Castle Arenfels was built between 1258 and 1259 by Henrich II of Isenburg or his son Gerlach. The original stronghold was significantly smaller than the palace that can be visited today. The materials for the castle were take directly from the surrounding area and a deep well reached all the way to the water level of the Rhine itself. However, of the 13th century castle nothing is left today but there is a local legend how the castle was destroyed and rebuild by a crusader knight (click here to read the full story).
The castle was altered several times until it was turned into a palace by Salentin of Isenburg-Grenzau during the latter half of the 16th century. The old protective ramparts were taken down as the castle had no longer any military function and it was transformed into a pleasure palace of the Renaissance style. Swedish croups easily took possession of the palace during the 30 Years’ War.
In 1670 Arenfels was gifted by the Archbishop Karl Kasper von der Leyen of Trier to his relative Johann Carl Casper von der Leyen, who extended the pace to become his families summer residence. During the Franco-Dutch War it was used as headquarters for the French marshal Henri de La Tour d’Auvergne.
The family von der Leyen continued to hold the palace until they had to sell it in 1848 as they no longer possessed the means for its upkeep. Friedrich Ludolf of Westerhold-Gysenberg bought Arenfels and renovated it extensively throughout the 19th century.
The palace was heavily damaged during World War II and was shelled for 8 days by American Artillery. After the American troups had left, the building was in ruins. Whilst some necessary repairs were carried out, too much of the palace was left unmaintained since 2000 an extensive restoration and maintenance programme is working to restore the building to its former glory. Many of the precious furniture and books were auctioned in the 1950s and some of these have been returned.
Today, the palace is still in private ownership and used for events and a restaurant opened in May 2020.