Chasing Castles and Ruins

A hidden gem, the Burg Eltz in Rhineland Palatinate

Do you love castles?

I grew up dreaming of it and hoping that I see some in my lifetime. The moment that I moved in Germany, this dream have became somewhat reachable, and doable.See, we don´t have much palaces and castles from where I grew up, and in Kuwait where I also short-lived, there´s not much royalty castles to visit, although there is the Bayan Palace, the grand palace and official residence for the Amir of Kuwait. I see it everyday on my commute to work but I never had the chance to explore inside. I remember as a child, I normally build castles out of sands from the beach and for me, those are awesome.

Anyway, in a short period of time that I am living here in Bavaria, I have discovered (some ) castles and ruins that are worth sharing. If you´re in the vicinity, you might try to visit them. Actually, its not easy for me to visit castles and ruins, given that I have a young child with me that easily gots bohred in closed places! With that in consideration,it´s actually not her “ playground” and she cannot run around especially when there are things bound to break . We avoid the long tours and we always take her into consideration whenever we have the chance to visit and explore one.A child easily gets bored and most castles have steep stairs, dark, and somewhat eerie for a child.Nevertheless, the display of Knights and royal mementos can somewhat amaze a young visitor!

Germany is definitely a land of castles, and ruins. There´s plenty of it that its hard to choose which one is the better than the renowned Neuschwanstein and the long list of other beautiful ones! What I found so interesting is that most castles in Germany are built in strategic locations—either on top of a mountain, hill, on a cliff, or to something of a hidden route.In most castles that we´ve seen, we always need to climb up, trek and do some hiking before we where there.It requires an effort but good thing most of them are accessible even to handicapped persons. Mainly because practically, they are built for defensive purposes, and yes, they are a symbol of power during Medieval times!

I can only share a few which we visited but I still have a long list of castles that I really love to see someday. Some castles have been well maintained, but then some are totally left in ruins.Anyway, let´s get acquainted with different German terminologies regarding Castles. You might find this very helpful why they have so many names about it where the rest of the world only refers to it as “castles“.

This view awaits after the hike to explore the ruins of Rabenstein Castle , the oldest of the three castles .Once you reached this far, you will have a magnificent view of the main Danube canal, Altmühl valley and the Prunn Castle from a far.
On top of the ruins of Rabestein Castle in Riedenburg, in the vicinity of Altmühltal valley in Bavaria
Not only Kings and Queen lives in a Palace, also Knights in shining Armor.

In Germany, we have “Burg” (Castle) which means strong, fortified buildings. Then we have” Schloss ” where a certain Royal family lives, a king or Queen have lived here. Schloss can also mean a large Manor House where noble families lives.” Festung” is Fortress, which by the name denotes means a fortified ,large and secured castle.It is normally surrounded with walls and built up on high place.

The first castle that I´ve seen and made me developed this quest is Burg Eltz located in West Germany, in Rhineland-Palatinate. I travelled here with my 1 year old daughter way back then. I love the mystery it holds, right upon the first time I ever saw it. It is well tucked in the middle of the forest and getting there is really something.This castle dates from 12th century.It is very well maintained and the tour inside is impecabble.This castle has been owned by the Eltz family. Location wise, it is a very beautiful castle.It looks so romantic, and really brings you back to Medieval times!I am glad I was able to see its 850 years of history! It´s not surprising that it is considered as a German treasure since it is once featured in a 500 DM note from 1961-1995! Writing this makes me dream again of seeing it once again.Here´s my fairytale trip in Burg Eltz.

Here in Bavaria, southern part of Germany, Schloss Prunn is known to be the jewel of Riedenburg, the heart of Altmühl valley. Prunn Castle is one the best preserved Knight castle in Bavaria.It is located 70 meters above the Altmühl valley so its famous for a wonderful panoramic views.We visited this castle during Corona times , we were the only guest inside the castle since we were early to avoid the crowds.The view from above is amazing!

On top of the mountain sits the ruins of Burg Randeck.
The neighborhood of Knights ( Burg Randeck)
Panoramic views of Altmühltal valley

After Burg Prunn, we drive in the vicinity of Essing to check out the ruins of Burg Randeck.This is another lovey area within the Altmühl valley where we see well preserved bridges.Burg Randeck is a well preserved castle ruins known to be ” Robber Knight´s nest ” which is now owned by Essing Market.Burg Randeck provides us once again with a marvelous views of the nature valley of Altmühltal.The ssuspension bridges against the blue green rivers are sights not to be missed as well as the quaint little town of Essing. Make sure to climb up the ruins up to the Castle dungeon and Hunger tower because it will reward you with breathtaking views especially on a clear sunny day.

