Eltz Castle is a medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier, Germany. The castle is surrounded on three sides by the Elzbach River, a tributary on the north side of the Moselle. It is perched on a 70-m (230 ft) rock spur, on an important Roman trade route between rich farmlands and their markets. It is one of the few castles that have never been destroyed.
It looks today much as it did in 1540 when the last major part of the castle was built. Its history is quite fascinating as it has been owned within the same family since at least the 12th century and continues to be privately owned by the 33rd generation of the Eltz family. The 80-room castle is still occupied today, and looks much as it would have hundreds of years ago. Local stories say that it is haunted by the ghosts of medieval knights.
Unlike the more popular fairytale Neuschwanstein castle in Bavaria, Burg Eltz was not built as someone’s romantic ideal of a castle but is a real stone-and-timber medieval castle which served as the home and defensive fortification for three branches of the Eltz family.
The castle is one of the few in the area that survived the Thirty Years’ War. The French did not destroy the castle thanks to its location, and some skilled diplomacy on the part of the landowners.
Count Hugo Philipp zu Eltz was thought to have fled during the French rule on the Rhine from 1794 to 1815. The French confiscated his possessions on the Rhine and nearby Trier which included Eltz castle, as well as the associated goods which were held at the French headquarters in Koblenz.
In 1797, when Count Hugo Philipp later turned out to had remained hidden in Mainz, he came back to the reclaim of his lands, goods and wealth. In 1815 he became the sole owner of the castle through the purchase of the Rübenacher house and the landed property of the barons of Eltz-Rübenach.
In the 19th century, Count Karl zu Eltz was committed to the restoration of his castle. In the period between 1845 to 1888, 184,000 marks (about 15 million euros in 2015) was invested into the extensive construction work, very carefully preserving the existing architecture.
Extensive security and restoration work took place between the years 2009 to 2012. Among other things, the vault of flags hall was secured after it was at risk of partially collapsing walls and the porch of the Kempenich section. In addition to these static repairs, almost all the slate roofs were replaced. Structural problems were remedied in the ceiling and wood damage was repaired. In the interior, heating and sanitary facilities, windows and fire alarm system were renewed, and also historic plaster was restored. The half-timbered facades and a spiral staircase were renovated at the costs of around €4.4 million euros.
The castle is open to the public from April 1 to November 1. You are free to visit the castle site any time of the year, but you’ll only be able to tour the inside during these months. When open, the current hours are from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm. All visits are guided, and guided tours depart every 10 to 15 minutes in German. Guided tours in other languages, including French, Dutch, and English, are also available but depart less frequently. Translations of the tours in various languages are also available.
A guided tour of the castle, including a tour of the Treasury, is currently priced at €10 per adult. Discounts are available for children, students (€6.50), disabled visitors, big groups (€9 each for 20+ people) and families (€28 for 2 adults and 2 children). The castle courtyard can be explored without a ticket.
The castle is hidden deep in the forest and from the parking lot, you can either reach it by walking or taking the shuttle bus which costs €2 each way and only runs from April to November.
Note: Though pets are allowed in the castle courtyard, they are not allowed inside the castle complex. Photography is strictly prohibited in the castle interior. But don’t be disappointed, as your photos with the mind-blowing castle facade as the backdrop are enough to set your Instagram profile on fire.
Tip: The castle officially opens at 9:30 am but try to get there earlier to get the iconic Eltz Castle bridge photos without a bunch of people in the photo.