Castle Ehrenfels is a ruin of a 13th century stronghold on the eastern Rhine slope. The region is famous for its wine production, making the castle a popular attraction. Since 2002, Castle Ehrenfels is part of the Unesco World Heritage Middle Rhine.
The castle was likely built in 1211. It formed part of a series of defensive buildings during the conflict between Philipp of Swabia and Otto IV, both attempting to become Holy Roman Emperor. Despite having been erected with private funds, Castle Ehrenfels was given to the Archbishop of Mainz and became a tax station during the 13th century, although the actual taxation happened in the Binger Mäuseturm on an island in the river.
Castle Ehrenfels became the headquarter of Archbishop Gerhard II of Eppstein in 1301 during his conflict with King Albrecht and was consequential occupied by Kuno II of Falkenstein, who added to the fortifications. Gerlach of Nassau occupied the castle in 1356, suggesting that Kuno had plotted to kill him, which could be a possible link to a legend around a different castle, Castle Rheinstein (click here to read the story)
During the 30 Years’ War the castle was besieged and occupied by several factions. In 1636, Archbishop Anselm Casimir Wambolt of Umstadt burned down the castle to avoid it being used against him, before it was damaged heavily by the French army under Marshal Nicolas Charlon du Blé in 1689. The ruin was sold into private ownership and changed hands several times. Some of the fortifications were torn down to create more space to grow more wine.
In 1866, the castle became the property of Prussia and is today owned by the state of Hesse. Whilst it is possible to visit the outer ramparts, the inner parts of the castle are closed to the public. During recent years, there have been a number of events featuring Castle Ehrenfels, including the ‘Rhine in Flames’ fireworks festival.
Thinking of visiting: Click here.