Episode 90 – Postcards from Marksburg Castle & the Middle Rhine

NOTE: These travel pictures are from travels prior to us becoming nomadic in 2018. Like most of the world, we are staying put right now until the threat from COVID19 is either over or preventable via a vaccine.

Travelling by river boat along the Rhine is quite magical in itself, but then …. castles!!

We awoke one morning to find that we were docked quite near the “Deutsches Eck” (German Corner) where the Rhine meets the Moselle, with its iconic equestrian monument of Kaiser Wilhelm I.Our destination for the morning was Marksburg, the best preserved castle fortress on the Rhine, never having been damaged or allowed to fall into disrepair in over 900 years. It was built around 1117 AD to protect the town of Braubach, which I found fascinating, since Braubach was my maternal great-grandmother’s maiden name. Situated at the top of the hill, it has panoramic views in every direction.

Just one of the impressive views from the castle is this one over Braubach and the Rhine.Entering the castle we walked on cobblestones smoothed by centuries of horses’ hooves. Knights entered on horseback; today, tourists enter on foot.In a nook adjacent to the formal dining room is the lord of the castle’s privy. It wouldn’t do to allow nobles to continue discussing state strategies without their liege lord hearing everything. The privy empties directly to the outside of the castle, 2 stories up from the path below. Be very careful what you walk under!

My favourite of the heraldic shields in the castle was that of the Grafen von Katzenelnbogen, which translates as the “Counts of Cats’ Elbows”. The shields are displayed in the Riders’ Stairway.

Looking up at the Romanesque watchtower keep from inside the castle yard.

The 17th century wine cellar. Much of the wine stored here was watered down as a beverage drunk by castle inhabitants of all ages, since water was not safe to drink without some alcohol to kill bacteria.

One of many surviving mediaeval tapestries displayed inside the rooms of the castle.

15th century armour on display in the castle armoury.

I imagine that Rumpelstilkin would have felt quite at home at Marksburg, spinning gold.

The beautifully painted ceiling of the 14th century chapel.

Back in the town, we noticed the Braubach war memorial, built from old rubble stones to commemorate the fallen of the Franco-German War in 1870/71 and the First World War 1914-1918.

In the afternoon, we sipped Rudesheimer coffees, hot coffee liberally laced with Asbach Uralt brandy poured through a sugar cube and liberally topped with whipped cream (of course!), as we sailed the section of the Rhine from Koblenz to Rudesheim. This stretch of the river, known as the Middle Rhine, is a UNESCO world heritage site, lined with steeply banked vineyards, castle ruins, and including the famous Lorelei Rock.

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