Eltz Castle A Medieval Fortress with a Rich and Vibrant History

Eltz Castle: A Medieval Fortress with a Rich and Vibrant History

LocationWierschem, Germany
Year Built12th century (exact year unknown)
Architectural StyleGothic, Renaissance
OwnerCount and Countess Eltz
Open to PublicYes
Guided Tours AvailableYes
Self-Guided Tours AvailableYes
Visiting Hours9:30 am to 5:30 pm (April to October)
Admission Fee€ 10 for adults, € 6 for children and youth
Main Information about the Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle is a picturesque medieval castle located in the hills above the Moselle River in Germany. It has been owned and occupied by the same family for over 850 years, making it one of the few castles in Europe to have survived the ravages of time and war. This article is not a tourist guide but rather an informative and encyclopedic journey through the history, architecture, and legends surrounding the castle.

History of Eltz Castle

History of Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle is a remarkable medieval castle that stands majestically in the hills above the Moselle River in western Germany. This castle is a testament to the endurance of time and the resilience of the human spirit. For over 850 years, the castle has been owned and occupied by the same family, the Eltz family, and it is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Germany.

The castle has survived the test of time, enduring numerous wars, natural disasters, and social upheavals, yet it still stands as a symbol of the rich cultural heritage of Germany. Built during the Middle Ages, the castle is a classic example of the architectural and artistic style of the era. Its distinctive features include its fortified walls, towering turrets, and sweeping arches.

In addition to its architectural magnificence, this castle is also steeped in rich history and legend. From its origins as a simple fortification to its current grandeur, the castle has seen many changes and has played a significant role in the political and social history of Germany. Moreover, the castle is the subject of many fascinating legends, which have been passed down from generation to generation, adding to its mystique and allure.

The Early Years (12th-13th Century)

The Early Years (12th-13th Century)
Drawing of the Eltz Castle by Lorenz Ekemann-Allesson, after Domenico Quaglio

Eltz Castle was built in the 12th century on a high rocky outcrop overlooking the Elzbach river. It was originally a simple fortress with a tower, surrounded by a palisade and a moat. The castle was built by the Eltz family, who were one of the most powerful families in the region. Over the next few centuries, the castle was gradually expanded and strengthened, as the Eltz family sought to consolidate their power and protect their lands.

Expansion and Renaissance (14th-16th Century)

Expansion and Renaissance of Burg Eltz (14th-16th Century)

In the 14th century, the Eltz family began a major expansion of the castle, adding new wings and towers, as well as a chapel and a kitchen. They also began to decorate the castle with works of art, such as paintings and tapestries. During this period, the castle became one of the most impressive and well-defended castles in the region.

In the 16th century, the Renaissance arrived at Eltz Castle, bringing with it new ideas about architecture and design. The castle was renovated in the Renaissance style, with ornate facades, elegant balconies, and richly decorated interiors. The Knight’s Hall, in particular, was transformed into a masterpiece of Renaissance design, with beautiful frescoes and a magnificent fireplace.

The Thirty Years’ War and Aftermath (17th Century)

In the 17th century, the castle was caught up in the chaos of the Thirty Years’ War, which ravaged much of Germany. The castle was besieged several times by enemy armies, and suffered extensive damage. However, the Eltz family managed to rebuild and repair the castle after the war, restoring it to its former glory.

Rediscovery and Restoration of the Castle (19th-20th Century)

Rediscovery and Restoration of Eltz Castle (19th-20th Century)
Burg Eltz, Wierschem, Germany

In the 19th century, Eltz Castle was rediscovered by tourists and art lovers, who were drawn to its picturesque location and rich history. The castle became a popular destination for travelers, and was visited by many famous writers and artists, including Victor Hugo and J.M.W. Turner.

In the 20th century, the castle underwent a major restoration, which was carried out with great care and attention to detail. The restoration work aimed to preserve the castle’s original architecture and design, while also making it safe and comfortable for visitors. Today, the castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Europe, and a testament to the enduring power of history and architecture.

