We hung out on the upper deck of our river boat with our eyes peeled on the surrounding hills as we made our way through the Rhine River Valley, admiring the some 40 castles overlooking the river. The Marksburg, featured above, was special. Not only is it the best preserved castle along the Rhine, it is considered a jewel in the Rhine Gorge UNESO World Heritage Site and we had just visited. We were excited to see it from below.
One advantage of our leisurely trip up the Rhine, was that it provided us with ample opportunity to enjoy different perspectives of the castles. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
It’s hard to imagine a better way to kick off a journey through Rhine River Valley from Koblenz to Mainz than a visit to Marksburg Castle. Originally built in 1100 CE as protection for the town of Braubach, it was owned by various noble families down through the centuries until it was sold to the German Castles Association in 1900. It had been established a year earlier to preserve castles in Germany. Today, Marksburg serves as headquarters for the Association.
We made our way up to the castle via a route that challenged our bus driver to maneuver along a curvy, narrow road that had originally been built to accommodate foot and horse traffic. If you’ve spent any time driving in medieval European towns, you are familiar with the problem. We were met by our guide who ushered us into the castle and provided an excellent tour. Three things captured my attention: The structure of the castle, its collection of knights and their armor, and a bit on medieval life.
All of the photos in this post are taken by either Peggy or me unless otherwise noted.
Just inside the massive entry door were four lions that represented the different noble families that had owned the castles. The lion is a common feature in heraldry representing courage, valor, strength, and other characteristics that nobles liked to claim they had, rightfully or not.
While many of the castles along the Rhine were designed as homes for nobility first and defense second, Marksburg was designed first for protection. Its two towers were designed to fight off the enemy. Together, the two are commonly called a butter churn tower because of their look. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A different perspective of the tower.
Situated above the castle gate, these ramparts are designed to provide protection for the gate and surrounding walls.
Anyone who has ever watched a movie involving castle defense understands the purpose of this structure. It’s designed to provide the defender with a clear line of fire while at the same time providing an element of protection. The long, slender hole in the right shadow is designed to shoot arrows through while providing even more protection.
A close up of an arrow slit. Hard to get much more protection than this. Finding a target might be more of a problem! (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
I found another use for the ramparts. They made a great frame for a photo.
By the 1600s, cannons were in common use use as both defensive and offensive weapons in Europe. Marksburg had both short cannons and…
…long cannons depending on the latest technology. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The view of the Rhine through the cannon port. Rather commanding, I’d say. Before international agreements on Rhine River traffic were agreed to, a great deal of money was made by charging tolls to passing boats. Usually, a chain was stretched across the river. I have to assume that this was an added incentive to pay up.
The armory included a number of wicked looking weapons including these. The shadows are even scarier. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Even more interesting, there was display on the evolution of what knights wore. This one carried a huge broadsword. Interesting helmet. Eyebrows and a beak. Just ducky? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Flowery. Okay, here’s the question. Assuming you needed a hero to represent you on the field of battle, which one would you choose: Ducky, Horny, Furry, or Flowery? (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Moving right along… how about the lives of the rich and famous in Marksburg Castle. I’m not sure they grew artichokes but we found this one blooming outside. BTW, our niece fed us artichokes for dinner when we visited her last week. We both love artichokes, but we had never made a complete dinner out of them. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
A variety of spices, I assume were representative of ones used during the Middle Ages, were hanging in the kitchen.
As were a variety of cleavers. Chop chop!
The bedroom featured this bed, which struck me as short and uncomfortable. It was designed for privacy, however.
Possibly a little romantic music is called for. The instrument, BTW, is a hurdy-gurdy. I looked it up. Peggy informed me there was a musical group in the late 60s called the Hurdy Gurdy Band. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Romantic love grew out of the age of Chivalry. What better way to recognize it than on a tapestry. This lovely maiden and her dandy duke seem to be sharing a moment as their beasties’ tails entwine to form a heart. Not quite sure what role the ferocious bird on the maiden’s right represents. Maybe it’s a message to the duke not to trifle with her emotions. Kind of like “If you dump me, I’ll stork you.”
If marriage is in the future, the castle has a chapel, complete with Madonna who has lost her hand.
And this is what I could only assume was a flying nun who has lost her bottom. If you are old enough, you may remember the TV series: The Flying Nun. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
We found the chapel’s ceiling quite impressive. Note the lion.
