Seperating fact from fiction in the case of the Mice Tower is not easy. It would seem that the Romans once had a fortificaton where the Mice Tower now stands. This was slowly destroyed by the ravages of time and little more is known until the 10 th century.
Then, according to legend, the Mäuseturm was built by the Archbishop of Mainz Hatto II. The archbishop seems however not to have been imbued with a spirit of christian charity for although his grain stores were filled to the brim while the surrounding districts were racked by a severe famine he refused to help the starving poor.
The cries of the starving evoked the cynical comment from him - " Listen to the cries of the corn mice."
Divine justice now intervened and from every nook and cranny of his abode thousands of mice emerged and drove the bishops' servants from his house. The bishop himself fled in a boat to the Mäuseturm and locked himself in but to no avail for he was there eaten alive by the pursueing mice.
This rather gruesome legend gave the tower its name and also provided subject matter for authors such as Clemens Bretano and Victor Hugo.
Moving now into the realm of established fact we know that the Mäuseturm was built (rebuilt?) in the second half of the 14th century to reinforce the customs policing of that section of the Rhine by Ehrenfels Castle.
It was destroyed by French troops in 1689.
Little then happened until the middle of the 19th century when the Prussian king Friedrich William IV had the tower rebuilt in the neo-gothic style, where it fuctioned from 1850 until 1974 as a signal tower for ships on the Rhein.
As the island on which the Mäuseturm stands is now a bird sactuary , the tower is unfortunately closed to the public.