The Eltz Castle is a medieval castle which is one of the most beautiful castles in Germany. Situated in the hills above the Mosel River, between Koblenz and Trier, it is one of the three remaining castles on the left bank of the Rhine in Rhineland-Palatine which still stands today.
It is surrounded by the Elzbach River, and an amazing forest, the Eltz Forest which has been declared a nature reserve in 2000. The castle was constructed in the 12th century, and today it is still owned by the Eltz family.
This Ganerbenburg ( a castle occupied by several families) castle is divided into several parts. This happens when more territory owners decide to build a castle together. In medieval times, the rich owners of villages, or parts of villages, could not afford to build a castle of their own, so they joined with other heirs.
They built one structure on the same location, but everyone had a separate part where they lived, so the only thing that they used together was the defensive fortification. The oldest part of the castle is Platteltz, a Romanesque keep which was built in the 9th century.
The fortress was an important feature of the empire by 1157, when a donation was made by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa. In 1472, the Rubenach house, built in Gothic style, was completed. It is a remarkable structure, and one of its most beautiful parts is the Rubenach Lower Hall. The last part of the castle was finished in 1540, when the Rodendorf house, which contains the vaulted banner-room, was constructed.
The several Kempenich houses were constructed in 1530, and besides other castles, every room of these houses could be heated. Although the Eltz castle looks like it’s from a fairytale, it is known as a stone-and-timber structure that had a very powerful defense.
Today, the Kempenich houses are still used by the Eltz families, and the Rodendorf and the Rubenach homes are open to the public. Inside, visitors can see the armory of weapons and the treasury of the families filled with artifacts made of gold, silver, and porcelain.
The castle was used on the German 500 Deutsche Mark note from 1965 to 1992. It was also used as a lunatic asylum in the film The Ninth Configuration from 1979, directed by William Peter Blatty. For more than 800 years, the castle is in the private ownership of the Eltzs, and its current owner is Dr. Karl Graf.