My everday view, our very own New Castle here in Ingolstadt, here shown on the background photo from Klenzepark.
Falcon show at Schloss Rosenberg ( Falkenhof)

Another fascinating castle in the vicinity of Altmühltal valley is Schloss Rosenberg also known as Falkenhof.This is another castle situated high ridge of the Altmühl valley.We had a unique experience of seeing the Falcon show where we see amazing art of training Falcons, eagles and owls.There is an outstanding Museum about the history of Falcontry,as well as birds of prey and other local wildlife.

We did another hike and explohre another ruins which really took us by surprise.The ruins of the Rabenstein Castle is located on a mountain slope near Rosenberg.The trek was narrow but then the views are very beautiful, this ruins is from a small medieval castle, probably from the 12th century, and is the oldest of the three castle complexes in Riedenburg. It is believed that the builders were the Rabensteiners, since an Albert von Rabenstein was mentioned in a document in the 13th century.What is amazing is that we saw Burg Prunn and the quaint town of Riedenburg.

On a cycling tour to chase some castles in Neuburg an der Donau with this one!

We did a 23 km cycling tour to Neuburg an der Donau and here we saw “Jagdschloss Grünau“. The Grünau Castle is located about 7 kilometers east of Neuburg an der Donau and is in between the largest forest in Central Europe.This castle is an example of early Renaissance architecture.the Wittelsbach Count Palatine Ottheinrich had it builht as a proof of his love for his wife Susanna.It was originally built as a moated castle, but the trenches have now been silted up.

Grünau´s castle´s impressive Facade

Also in Neuburg an der Donau is another beautiful palace called Residenzschloss Neuburg.Some parts of it were under renovation during our visit but then there are so many highlights to be seen including the inner courtyard.This palace is an important early Renaissance building built by Count Palatine Ottheinrich from 1530 to 1545.The palace chapel is the oldest churh building in Bavaria and the Frescoes were done by Hans Bocksberger.The castle courtyard is equipped with a sgraffiti facade, which shows scenes from the Old Testament by Hans Schroer (after 1555).

Beautiful Frescoes in the Rezidenzschloss Neuburg
The beautiful town of Neuburg an der Donau

We made a daytrip and went to visit the Imperial Castle in Nuremberg. The historical “Kaiserburg” also known as the the Imperial Castle of Nuremberg is the most important symbol of Nuremberg. Though this city was heavily bombed from WW II, the city has restored most of its iconic structures including this castle. Just like any other castle, this castle holds an important part of history. This castle is in fact one of the most important fortresses in the whole of Germany and was first mentioned in 1105. From 1050 to 1571, all holy Roman Emperors resided in this castle. One of the largest and most modern youth hostels in Germany is located in one of the former Imperial stables.

The tower of Nuremberg Imperial Palace against the blue skies in Bayern.

Hiking this palace with a stroller is quite tough.It can be challenging gainst the warm summer so if you want to explore this with children, better to schedule your trip wisely.The views from above is worth the effort.

Nuremberg Castle

Notable things to check on in this Xastle is the Deep Well . The well house is located in the center of the outer Bailey. The shaft of the well was hewn into the rock to a depth of 47 meters. A highlight of the visit is also the round Sinwell Tower (“sinwell” Middle High German = very round), which was built as a keep for the Imperial Castle in the 2nd half of the 13th century; the topmost storey and the interior wooden roof construction were built in the 1560s.More about this Castle will be found on my separate Post about Imperial Castle Nuremberg.

Our very own Neues Schloss in Ingolstadt. Here standing like a magical palace beneath the snow during Winter.

Of course how can I forget about our very own New Castle located here in Ingolstadt.New Castle (Neues Schloss) is propably one of the most important Gothic secular buildings here in Bavaria.Now it is the home of the Armee Museum in Bavaria. One of the worthwhile things to see is the ray of unique Cannons with lion heads.

How about you, when was the last time you´ve been in a castle?As for me, I love castles, but not fairytales. I think we can never be royals, but then we can visit Palaces and Castles

Until next time on our new Expat adventures! Bleib gesund, stay healthy and Tschüss!

Burg Eltz , A fairytale trip

Visiting Burg Eltz is like  stepping into a fairytale . I have never seen a real castle in my whole life and seeing one for the very first time is a dream come true. I was excited and at the same time thinking if going there would be baby-friendly . I’m so glad we went through with it. This is a great family destination !

