Image from Wikipedia
Marksburg Castle is undoubtedly one of the most interesting of the castles in the Rhine Valley. It is indeed the only one that has survived the vicissitudes of the turbulent history of the Rhine Valley and managed to remain unscathed by the numerous conflicts that have taken place in the area since its construction in the13th century.
Since 2002 the Marksburg has been a part of the UNESCO Heritage Rhine George.
The castle is situated on a hill 160 meters above the picturesque little town of Braubach and in fact was originally called Burg Brubach (Brubach Castle).
How imposing the castle is can be gauged from the fact that the Japanese wished to buy, transport (piecewise I presume!!) and rebuild the castle in Japan. This offer was rejected by the castle owners. As second best however, the Industrious Japanese have built a replica of Marksburg in the German Village Ueno situated on the island of Miyako-jima.
Short History of the Marksburg.
Although the castle is first mentioned in historical documents in 1231 it is assumed to have been built before that date - some estimates as to its erection going back as far as 1117.
In the 13th century further building took place and the castle started to take the its present day form. Further building took place in the 15th century.
As time passed the somewhat austere living conditions in the Marksburg ceased to appeal to the nobility and the Philippsburg was built (1568 to 1571) at the southern end of Braubach. This marked the end of the Marksburg as the official residence of the nobility in Braubach.
After ceasing to be the residence of the nobility, Marksburg deteriorated some what but was renovated by Johann des Streitbaren towards the end of the 30 years war (1618-1648).
During the Napoleonic period Marksburg was declared to be a fortress but in effect functioned as a recuperation centre for the disabled and as a state prison.
In 1900 it was acquired by the German Castle Association and remains the headquarters of this institution.
Some damaged occurred in 1945 from American artillery from the opposite Rhine side.
The Marksburg has now been fully restored and can be seen as a sort of "Castle-Museum" representing a fairly authentic middle ages castle.
The Castle can only be viewed via guided tours. There are one or two English tours per day. There is a bit of a walk from the parking lot up to the castle entrance but it is not too strenuous.
We have visited Marksburg Castle three times and on two of these we have been greeted (spied on?) by the resident goat. He closely observes when you arrive and is still there an hour or so later when you leave.
Although the castle was involved in no conflicts during the middle ages, it was certainly prepared for attack as is witnessed by formidable looking cannons pointing towards the Rhine.
Among the highlights of the tour are
the kitchen which is extremely large and in which you can see the
original fireplace and the implements that were used in days of yore.
On the way to the kitchen the tour takes you through the castle garden. An effort has been made to maintain the gardens it was in the middle ages. The majority of plants are vegetables and herbs that were needed in the kitchen - so the garden is in effect what we would nowadays call a kitchen-garden. The garden was used to move the castle towards self sufficiency.
The bedrooms were rather small and the beds very small by modern standards, reflecting the fact that in those days people were generally shorter than to-day.
On of the most interesting sections of the castle for me was the armoury which has a collection of armour extending from Greek warriors (500 BC) until the late Middle Ages.
At the end of the tour one sees where the blacksmith used to wield his hammer and the torture chamber - unfortunately a feature of many castles in the middle ages.