Architecture of Eltz Castle

Architecture of Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle is a unique and impressive example of medieval architecture, with a complex and fascinating design that reflects the changing needs and aspirations of its owners over the centuries. The castle is divided into several distinct areas, each with its own function and style.

The Outer Castle: Defense and Security

The Outer Castle: Defense and Security

The outer castle of fortress is the oldest part of the complex, and was originally designed as a simple fortress, with thick walls, towers, and battlements. The main entrance to the castle was protected by a drawbridge and a massive gatehouse, which could be closed in times of danger. The outer castle was designed to be as secure and defensible as possible, and is a testament to the military prowess of the Eltz family.

The Inner Castle: Comfort and Luxury

The Inner Fortress: Comfort and Luxury

The inner castle of the fortress was built in the 15th and 16th centuries, and was designed to be a comfortable and luxurious residence for the Eltz family. The inner castle features elegant living quarters, with spacious rooms, large windows, and ornate furnishings. The walls are adorned with beautiful tapestries and paintings, while the floors are made of polished wood or stone. The inner castle also has its own chapel, which is decorated with frescoes and stained glass windows.

The Knight’s Hall: Grandeur and Elegance

The Knight's Hall: Grandeur and Elegance

The Knight’s Hall is one of the most impressive and grandiose parts of the castle, and is a masterpiece of Renaissance design. The hall is located in the middle of the castle, and is accessed via a grand staircase.

Legends of Eltz Castle

Legends of Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle is not only famous for its unique architecture, but also for its intriguing legends and ghost stories that have been passed down through generations.

The Curse of the Countess

One of the most well-known legends associated with the castle is the Curse of the Countess. According to the legend, the Countess of Eltz had an affair with a knight, and when her husband found out, he had the knight executed. In revenge, the Countess is said to have put a curse on the castle, which would bring misfortune to all who lived there. The curse is said to have been responsible for a series of disasters, including a fire that destroyed part of the castle in the 19th century.

The Ghosts of the Knight’s Hall

Another famous legend associated with the castle is the Ghosts of the Knight’s Hall. It is said that the ghosts of knights who died in battle haunt the hall, and can be seen walking around at night. Visitors to the castle have reported strange noises and unexplained sightings, and some have even claimed to have seen the ghosts themselves.

The Hidden Treasure of Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle is also rumored to contain a hidden treasure, which has never been found. According to the legend, the treasure was hidden by the knights who once lived in the castle, and is said to contain gold, silver, and precious gems. Despite numerous attempts to find the treasure over the years, it has never been discovered.

Visiting Eltz Castle Today

Visiting Eltz Castle Today

Today, Eltz Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany, attracting visitors from all over the world. Those who have plans to visit can find information about tickets and visiting hours on the official website of Burg Eltz. If you are planning a visit to Eltz Castle, here are some things to keep in mind.

Getting There and Admission

The castle is located in the beautiful Moselle Valley, and can be reached by car or public transport. Admission to the castle is by guided tour only, and tickets can be purchased at the visitor center. It is recommended to book tickets in advance, as tours can sell out quickly, especially during peak season.

Guided Tours and Self-Guided Tours

Guided tours of Eltz Castle are available in German and English, and last approximately 45 minutes. Self-guided audio tours are also available, and can be downloaded from the castle’s website. The tours provide a fascinating insight into the history and architecture of the castle, as well as its legends and ghost stories.

Tips for Visiting the Eltz Castle

If you’re planning a trip to Germany, a visit to Eltz Castle should definitely be on your itinerary. This magnificent castle, perched on a rocky outcrop in the Moselle River valley, is one of the most well-preserved and striking castles in Europe. To make the most of your visit, it’s helpful to plan ahead and know what to expect. In this section, we’ll outline the steps you should take to visit the castle, including how to get there, admission prices, guided and self-guided tour options, and tips for making your visit as enjoyable as possible. So let’s get started!

