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 powerful families at that time; four of them were archbishops and electors of Mainz, and one of them held the same position in Trier.
The castle was bought by Count Eberhard II of Katzenelnbogen (1283). These counts belonged to one of the wealthiest lineages in the Rhineland - one of the countesses of Katzenelnbogen was the mother of King Adolf of Nassau. The counts of Katzenelnbogen built the Gothic part of Marksburg Castle, giving it its striking form. When the last Count of Katzenelnbogen died in 1479, the castle passed to the Landgraves of Hesse, through the marriage of the heiress Anna to Heinrich of Hesse. Marksburg Castle was turned into a hill fortress with artillery batteries and ramparts (this work mainly carried by John 'the Belligerent').
When the old German empire broke up in 1803 the castle passed into the hands of the Duchy of Nassau. During this period our castle was only used as a home for disabled soldiers and as a state prison. As a result of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 the castle was taken over by Prussia. Now it was used as apartments, but it was in danger of falling into decay because the administration did not seem to have done much against it.
In the year 1900, with the help of Kaiser WilheIm II, theGerman Castles Association was able to purchase the Marksburg for the symbolic price of 1,000 Gold Marks. This was done on the initiative of professor Bodo Ebhardt, privy court planner and architect in Berlin, who carried out extensive restoration of the castle.
Today this castle houses the headquarters and offices of the German Castles Association (DBV), whose main task is the protection and preservation of castles and stately homes. The association's impressive specialist library, comprising over 25,000 volumes plus records on castle history is now housed in the Philippsburg, also located in Braubach. The castle is open to the public around the year.References:
Het Steen is a medieval fortress in the old city centre of Antwerp. Built after the Viking incursions in the early Middle Ages as the first stone fortress of Antwerp, Het Steen is Antwerp's oldest building and used to be its oldest urban centre.
Previously known as Antwerpen Burcht (fortress), Het Steen gained its current name in around 1520, after significant rebuilding under Charles V. The fortress made it possible to control the access to the Scheldt, the river on whose bank it stands. It was used as a prison between 1303 and 1827. The largest part of the fortress, including dozens of historic houses and the oldest church of the city, was demolished in the 19th century when the quays were straightened to stop the silting up of the Scheldt. The remaining building, heavily changed, contains a shipping museum, with some old canal barges displayed on the quay outside.
In 1890 Het Steen became the museum of archeology and in 1952 an annex was added to house the museum of Antwerp maritime history, which in 2011 moved to the nearby Museum Aan de Stroom. Here you’ll also find a war memorial to the Canadian soldiers in WWII.
There are some beautiful plaques on the back side of the Steen Castle at Antwerp. Canadian visitors will especially want to see the plaques thanking the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry for their part in the liberation of Antwerp, in 1944.
At the entrance to Het Steen is a bas-relief of Semini, above the archway, around 2nd century. Semini is the Scandinavian God of youth and fertility (with symbolic phallus). A historical plaque near Het Steen explains that women of the town appealed to Semini when they desired children; the god was reviled by later religious clergy. Inhabitants of Antwerp previously referred to themselves as 'children of Semini'.
At the entrance bridge to the castle is a statue of a giant and two humans. It depicts the giant Lange Wapper who used to terrorise the inhabitants of the city in medieval times.