This was our last day and only one stop planned for the day until our flight from Frankfurt.
This stop was one of the most magnificent and interesting castles in our program – Braunfels Castle. Since we had a flight to catch we left our apartment quite early and after about an hour later we parked in front of the castle. There is a huge free parking on premises so you won’t have any problem with your car. You can visit the castle only with guided tour on every hour. Almost every tour is in German, but visitor can get brochures in their language. We were late for the first and decided to spent the time wandering around outside the castle and the small town beside it.
There’s no much to tell about the town, there’s more to see. Lovely houses and shops, cosy and calm atmosphere early in the morning, when only few people were drinking coffee.
Castle Braunfels is located on a basalt rock west of the health resort Braunfels in the Central Hessian Lahn-Dill-Kreis. The castle soars 100 m above the Lahn valley. It has been the seat of the Counts of Solms since the 13th century and is still owned by the counts of Oppersdorff and Solms-Braunfels in the 21st century.
The palace’s appearance has changed much over the years, with new additions to the complex as well as the destruction of other parts. In 1679, much of Braunfels was incinerated in a terrible fire. Count Heinrich Trajektin was responsible for the reconstruction.
In 1845, Braunfels Castle underwent a renovation at the hands of the “Hunter Prince” Ferdinand who rebuilt parts of it in the Gothic Revival style and added its famous Knights Hall.
The castle got yet another makeover just 35 years later by Prince George. He is the man to thank for the castle’s present look. Much of its unique features, like the towers and bay windows, can be attributed to him.
The interiors are designed as a museum and partially accessible with a guide. Here you can see the differents you can be part of, but I’l say a few words for all three of them. Castle Tour allows visitors an inside look to the most beautiful chambers of the vast castle grounds and its princely collection. The end is at the Canon’s Place, where you can see heavy bronze canons from the 16th century. The Family tour is specialized for kids and the Medieval life and humor. If you are looking for a more elaborate tour or if you are interested in a specific field, there are three “masters of their trades” available to you.
The price for the standard one is 7 euro, the special – 10 euro.
The furniture and the art-historical collections of the Princely Family of Solms cover the time period from the 13th to the 19th century. Taking photos is forbidden, so all you see is the little pictures I found on internet.
Honestly, the interior is not as spectacular as the exterior and I’m not sure if I would recommend the visit.
Since I didn’t have the opportunity to write about it in the previous posts, now I’ll add another castle, which was just above our house and thanks to that was always ignored by us.
Originally named Burg Braubach, The Marksburg rises high above the right bank of the Rhine River, crowning a cone-shaped hill overlooking the town of Braubach. The Marksburg is the only castle on the Middle Rhine to escape destruction or ruin. The castle had some additions in the 17th and 18th century, but maintains its medieval character.
The castle exsiat from the 12 century, built by the lords of Eppstein as a complex castle, owned by the Elector of Mainz- member of the Eppstein family, who holds it until 1238. The castle was bought by count Eberhard II in 1283. He built the Gothic part of Marksburg Castle, giving it its striking form.
As a result of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, Nassau as well as Marksburg Castle was taken over by Prussia. Now it was used as living quarters for soldiers, but it was in danger of falling into disrepair due to governmental neglect.
In the year 1900, with the help of Emperor Wilhelm II, the German Castles Association was able to purchase the Marksburg for the symbolic price of 1,000 Gold Marks. The Marksburg suffered its darkest hour when, in 1945, the castle came under direct shell-fire by American forces fighting against Nazi’s hiding in the castle. Its wounds were minor.
The castle only can be visited in the course of a guided tour taking about 50 minutes. The price is 7 euro, children under 6 years go free. Here you can see it’s working hours and other information.
And here are some of castle’s highlights:
Entering the Marksburg, four gates have to be passed. The first one is a large drawbridge gate followed by a vaulted tunnel with an antique bookshop on the right, 500 years ago the room of the castle’s gate keeper.
The guided tour of the castle starts at the Fuchstor (Fox Gate) which is the second medieval gateway.
Above the doorway of the third gate, the “Schartentor” (Arrow Slit Gate), there is a machicolation, a little oriel from which the defenders would throw stones onto attacking enemies’ heads if they had advanced this far.
The large cannons in this “Great Battery” are aimed at the Rhine river. According to weight we differentiate between front-loading 6-pounder and 12-pounder cannons. With a reach of approx. 1000 meters, the soldiers were able to secure the Rhine valley in its whole width. The older part of this military construction was erected in 1589, the latter half in 1711.
The kitchen is situated on the ground floor of the Gothic Hall Building from 1435. The kitchen was usually solely a place for the servants while the noble family dined in their own hall upstairs.
The first room on the next floor is the noble family’s bedchamber, furnished with wood panelling, a canopied four poster bed, a cradle and a seating and reading area in the window niche. It was one of the few rooms in the castle to be heated by a stove.
The adjoining room is the impressive Great Hall, the very heart of courtly life. As a combined living and dining room, leisure time was spent playing chess or making music while rare entertainment as provided by travelling singers who would also spread news and gossip. A small passage through he outer wall leads up to the medieval toilet, a privy.
One of the tour’s highlights: the “Gimbel Collection”, a display of twelve life-sized figurines from 1880 which demonstrates the changes made to armour and weaponry from ancient to early modern times.
The oldest part of the castle, the basement of the Romanesque Palas, where the old horse stables used to be, is in use as display space for a small exhibition about torture and punishment in the Middle Ages and early modern days.
That was the end of our adventure through this majestic and spectacular castles. I am more than impressed and satisfied, my expectations were surpassed. I recommend this route, the best way is by car, but I’m sure that it can be managed and without one.
Now I say goodbye because my adventure is waiting around the corner. Say tuned for the next chapter and don’t stop to travel!