My best friend from High School was visiting with his family. I wanted to take Henry and his family to a special castle I had one in mind but I’ve been there many times before and I was torn between wanting to show my best friend this wonderful castle, and the long drive to see something I’ve already seen half a dozen times. I could have taken Henry’s family to a closer castle, but this one is so special. I decided to take us to one of my favorite castles: the Marksburg Castle on the Rhein River.
Marksburg Castle history
The castle was built in 1117 and first mentioned in 1231. The castle underwent significant construction in the 14th and 15th centuries. During the Napoleonic era of the 18th Century, the castle was used as a prison. By the end of the Austro-Prussian war in 1866, the castle fell into disrepair.
In 1900, the German Castle Association purchased the castle for a symbolic price of 1,000 gold marks. In 1945, American artillery fire from the other side of the Rhein River badly damaged the castle. The castle has been extensively restored and is now a museum and home to the German Castles Association. The castle was never completely destroyed and is the best-preserved castle on the Rhine River.
Can you tour the castle?
Of course you can tour the castle. During the summer, up to 8,000 people per day visit the castle. There are tours in English and in German. The summer season is from the 19th of March to the 1st of November in 2011. Tours are from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and start every 15 or 20 minutes. The guided tour takes about 50 minutes to complete and is the only way to see the castle. English tours are only at 12:00 and 4:00 PM only in the summer season!
You can take the tour in German and follow along with an English pamphlet, but it’s better to take the English speaking tour so you can ask questions and fully understand the tour guide. Groups of 20 or more people can arrange an English tour in advance at other times.
What do you see on the tour?
There are lots of interesting things. There are several gates to get into the castle. It is well fortified. The last gate has places for defenders to pour hot oil on attackers and throw big rocks at them.
Soon you come to the small and great batteries. You’ll find several big cannons aimed at the Rhine River. The range of the cannons was approximately 1000 meters.
After the great battery is the herb garden. This is a medieval herb garden with about 150 medieval plants. I couldn’t find the hemlock but I know it’s there.
Inside the castle you’ll be treated to a wine cellar (no wine tasting…sorry), a Gothic Great Hall, an authentic bedchamber, Banquet Hall, Kitchen and Amory – complete with a chastity belt. My children’s favorite thing was at the end of the tour. The former stables which now have many of the torture devices used at the time. The ceiling in this room dates back to 1239.
Where is the castle?
Marksburg Castle is on the Rhein River, on the East side of the river, just South of Koblenz. It is just under a two-hour drive each way but it is definitely worth the visit. It does cost a few Euros to park your car so have a few Euros ready to give the parking attendant.
The castle is at:
If you want a really nice castle to visit, considering hopping in the car and driving the 2 hours to get to the Marksburg Castle. Bring your camera as you’ll have many photo opportunities, both in and out of the castle as it is situated at the top of a prominent hill. It’s a place you and your guests will never forget.