No discussion of life in a medieval castle is complete without a discussion of the garderobe. “The what?” you say. It’s the small room hanging out over the wall. I call it the throne room. Peggy got a photo from inside.
FYI, the garderobe was the medieval equivalent of an outdoor toilet. Aren’t you glad you asked. It could get rather cold on a wintry day. And you never, ever wanted to stand under one, which made me wonder what it was doing hanging over a gate. Maybe it was a defensive measure. Grin. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Join us next week as we take you along the Rhine River Valley and feature a whole plethora of castles and small towns along the way. Also, be sure to check in on Monday when we celebrate Halloween and blogging friends.
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20 thoughts on “Marksburg Castle, a Jewel in the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site”
Still chuckling over those suits of armour. What were they thinking?
They were amusing, Peggy. Kind of hard to remember that they were supposed to frighten you. 🙂 Thanks. –Curt
How much fun was that Curt and Peggy and thanks for the awesome tour!❣️
Loved every minute of a place I’ll never go… didn’t I just say “never say never in a post”? 🤣
Only because I still pay a mortgage and live vicariously through you..
: Ducky, Horny, Furry, or Flowery?
going with 🌺…..
I remember the flying nun had a bottom… grin.. 😆
Can’t wait for the Halloween Post.
Keep having fun!
One for flowery. Yay! Glad you had fun with the post, Cindy. 🙂 But never say never— not that we aren’t happy to share our experiences with you… Plus, your adventures are adventures of the soul. As for the Flying Nun, I too remember she had a bottom. And I think I remember her being cute. 🙂 Halloween post is up! Enjoy. –Curt
Cheers to that!! 🥂I wrote the in a post once… never say never 😂 One way or another we move from soul terrain to inner terrain for sure my friend. She was so darn cute!!! Oh I’ll be running over soon-:)
🙂 🙂 🙂
Well this had me laughing out loud. Several times. Don, on the other side of the room kept asking what I was laughing at 😂
The knights helmets (and your snarky way of presenting them 😂
The nun who’d lost her bottom 😂
The reason for the bird on the tapestry 😂 but I did very much enjoy the description that had me looking more closely at it.
And I did enjoy your snark about nobles claiming characteristics they may (or may not!) have.
Fun post. Hope you’re both enjoying your time with family.
Thanks, Alison. Glad to give you a laugh. 🙂 I included our visit on my Halloween post today. The visit was such fun! Great time with the rest of our visits. We are in Florence, Oregon today, one of our all-time favorite places to camp. After this we head on the Medford for more visiting and then on to Sacramento for more. I am beginning to feel like a social butterfly. Grin. –Curt
40 Castles along the way. How interesting. I always marvel at how the land was broken up into holdings in the medieval world with nobles in their castles rather close together (though a long walk I suppose). I knew about the short beds, sort of like the small size of cars that would come centuries later. People were a lot smaller in general. And the garderobe always cracks me up. That wall of the castle must have been disgusting. Ugh. Thanks for the photos. Looks like great fun.
Kind of the equivalent of robber barons, D. 🙂
I wonder if the few taller people were out of luck.
As for the garderobes, it gives a new perspective on pigeons, eh? Thanks. –Curt
Ha ha. I’d take the pigeons any day. 😀
This was great fun! I toured here but don’t remember all this…. Happy Halloween Curt & Peggy! 🎃🕷️👻🐈⬛🍭
Thanks, Cindy! Love all of you emojis! 🙂
A wonderful trip. Doesn’t it make you relieved you didn’t live in houses like that, back in the day? 😉
For sure, AC. 🙂 But I expect it probably beat some of the alternatives. Thanks. –Curt
You’re right, best to think how lucky we are in the here and now.
I kinda vaguely remember that castle from when we cruised the Rhine, but we didn’t get to see the inside of any of the various castles. Thanks for the up close and personal. I might vote for the duck, especially if he was feeling peckish.
There’s no question: I’d take the furry dude. If all else failed, he could tickle his opponent to death. I wondered if the ‘flying nun’ might have been a figurehead taken from the prow of a ship. The antlers look like an afterthought.
I started thinking about castles, and then skimming online images, and found this wonderful page. There are castles in places I’ve never imagined them, even if the definition is stretched a bit to include places I might call fortresses. No matter. They’re all beautiful; this one certainly is.