Tanstein Castle

Dahn, Germany

Tanstein Castle is one of the three castles at Dahn; the others being Altdahn and Grafendahn. Although the three castles are sited next to one another on a hill ridge, they were not built at the same time.

Tanstein is the oldest of the three castles in the group. An 1127 document refers to an Anshelmus de Tannicka as the owner or governor; as a result the castle was probably built in the early 12th century. In 1189, in a deed by Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, a Henry von der Than is mentioned and the castle designated as an immediate imperial fief. In the period that followed, Ulrich of Dahn and Conrad of Dahn are named as imperial ministeriales. In 1328 the castle became a fief of the bishops of Speyer. Until 1464 there were frequent changes of ownership, which suggests that the fief was still not inheritable during this phase, but was always re-enfeoffed.

In 1512 Frederick of Dahn purchased the castle. Because he was an ally of the knight, Franz von Sickingen, he was involved in his battles against the imperial princes in southwest Germany. After Sickingen's defeat and death in 1523, Tanstein, too, fell into the hands of the victors. Its occupation by troops of the Archbishop of Trier lasted until 1544 and probably led to irreparable damage to the structure of the castle, because it was finally abandoned in 1585. In 1689, at the start of the War of the Palatine Succession, the French completely destroyed the ruins.

Tanstein Castle is located on the two westernmost rock outcrops of the Dahn castle cluster. Both were originally linked by a bridge. On the rocks today are modern parapet walls that have been rather arbitrarily added and do not give any real idea of the old castle buildings. On the western rock outcrop there were apparently domestic-like buildings, that were built against the rocks. This is evinced by putlock holes and other marks on the rocks as well as a large cistern, in which water from the roofs was gathered and stored.

The lower ward on the southern rock outcrop still shows traces of the original walls dating to the 15th century. These include the ruins of a smithy and a smelting furnace.



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K40, Dahn, Germany
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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)


4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Petra Mergner (4 months ago)
Finally a castle that is open on Mondays ? Just the thing for anyone who likes to explore. Then have a snack or a glass of wine and the trip is a success.
MON TE (Monte) (5 months ago)
Our visit to the Tanstein castle ruins was impressive. The well-preserved ruin offers exciting insights into history and a breathtaking view. Unfortunately, some steps are very badly worn, which can affect safety.
Danielle Cummings (2 years ago)
Came here today (a warm September Thursday afternoon) with my three kids ages 6, 4, and 2, and a friend with her 6 year old. We parked at the Wanderparkplatz .3km away from the castle, which was easy to find when set as our destination in Google Maps using GPS directions. The lot is paved and free, but is rather small; it fits about 10 cars if done well, though thankfully it is largely shaded, at least late in this late summer afternoon. Though the lot is close to the castle entrance, the wide gravel path is entirely uphill, and stroller friendly, aside from the incline and the fact that you can't use the stroller in the castle, and took my kids about 10 minutes to climb. Once at the base of the castle, there are several different paths to take, but you need to go through the gate next to the house-like building (which is actually a drink/ice cream kiosk) to access the interior of the castle. From there you can get up to Altdahn and Tanstein castles; there is a middle castle which we assumed is Grafendahn castle that we weren't able to figure out how to get in, though there are railings and a flagpole at the top. Anyways, the castle has free admission but does have limited hours (10-5 on this September day). Just in front of the gate there are two informational signs (one on the fence and one on the rock behind it, the latter having a map in English, French, and German). Once through the gate, you can decide which castle to start with. We went left and explored Altdahn castle first, which is the largest and most time consuming to explore as it has many stairways and hallways and nooks and rooms (some of which are quite dark, though some had automatic light sensors). We almost got "lost" a few times, not remembering which halls or stairs we had already taken. This castle took over an hour. Tanstein is much smaller and can be explored in about 20 minutes at a quick pace. The whole complex is very reminiscient of the nearby Drachenfels (which can be seen from this castle) and Fleckenstein castles, but the unique aspect here is that you can almost see the progression in the method of building and designing - Tanstein feels much older and more worn than Altdahn does, while Altdahn has beautiful trim and design that Tanstein doesn't have. The castle is largely safe, but I'm sure a determined toddler or reckless preschooler could manage to fall from one of the bridges or stairways and seriously injury themselves, as there are steep, uneven rocky steps with adjacent cliffs all over, though all stairwells and platforms have railings or walls, if they do have gaps here and there. Point being, watch your children and be careful yourself. The tops of each castle are very sunny, so bring hats/sunglasses/sunscreen if the season warrants. The views from the tops of each castle are stunning. We were there for 3 hours in total, which includes exploring the castles at my 4yo's walking/stair climbing pace and several breaks to take snacks. The food kiosk has wine, ice cream, tea, and a few other menu items I didn't look through as the first two items were all we wanted. There are some benches within the castles themselves, but the only picnic tables were surrounding the kiosk at the base of the castle. Overall, this is a great free castle for people of all ages (but warrants being quite cautious and watching over children carefully), with plenty of ruin to explore and views to appreciate, though hours are limited, but made better by the fact that there is a kiosk serving refreshment during opening hours and the close if small parking lot. FYI, I duplicated this review for Altdahn as I tried to encompass both experiences in one,though tbe photos here are only of the complex parking lot, entrance, and Tanstein
AsatrU dark (2 years ago)
Historisch interessant und sehr sehenswert, eine alte Burg nun Ruine, die Burgruine Tanstein bei Dahn. Für Interessierte lohnt sich ein Besuch auf jeden Fall. Unweit von der BURGRUINE Tanstein befindet sich ein Wanderer Parkplatz und man erreicht schnell die Burg.
Marco Wendler (2 years ago)
I took an extra 1 hour journey to visit these castle ruins and then found out that they are closed. Before I started my journey, however, I was informed on the Google page that the castle ruins are open. I don't think that's okay. Such changes should always be updated....
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