Inside Burg Eltz Castle, Germany’s iconic medieval fortress
Also known as Burg Eltz, Eltz Castle sits on the Elzbach River in southern Germany and is still occupied by descendants of the family who built it 850 years ago.
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National Cultural Heritage Office/Wikimedia Commons
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Eltz Castle is a truly unique castle in Germany that is often not seen in travel brochures. Called Burg Eltz in German, the castle is surrounded on three sides by a stream, while the forest stretches for miles around containing rare flora and fauna.
Incredibly, it is one of only three castles on the left bank of the Rhine in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate that was never destroyed by the chaos and destruction of war.
In addition, a line of the same family that built the medieval town in the 12th century still owns it to this day. To date, 34 generations of the Eltz family have lived there since their permanent settlement in 1157.
A medieval fortress surrounded by forests and traditions
Perched on a huge rock formation that itself sits inside a scenic valley, Eltz Castle overlooks the Elzbach River. There are no roads or modern buildings nearby, so it really echoes the aesthetics of the Middle Ages. Eight towers stretch to the horizon and offer a breathtaking spectacle.
This fantastical castle has garnered a cult following thanks to Instagram because it’s not often featured as a tourist attraction. The castle’s exterior, location, and scenic hiking trails are often photographed, but interior photos are not permitted. (Thus, the photos of the interior of Eltz Castle that you see above were taken by the few rule breakers.)
The family that owns Eltz Castle has done so through an incredible 34 generations. However, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some family drama.
In 1269, three brothers had a quarrel, and the estate was divided into three lines of succession. Remarkably, this actually settled the feud. They simply divided the fortress and occupied their own parts of the castle. They even wrote their own constitution.
Burg Eltz was not intended to be a fortress, although it uses the German descriptor for “burg” instead of “schloss” for “the castle”. It was designed as a residence. And a blueprint of this fairytale house was used as inspiration by Disney when designing Cinderella’s castle for the animated film.
Inside Burg Eltz Castle and its ancient halls
Because only one branch of the Eltz family lives in the castle today, 80 of the 120 rooms inside Eltz Castle have been turned into a museum, including a treasury and an armory that houses over 500 weapons, works of art and other artifacts from the last 850 years.
And the inner courtyard showcases the different architectural styles that the builders used as the castle grew over the years.
Probably the most important room was the Hall of Knights, where festivals and meetings were held. However, a tourist hotspot is Rodendorf’s kitchen, which has remained virtually untouched since the 15th century. It’s as close to authentic medieval cuisine as you’ll see.
There are the Upper and Lower Rübenach Rooms, named after a minor branch of the family, which feature amazing stained glass windows and murals on the walls. The lower hall even has the iconic Renaissance painting Madonna with child and grapes.
In the Hall of Angels, hunting trophies and weapons adorn the walls. The Wambolt Room houses a clothes press and spinning wheel. The Chamber of the Countess presents what is probably the oldest known painted Renaissance bed still in existence.
And in what is called Banner Hall, the opulent Gothic vaulted ceiling circa 1480 serves as a reminder that this room was probably once a chapel. Since then, its main use was as a dining room or living room.
Other rooms include the lodge, the voters’ room and a beautifully decorated office in 1881 for the wife of Count Karl Graf zu Eltz.
If you want to feel like you’re stepping into a movie set in the Middle Ages, put the incredible Eltz Castle on your must-see list and take a look at the gallery above to see the magnificent Burg Eltz in all its medieval. glory.
After discovering Germany’s iconic Eltz Castle, step inside Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairytale castle with a harrowing secret. Then explore these seven famous haunted castles.