imperial Palace in Ingelheim was erected in the second half of the 8th century. Charlemagne chose Ingelheim in 787 as the location for his winter quarters, arriving there before Christmas and remaining there without interruption until the middle of 788. However the palace was not completed before completed before 814. It served Emperors and Kings as a residence and place for governance until the 11th century. From the ...
Founded: c. 787 AD | Location: Ingelheim am Rhein, Germany

Fürstenberg Castle Ruins

Fürstenberg Castle was built in 1219 by the Archbishop of Cologne to protect his property and toll station. It was destroyed during the Palatine Wars of Succession. Victor Hugo was once impressed by its powerful shielding wall and keep. The former massive curtain wall has recently been restored and the remains of the original rendering have been exposed and are now visible again.
Founded: 1219 | Location: Rheindiebach, Germany

Nollig Castle Ruins

On the right Rhine bank above Lorch the massive tower of the Nollig Castle Ruin. Around 1300 a cornerstone that belongs to city"s fortifications was built first, which however soon was enlarged to a fortress. Today it is a privately owned property and cannot be visited.
Founded: c. 1300 | Location: Lorch, Germany

Stahlberg Castle Ruins

The position and the layout of Stahlberg Castle clearly indicate that it is founded in the 12th century. It is situated on a rocky projection to the northwest of the town. The ring wall, parts of which have been rebuilt, surrounds the whole area and is rectangular in shape with several openings. A prominent circular tower that rises next to the gateway like a keep was added at the start of the 13th century and secures the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bacharach, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.