History From Castle & Family Eltz

Eltz castle (Burg Eltz in German) is a genuine medieval fortress that has stood the test of time. Its unusual location on an oval rock in the Elzbach valley, flanked on three sides by trees and a small stream, lends the castle a storybook and magical look.

The castle could not be enlarged horizontally due to its position. Because the rock is the base, it has only grown in height. The Burg as we know it now evolved over the ages. Numerous towers, turrets, spires, and bay windows were constructed by family members to create the distinct image of Eltz castle.

Photo Credits: germany-insider-facts.com

Unlike many castles in Germany, Burg Eltz has never been demolished, despite being located on an important trading route at the time. 850 years of medieval heritage may still be admired by visitors. Since the name “Eltz” was first documented in 1157, the castle has been owned by the same family.
It is regarded as a genuine German treasure, and it was featured on a 500-DM note from 1961 until 1995.

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite German castles. Actually, it was one of the first places I went with my husband almost 40 years ago. And, of course, we returned!
Find out all you need to know to plan and enjoy your visit to this magnificent example of a German medieval castle.

History of Burg Eltz

I’m always interested by the history of old castles, therefore I’d like to offer you a little insight.

  • As a witness, Rudolf von Eltz signed a donation deed issued by Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa in 1157. It was the first time the name appeared in writing.
  • On the Elzbach during the time, there was a little castle. The Romanesque keep Platt-Eltz may still be visited today. The Kempenich Houses incorporate a portion of the medieval Pallas.
  • Following a squabble, the brothers Elias, Wilhelm, and Theoderich divided the castle and estate. Burg Eltz was designated as a Ganerbenburg. It means that numerous family lines possess and reside in the castle.
  • Inside the castle, each of the three family lines, Eltz-Kempenich (Eltz of the Golden Lion), Eltz-Rübenach (Eltz of the Silver Lion), and Eltz-Rodendorf (Eltz of the Buffalo Horns), erected their own residential houses and turrets. Building activity lasted for than 500 years, until the 17th century.
  • The “Eltzer Burgfriedensbriefe,” contracts for a codex of regulations, governed cohabitation beginning in 1323. During the ages, the codex was altered a few times.
  • In the 14th century, the “Eltz Feud” was a 5-year feud with Balduin, archbishop of Trier. Balduin erected the fortress Trutzeltz on a hill opposite Eltz castle to besiege and attack Burg Eltz with catapults and heavy stone balls after a cannon attack failed. The Eltz family ultimately gave up after two years when they ran out of food.
  • Although the majority of the exterior fortifications had to be removed following the loss of the Eltz Feud, the castle itself was never destroyed. Smart family strategies and wise diplomacy managed to prevent hostilities and invasions over the centuries that followed.
  • The Eltz-Rodendorf branch of the family died out in 1786, and their portion of the castle passed to the Kempenich family. Count Hugo Philipp purchased the Rübenach House in 1815, and the Kempenich family has been the only owner of Eltz Castle since since.
  • The castle is currently owned by Dr. Karl Graf von und zu Eltz-Kempenich, alias Faust von Stromberg, in the 33rd generation!
Photo Credits: germany-insider-facts.com
Photo Credits: germany-insider-facts.com
Photo Credits: germany-insider-facts.com

Facts For Eltz Castle

Burg Eltz’s quiet position and unspoilt environment in the neighboring woodlands contribute to its enchanting aspect. The castle’s stunning architecture is, of course, the main draw.

Interesting facts about the castle:

  • Eight 35-metre-tall structures cluster together. There was always a method to construct another space, with solid stone walls topped with timber frame structures, oriels and turrets.
  • A hundred rooms provided housing for up to a hundred family members, several staff, and guests. Several of the chambers could be heated, which was unusual in old castles.
  • Because there were no hotels before then, noble families were obligated to host guests, but only those who arrived with good intentions.  Guests had to pay set fees for visits that may last up to a year, includingand included the entourage. It’s intriguing to me that a prince had to pay more than an ordinary knight or servant. These tariffs were stipulated in the previously mentioned “Burgfriedensbriefe,” and the funds were used to build and maintain the castle.
  • Burg Eltz was built over a 500-year period, until the 17th century. Of course, maintaining such an old castle takes a lot of money and labor.
  • The first substantial restoration operations were carried out in the nineteenth century. Fortunately, the responsible Count Karl zu Eltz did not remodel the castle; instead, he took great care to preserve the original architecture, which is still praised by specialists today.
  • Another substantial renovation period occurred from 2009 to 2012 to ensure that the castle would not break apart. Roofs and timber frame structures were repaired, and technological equipment was replaced. The castle appears “new” again after a fresh coat of paint. As I compared images from my first visit, I could clearly notice the change!
Photo Credits: germany-insider-facts.com
Photo Credits: germany-insider-facts.com
Photo Credits: germany-insider-facts.com

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