Eltz Castle (Germany)
Rhineland-Palatinate See list of castles in Germania
The Eltz Castle is located in a small, wooded valley; and it is located in the center of the basin, perched on a rocky outcrop. The Eltz River loop almost entirely around the cliff; making it a brilliantly defensive place.
It 'easy to see that this was a perfect place to build a castle. But the Castle Eltz was well positioned for economic reasons, as well as geographical. The confluence of the Rhine and Moselle rivers formed an important trade route in the Middle Ages.
Castles were used to protect the trade routes; but, in addition, they could be used by nobles as a basis for collecting taxes and tithes from passing traders. Because of this, the first foundations of the Burg were laid in about 1157. These early structures became the Platteltz - a big, medieval castle-fortress, which is now merged into buildings at the back of the castle.
Burg Eltz: Three castles in One
From small foundations, mighty castles are built - and could surprise to discover that the Castle Eltz was not designed or built as a complete structure. In fact, Burg Eltz is actually three castles in one.
Why? Construction of a medieval castle was a significant financial commitment, and so three different branches of the Eltz family built completely separate structures on the site of today's castle.
There were three different sides of the clan - the Kempenich ( 'The House of the Golden Lion'), the Rübenach ( 'The House of the Silver Lion') and 'The House of Buffalo Horns', each of which built their fortified quarters of life. These separate buildings coexisted peacefully on the cliff; with their residents sharing a central well and a courtyard.
Each branch of the family built several buildings in different architectural periods. For example, the buildings Rübenach (some of which surround the courtyard today) were late Gothic style - with an emphasis on light and height. On the contrary, 1600 Kempenich buildings show early-modern complexity, with the octagonal foundations and large working towers made of wood.
In 1815, the castle has been unified in the hands of the House of the Golden Lion (that is, the descendants Kempenich). This line was out the other families lived, and was also rich enough to buy the property of the House of the Silver Lion.
Currently, the Eltz Castle is privately owned; and it was held by the Eltz family for over 800 years. The owner-in-chief is Dr. Karl Graf; which is in the 33rd generation of the Eltz clan.
The owners of today are quick to point out that the recent restoration of the castle was reasonably authentic. Back in 1800, the romantic style of the restoration rather over-exaggerated the fairytale aspects of many other castles, rather mutilating their true heritage. On the contrary, Burg Eltz was renovated and restored in a more sympathetic way.