Marksburg Castle

Braubach, Germany

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.

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Details

Founded: c. 1117
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Salian Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Pieter Cornelis (2 years ago)
It was very interesting and different from my other experiences with castles. The castle is almost completely original. The guide provided us with interesting information about the castle.
Laura González Piñeiro (2 years ago)
An interesting castle with marvellous views to the Ring's Valley. The guided visit is indispensable.
Sumnima Tandukar (2 years ago)
This was my favourite castle tour!! The guide does an amazing job keeping us informed without getting us bored. Learned a lot
Andrey Epifanov (2 years ago)
Nice castle! Good view about medieval times!
Leo Tan (3 years ago)
Fantastic castle to visit along the Rhine River. Winding road that leads up to the castle‘s carpark. After which would be a short climb up to the castle. Upon reaching the top, you would have an amazing view of the Rhine River. It’s free to walk round the castle, but there’s a fee to go in to see the inside of the castle.
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Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.