A scenic setting

We drove from Osann-Monzel through the quaint towns of  Münstermaifeld  & picturesque Wierschem . The road trip itself  is wonderful , the long  & winding road with views of scenic countryside . I always wonder ,”Where is the castle ?” The element of surprise is always there.

 We arrived around 4 p.m  & we  decided to take the shuttle bus from the car park which led us to the castle within 5 minutes. From the steep winding road , it was really a magical experience to finally  have a glimpse of  Burg Eltz .It was erected  in a strategic position along the lower Eltz River, which serves as a tributary of the Moselle. This was a popular trade route linking the Moselle  with the Eifel River. The castle was built atop a 70 meter high rock giving it a commanding view of the Elzbach Valley and River Eltz, which flowed around the base of the castle on three sides.

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Burg Eltz as seen from the footpath.

If you want to have a short hiking adventure, (approx. 15 mins. )  starting from the lower car park , the foot path and the private road  will  both brought you unforgettable views of the castle. We took this road  on our way back to the car park since we want to make the most of this adventure . I strongly recommend to wear your baby  in a sling for an enjoyable walk through the woods  although this footpath can also allow you to have a push chair for your child.

Best Kept Secret Beautiful Architecture

Burg Eltz is simply gorgeous. It is located in the perfect setting , hidden like a gem in the forest . Even though the weather was a bit gray , Burg Eltz still charmed us  with its Tudor style buildings & cone-shaped roofs . It’s so striking between the luscious greens of the forest around it.

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A scenic view of the Burg Eltz

This castle is one of the  most beautiful castle all through out Germany. Burg Eltz is one of the few Rhenish castles that was never destroyed & preserved. As a result of skillful diplomacy, the castle avoided conflict during the 30 years war when most of the Rhine castles were destroyed by the French.The castle consists of eight towers with living quarters grouped around an inner courtyard.

We took the English tour which lasted of about 45 mins. I was really in awe of the interior of the castle . It’s like you are being transported 850 years back. I felt in awe knowing that Me & my daughter is standing at the same floors were the ancient Eltz family stepped on . With  baby in a sling around me , i let myself be absorbed through the wonderful journey inside the castle .

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Inner Courtyard

A castle with Legacy 

Burg Eltz has  a distinctive  Medieval siege tower at the top of the hill.This is the Trutz-Eltz ,erected by archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg in the mid-14th century.He was trying to take over the entire region between Trier & the Rhine river but the Eltz family & their local allies refused to give in.This was the beginning of the so-called  “Eltz-feud” (1331-36), during which Balduin laid siege to Eltz castle. In the courtyard , the stone balls that his men had lobbed at the castle  from Trutz-Eltz (also known as Spite-Eltz )  can still be seen.

It’s a wonderful experience that through the tour , you can have  an idea what is the living areas of a wealthy noblemen in the late 15th century look like . What’s amazing is how the features like oak beams and fireplaces stayed in place after all these years . The famous  Virgin & a child with grapes painting adorns the Lower Hall . It is such an important piece of art . The castle is filled with murals & the ceiling reflect the oriental influence that spread throughout Europe after the crusades. One interesting feature i saw in the Burg Eltz is the built-in toilet . The toilets were flushed using rainwater collected from the roof , through a sewage duct ,and into the valley below . In the middle ages , they use hay & cabbage leaves as toilet paper.The Rodendorf Kitchen is also worth a look .From this ,you can really see what does a 15th century kitchen looks like ,with its built in oven made of volcanic stone ,the huge chopping board , the replicas of food hung on the ceiling to keep out from the reach of rodents.

I highly recommend for you to take the tour in your preferred language to learn more about this castle because it’s amazing. There is a nice Restaurant that you can grab a drink and eat after the tour or just simply enjoy the views surrounding the castle. Clean bathrooms are also present & they also have a souvenir shop.

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Travel Tips !

  • If you’re travelling with babies , babywearing is much better than carrying them since strollers are not allowed inside .The castle has no ramps and steep stairs during the tour is a high concern.
  • Take advantage of getting into Burg Eltz through the short hike ,the wonderful nature is also not to be missed.
  • Wear comfortable shoes as the castle grounds is cobbled and climbing the narrow, steep stairs could be a pain .You also need to watch your head during the tour because the ceiling is low in some passageways.

You can find more helpful information in Here if you plan to visit Burg Eltz.

Have you’ve ever been to Burg Eltz ? How was your experience ? Please feel free to share it in the comments.

Again , have a nice day & Thank you for reading !