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History of Eltz Castle

A Majestic Medieval Pile Owned by the Same Family for 800 Years

Eltz Castle is a majestic castle located on top of a rock within a small wooded valley in Germany. Whether through luck or strategy, the castle has been mostly averted from the scourge of war. Aside from the stunning appearance, another interesting fact about this castle is that it has been owned by the same family for more than 800 years.
Eltz Castle (known in German as Burg Eltz) is a medieval castle located in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in western Germany. In addition to its picturesque location, Eltz Castle is also one of the few German castles on the left side of the Rhine that has not been affected over the centuries. Moreover, the castle has been in the hands of the same family, the Eltz family, for more than eight and a half centuries.

The Zabakh River, a tributary on the northern side of Moselle, surrounds the castle on three sides, protecting it from the attacks of any potential invaders. Thus, Eltz Castle occupies a very strategic position in the landscape.

Who Owns Eltz Castle?

History of Eltz CastleToday Eltz Castle is owned by Dr. Karl Graf von und zu Eltz-Kempenich, alias Faust von Stromberg, the 33rd generation of his family. There are two judges (guards or policemen) in Frankfurt or Main, who are responsible for handling tourist business and preserving artifacts on site. Castellans had been running the castle for centuries.

Eltz Castle dates back to the twelfth century. In 1157, the instrument of donation was issued by Frederick I Barbarossa, Holy Roman Emperor. One of the witnesses who signed and stamped the act was Rudolf von Eltz. Although the current castle did not yet exist during this time, there was already another smaller castle occupying the same place.

Portions of Rudolf Castle, such as Romanesque, Platt-Eltz, and four floors of the ancient Roman "palace" (living neighborhood), have been preserved and incorporated into the Kempenich homes, and can still be seen today.

During the next century, a dispute arose between Elias, Wilhelm and Theoderich - three brothers of the Eltz family. As a result of this conflict, the family spilled into three branches - Eltz-Kempenich (Eltz of the Golden Lion), Eltz-RĂ¼benach (Eltz of the silver lion) and Eltz-Rodendorf (Eltz of the buffalo horns).

The castle and property also spilled out into three parts, which made it "ganerbenburg", a term used to denote the castle occupied by several families/family branches at the same time. Eltz Castle continued its expansion by the three families over the following centuries, and the building only reached its present form during the latter part of the seventeenth century.

Eltz Castle was Besieged

Regardless of the encirclement during the fourteenth century, Eltz Castle has not seen much military action throughout its long history, despite being a fortified structure strategically located. In 1331, Baldwin of Luxembourg, Archbishop of Trier, sought to impose peace on his electorate.

The Free Knights viewed this as a violation of their right to special war, and an alliance, including the princes of Eltz Castle, was formed to confront Baldwin. As a result, the Archbishop-Elector built a siege outside the castle of Eltz, through which he was able to bomb his target. However, it was the cut-off of supplies to Eltz Castle that eventually forced the knights to surrender. While most of the castle's fortifications were demolished, the castle itself was not destroyed.

Splendid Eltz Castle Today

In subsequent centuries, Eltz Castle was saved from the ravages of war. In 1618, the Thirty Years' War broke out in central Europe. Over the course of this conflict, several castles along the River Rhine were destroyed by the invading French army. However, Eltz Castle was preserved, thanks to a combination of its location and the diplomatic skill of its masters.

In 1786, the Eltz-Rodendorf family branch of the family ended, and its share of the castle moved into the hands of the Eltz-Kempenich branch. In 1815, the property of the Eltz-RĂ¼benach branch was purchased by Count Hugo Philipp of the Eltz-Kempenich branch. As a result, Eltz Castle again became the property of one owner, and it has remained that way ever since.

Tourism has now become a major part of the castle's existence, and visitors can now ask about medieval architecture and the different features of the castle as they learn its history. One of the interesting features is the clown heads located in the Knights Hall. These heads are symbols of freedom of expression - clowns were allowed to "express their minds" in the Middle Ages - and they also issued a warning not to overestimate oneself.

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