Braubach: Germany's Marksburg castle has survived intact for 800 years
It is one of the most eye-catching castles along the Middle Rhine Valley. Since the 12th century, Marksburg castle has crowned the highest point above the German town of Braubach and maintains a record that no other in this region can boast — in more than 800 years, the castle has never been destroyed.
It’s still a wonder that this stone structure survived the Middle Ages, the years that Napoleon’s troops destroyed many of the castles in this region and two devastating world wars.
History buffs certainly will delve into the rich history of the castle, but for those who simply want to enjoy the sights, the surrounding area is equally enjoyable. Braubach offers stunning river views, eateries and walking and biking paths along the Rhine.
My family ticket was necessary not just for a guided tour of the castle, but also to simply enter its interior. The tour lasted 40-50 minutes, and although informative, it did seem rushed, with little time to take photos, and there could have been substantially more history provided in the guide’s narrative. Simultaneous tours in German and English were ongoing throughout the day and often crossed paths. The result was that there were times when I couldn’t hear what our guide was saying.
It would have been nice during the tour to have more time to observe and linger — particularly at the outdoor observation deck and garden where more than 150 medicinal plants are grown. There were magnificent views of the Rhine River and the abundant hills around the castle.
What I did like was that this was an easy family trip, and the kids enjoyed learning about the castle, particularly its “grand” kitchen, as it was known in those times. The ingenuity of days past still surprises me: The guide explained how large ice blocks were cut from the Rhine during the winter months and stored inside caves that acted as sort of medieval ice chests. The blocks were insulated by straw for use all year long.
The castle’s main bedroom provided one of the most interesting facts about life in medieval times: Everyone slept in a sitting position to keep death away. Death was thought to come at night, and if you were lying down, you were thought to be susceptible.
For the most part, the castle is child-friendly, but there are stairs and a very tight stairwell from the cellar, which could pose problems for strollers. Small children will enjoy the goat that sits guard watching families picnic next to his enclosed area.
From Wiesbaden, take the B42 west toward Bingen, exit Braubach and follow the signs for Marksburg.
The castle can be explored only with a tour guide between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily from March to October and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. the rest of the year. English guided tours are held at 1 and 4 p.m. each day.
Tour prices are 6 euros for adults, 5 euros for students and 4 euros for schoolchildren. Ages 6 and younger are admitted free. Family tickets cost 15 euros. Parking costs 2 euros and is located at the foot of the castle.
The castle has a small eatery, but we found prices to be a bit high. Picnic tables are available on a terrace near the ticket office.
Hikers can take a marked trail from Braubach’s town center to the castle. A shuttle train, called the Marksburg Express, also makes a run to the castle from the town center between Easter and mid-October (5 euros round-trip for adults, 4 euros for children 12 and younger). Phone (+49) (0)2627.536; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.marksburg.de has information available in English.