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« Germany 5.2: Castles … | Home | Germany 6: Cologne »

Germany 5.3: Castles on the Rhine

Ok, this is the last castle.   I swear.

Marksburg castle sits in an ideal position on a hilltop which falls away very steeply towards the Rhine and on the other side into the Dachsenhauser valley.  The hilltop was probably fortified initially before 1117, but a castle is not mentioned in text until 1231.  

 

I was interested in this castle because when it was restored around 1900, they actually took care to restore it to how it would have been in the late medieval period.  

This angle gives a better view of the castle's defensive features.  To get in, you have to navigate the (1) drawbridge gate at the bottom of the drawing, (2) then a long covered walkway, (3) then the "Fox gate," (4) the Loophole door and eventually the (5) "Iron Portal" leading into the inner courtyard.

Again, this thing was hard to take pictures of up close.  But I'll try and start from the beginning and work in.

Here's the first entrance.  Its the drawbridge gate.

If you walk all the way to the Fox Gate and then look up, you can see the keep again.

You can see pretty clearly from the inside (or outside) of the Fox Gate, that it used to be bigger.

There were "rider's stairs" further into the castle than this.  The appropriate guess being that people used to ride on horseback through these gates.  Oh, and "rider's steps" are stairs built to match the stride of a horse, not a person.  Its pretty obvious when you're walking up.

Here's the next gate.  The Loophole gate.  This is where the castle took itself a little more seriously.  The part of the building that juts out over the gate was for dropping things on your foes.  

 

 If you make it through the loophole gate you can turn left up the rider's steps and you're at the entrance to the inner courtyard.

We don't get to go in there yet.  First we wander around the outside of the main castle buildings.  This is basically above the area you'd be in if you made it through the Loophole gate.

 

  Those cannons point at the Rhine.

 

They had a medieval garden outside too.  It boasted some impressive number of authentic medieval herbs or something or other.  I didn't care about that part.  At any rate, I'm sure they got plenty of sun out here.

 

Eventually we slipped through a back door to the inner courtyard buildings.... makes me wonder what the Iron Portal was for.  Oh well.  First stop, wine cellar!

After that we wandered up some sketchy stairs into a hall. This room is actually available for functions.  I wonder what everyone's looking at.

 

Oh.

 

 Then up some more stairs, through a residential room.  The tour guide pointed out this was the only room in the castle that would have had a stove (a relatively new invention).  Kristine was quick to point out it was also the only wooden room.

 

From there we went through a tiiiny door into the Knight's Hall. 

This castle featured an innovation for its day.  This small wooden room protrudes off the castle wall and has a hole in the bottom of it.  Guess what its for.

From there we went into a small chapel room, then up the super secret back staircase.  Of course, Kristine's flash makes it look very bright.  Its very dark and narrow in there.  Other passages shot off in different directions once we got going in there, but they all look the same on film so use your imagination.

 

Eventually we ended up in a room that had excellent examples of armor and weapons dating from Greek Hoplites all the way up to the final evolution of suited armor.  Here's a guy that looked familiar.

Finally, we went back out into the tiny inner courtyard.  You can see how cramped it is because I couldn't even get a shot of the keep.

 

Marksburg was pretty cool.  I'd like to go back and tag along with an English tour, stay in their small hotel, or maybe rent out their great hall for a dinner party.



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