The Legend of the Binger Mäuseturm

The Binger Mäuseturm is situated on Mäuseturmisland in the Rhine River. It was built in the early 14th century and mostly served as a custom station and single tower. The tower is most famous for the legend how it was named, which inspired authors such as Clemens Brentano, Victor Hugo and Ferdinand Freiligrath

Binger Mäuseturm
Binger Mäuseturm – Brego, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The tower was originally built to support Castle Ehrenfels in its task to collect taxes, as well as signal a dangerous passage through the river called the ‘Binger Loch’, a narrow passage that ships needed to navigate. The Binger Mäuseturm was destroyed during the 30 Years’ War as well as the Nine Years’ War. It saw some basic restoration in 1845 and was used as a signal tower for shipping on the Rhine between 1850 to 1974. However, this became unnecessary when the river was widened and today is a popular attraction on Rhine cruises.

The legend responsible for giving the tower its name goes back to the 10th century though, suggesting that the tower was built by Archbishop Hatto II of Mainz. At this time, a famine ravaged the population and the Archbishop refused to help the peasants, despite his ample supplies. Instead of listening to their pleas, he ordered them to be locked into a barn and burned the building down, killing all of the peasants. It is reported that he laughed at their screams, suggesting that they sounded like squeaking field mice. In that moment, thousands of mice invaded his home. The servants fled and Hatto boarded a ship to escape to the island in the middle of the river, where he thought himself safe. However, as soon as he had locked himself in, the mice emerged again and ate him alive. Hence, the place became known as the ‘Mäuseturm’, the mouse tower. 

Binger Mäuseturm um 1900
Binger Mäuseturm um 1900 – Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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