A Day at Germany's Marksburg Castle
Marksburg Castle is the best-preserved medieval fortress in the Rhine River Valley. Sitting high on a hill, the castle has stood guard over the town of Braubach, Germany for over 800-years. Our Marksburg Castle guide includes all the information you will need to enjoy a day at this impressively intact ancient citadel.
Marksburg Castle is the only fort in the Rhine River Valley to look much as it did in the 13th-15th century. In feudal times, the citadel’s thick walls warded off invaders. In more recent history, Marksburg was able to escape the bombs of World War I and II that destroyed so many other structures in Europe. The complex’s Great Hall, kitchen, chapel, and armory are well-preserved slices of medieval life that are open to the public for touring.
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RHINE RIVER CRUISES
The banks of the upper-middle Rhine River has forty castles that sit upon its shores. The area has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is estimated that along this stretch of water there is a castle every 2.5 kilometers. Over the centuries many of these bastions fell into disrepair. Some were later reconstructed; others remain in ruins. The Marksburg Castle is unique because it is one of the few compounds that retains much of its original layout and architecture.
WHEN WAS MARKSBURG CASTLE BUILT
Marksburg Castle is first referred to in literature in the year 1231. In the 50 years that followed, it is believed that the castle developed from a nobleman’s fortified home into a proper castle. During this period, the compound was owned by at least two different powerful families who added Romanesque and Gothic elements to the structure’s distinctive foundations.
MARKSBURG CASTLE HISTORY
Over the next few hundred years, the castle continued to change hands. In the late 1400’s, the castle passed to the Landgraves of Hesse who ramped up the its fortifications by adding artillery batteries and ramparts. During the 1800’s, the castle was no longer used as a fort. Instead, it functioned as a home for invalids, a prison, and a barracks for the Prussian army.
By the 1900’s, Marksburg Castle was in poor condition. It was purchased by the German Castle Association, whose mission it is to protect castles. Under the association’s ownership, significant renovations were completed. Due to the association’s preservation, visitors are currently able to tour parts of the original castle such as the Knight’s Hall, kitchen, walkways, and the ancient weapons exhibit.
WHERE IS MARKSBURG CASTLE
Marksburg Casltle is located on the right bank of the Rhine River in Braubach, Germany. Braubach is a lovely village about 13km outside of Koblenz (the nearest city). Braubach is known for its charming old town, and collection of 16th and 17th century half-timbered houses.
HOW TO GET TO MARKSBURG CASTLE
By Plane: Nearest airports are Cologne and Frankfurt.
By Car: From Koblenz or Rudeshiem take the B42. Use the Braubach exit and follow the signs to Marksburg.
By Train or Bus: From Koblenz, a regular schedule of buses and trains run to Braubach. Marksburgh Castle is about a 30-minute walk from the Braubach station. The last bit of the walk is a steep hike up to the castle.
By Boat: From the Braubach quay take a taxi to the castle. The castle is a popular stop for Rhine River Cruises and drivers are familiar with the short trip.
MARKSBURG CASTLE TOUR
Admission: Marksburg Castle is open 7 days a week; 11am to 6pm.
Cost: Adult ticket $11E at this writing (Discounts for children and families).
Tours: The castle can only be visited as part of a guided tour. The tour takes about 50 minutes to complete. The last tour of the day begins at 4pm. Note: in the summer, guided tours in the English language take place every day at 1pm. Contact the office for other times of the year.
MARKSBURG CASTLE ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW
Parking: For a fee, motorized vehicles can park in the castle’s parking lot. There is a walk uphill (about 5-8 minutes) to reach the castle.
Bathrooms: There are modern bathrooms onsite.
Gift Shop: There is a gift shop onsite. The ticket office is in the gift shop.
Accessibility: There are many stairs, cobblestones, changes in surface/grade, and narrow passageways that would make this location difficult for individuals in wheelchairs, with walkers, or who are sight-impaired to navigate.
Food / Drink: There is a onsite restaurant/tavern adjoining the castle.
MARKSBURG CASTLE INTERIOR
Castle Gates: There are a series of gateways that visitors must pass through to reach the castle interior. The gates include Drawbridge Gate, Fox Gate, and Arrow Slit Gate.
Rider’s Staircase: A bedrock staircase displays the Coats of Arms of the various castle owners through time.
Great Battery: See a battery of 6-pounder and 12-pounder cannons that were capable of hurling cannon balls 1000 meters across the entire width of the Rhine River.
Romanesque Palas: The oldest castle residential quarters. Constructed in 1239, the castle’s current manager occupies the rooms soldiers once slept in (the inside of this building is not part of the tour).
Garden: The garden holds around 150 species of plants that were known to grow in the area in the medieval times including medicinal and poisonous plants.
Wine Cellar: See the inside of a 17th German wine cellar.
Castle Kitchen: Located on the ground floor of the Gothic Hall Building, the kitchen dates back to 1435. Food was prepared by servants in the kitchen and transported upstairs for the noblemen to consume.
Bed Chamber: A member of the noble family’s bed chamber is on display.
Great Hall: The Great Hall was the family’s main living space. Off of the hall there is a small hallway leading to the privy (medieval toilet).
Chapel: View a 14th century chapel that the noble family used for worship.
Armory: On display are 12 life-sized mannequins showing the various styles of armor and weapons.
Keep: In the courtyard visitors can view (the outside) of a narrow keep (watchtower) dating back to 1239.
Former Stables and Torture Exhibit: In the oldest part of the castle is a small exhibit about torture and punishment spanning from the Middle Ages to modern times.
Blacksmith’s Workshop: Visitors can view an example of a medieval forge.
Gute reise! (Have a good journey) Laura and Randy
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