Burg Eltz is the impressive combined residence of three families—the Rübenach, Rodendorf and Kempenich families. A sort of medieval duplex, if you will, in Münstermaifeld, Germany, not far from the Mosel River.

We took a side trip here on our week stay in Mosel.

Part of Burg Eltz dates from 1157, but the three houses that form the main body of castle were completed between 1472 and 1615. In the interior courtyard, you can better tell how the three houses are distinct in materials and architecture. Take a look at the floor plan on Wikipedia.

Bit of history: In 1268 the original 12th-century Eltz castle property was divided among three brothers (three heirs). The brothers changed their names from Eltz. Two derived their family name from their coat of arms (Rübenach and Kempenich), the other took his wife’s name when they married (Rodendorf). A house was built for each brother’s family around a communal courtyard, resulting in the fortress we see today.

Burg Eltz is unique in that it remains in it’s original condition. Interesting note: All but one of the 11-13th century castles along the Rhine were destroyed (mostly by the French) and rebuilt in the Neo-Gothic style in the late 1800s. Burg Eltz survived this reno trend, not to mention two world wars, and has remained in the same family for 33 generations.

According to the guidebook, it’s a gentle downhill walk from the parking lot. No. No, it’s not. It’s a steep hike. There is a shuttle bus you can catch just beyond the parking lot that will take you most of the way. Being cheaper than I am lazy, we walked.

You are free to roam around the castle grounds and chapel. (The chapel is easy to miss; it’s up the flight of stairs on the right when heading to the treasury from the courtyard.) But the castle interior is only accessible by guided tour. It’s a quick 40 minutes.

You are not permitted take pictures inside. I don’t like this. Mostly because I find it difficult to listen to the guide, take in the surroundings and then, especially if you visit more than one castle like we did, remember what the heck you saw where. I do have the brochure, but pictures would help.

No one seems to care if you take pics in the treasury or the chapel. Everyone was doing it, so I did too. But don’t think you can elsewhere without anyone noticing. Watch your guide watching the people with cameras. Do a Google image search; see how many interior shots you see.

Another interesting note: One of the houses (Kempenich) is private and still used by the family today. Not as their primary residence—could you imagine living with all those tourists outside?

Parking is 1.50€; the castle and treasury is 8€. Totally worth the price of admission.

We didn’t, but you could easily spend a whole day here if you combined the castle with a hike down to the river below or in the surrounding forest. There are two busy on-site restaurants with surprisingly decent prices considering the captive audience.

M O R E   P H O T O S
From Burg Eltz. Shot May 28, 2012 in Münstermaifeld, Germany

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