  1. Plan your visit ahead of time: Eltz Castle is only open from April to November, so be sure to check the opening times and book your tickets in advance if possible.
  2. Choose your transportation: The castle is located in a remote area, so you’ll need to choose your transportation based on your location and preferences. Options include driving, taking a train or bus to nearby towns, or joining a guided tour from larger cities like Frankfurt or Cologne.
  3. Park or arrive at the shuttle bus stop: If you’re driving, you’ll need to park your car in the designated parking lot and either walk or take the shuttle bus to the castle. If you’re arriving by bus or train, you can take the shuttle bus directly from the nearby towns of Münstermaifeld or Hatzenport.
  4. Walk through the forest and approach the castle: The walk from the parking lot or shuttle bus stop to the castle takes about 15-20 minutes and involves a scenic hike through the forest. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket or umbrella in case of rain.
  5. Purchase your tickets and enter the castle: Once you arrive at the castle, purchase your tickets at the entrance and join a guided tour or explore on your own. Note that some areas of the castle may be closed for maintenance or preservation purposes.
  6. Explore the castle’s inner and outer areas: The castle is divided into two main areas, the outer castle which is focused on defense and security, and the inner castle which is focused on comfort and luxury. Be sure to explore both areas, including the Knight’s Hall with its grandeur and elegance, and the Treasury with its artifacts and treasures.
  7. Visit the gift shop and enjoy a snack: Before leaving the castle, stop by the gift shop to purchase souvenirs or postcards. You can also grab a snack or drink at the castle’s cafe or bring your own picnic to enjoy on the castle grounds.
  8. Return to your transportation: Once you’re ready to leave, return to your car, shuttle bus stop, or public transportation and enjoy the scenic views on your way back.

Eltz Castle in Popular Culture

Eltz Castle has also been featured in numerous films, television shows, literature, and art, and is a popular subject for photographers and artists.

Eltz Castle in Films and Television

Eltz Castle has been featured in several films and television shows, including “The Three Musketeers” and “Game of Thrones.” The castle’s unique architecture and beautiful surroundings make it a popular filming location.

Literature and Art

Eltz Castle has also inspired many writers and artists over the years. The castle has been the subject of numerous paintings, drawings, and photographs, and has been featured in several novels and poems. Its fascinating history and legends continue to capture the imagination of people around the world.

  • “The Haunted Castle” (1838), a novella by Jules Verne, was inspired by Eltz Castle and features it prominently in the story.
  • “Eltz Castle” (1886), a painting by German artist Eduard von Gebhardt, depicts the castle in a romanticized and idealized style.
  • “Eltz Castle in the Eifel” (1927), a woodcut by German artist Franz Moser, captures the castle’s medieval character and rugged landscape.
  • “Castle Eltz” (1996), a photograph by German artist Candida Höfer, showcases the castle’s ornate and lavish interiors in stunning detail.
  • “Eltz Castle: A Medieval Masterpiece” (2018), a book by German historian and castle expert Alexander Thon, provides a comprehensive overview of the castle’s history, architecture, and cultural significance.


Is Eltz Castle open to the public?

Yes, Eltz Castle is open to the public from mid-March to early November each year. Guided tours are available in German and English.

How old is Eltz Castle?

Eltz Castle was first built in the 12th century, with additional buildings added over the centuries. The castle has been owned by the same family, the Eltz family, for more than 850 years.

What is the architecture of Eltz Castle like?

Eltz Castle is a mix of architectural styles, including Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, and Rococo. The castle is particularly known for its unique blend of multiple styles.

What makes Eltz Castle unique?

Eltz Castle is unique in that it has never been destroyed or badly damaged, unlike many other castles in Europe. Additionally, it has remained in the same family for over 850 years, making it one of the oldest privately-owned castles in Germany.

Is Eltz Castle haunted?

There are legends of ghosts and supernatural occurrences at Eltz Castle, but there is no scientific evidence of any paranormal activity. However, the castle’s long history and eerie atmosphere do make it a popular destination for ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts.

How can I get to Eltz Castle?

Eltz Castle is located in the hills above the Moselle River and can be reached by car, bus, or by hiking through the surrounding forest. The castle also offers a shuttle service from the nearby town of Moselkern.

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