Europe’s Castles: Find Your Own Camelot – II
Part 2: Mad King Ludwig and Ehrenberg
By Laura B. Foy
Since Germany can be considered castle country, with numerous unique fortifications in the
Rhine/Mosel region to the fantasy-filled castles of Bavaria, I have more than one favorite.
Burg Eltz Castle, Rhine/Mosel
Burg Eltz Castle
Germany’s best medieval castle experience in the Rhine/Mosel region is the Burg Eltz Castle,
nestled in an enchanted forest. The Eltz is the epitome of medieval, fairytale castles with
its graceful spires and towers. With the exception of a five-year siege from 1331-1336, it
never again came to armed conflict and remains incredibly well preserved. Due to the shrewd
political maneuvering, the castle has remained in the hands of the Eltz family for more than
The only way to see the elegantly furnished castle is with a
tour, included in the admission ticket.
Call ahead to see if an English tour is scheduled. You won’t be disappointed. Also, make
sure you have detailed directions to
the Eltz prior to departure.
The must see castle stop in Bavaria near FÃƒÂ¼ssen is Germany’s 19th century, Disney-like
Neuschwanstein Castle. It is the greatest of King Ludwig II’s fairy-tale castles. His
over-the-top opulence and romanticism earned this Bavarian king the title
“Mad King Ludwig”. Ludwig
constructed his medieval fantasy high in the Bavarian Alps, not for defensive reasons, but
because he liked the spectacular view.
The castle’s lavish interior was equipped with many technical and revolutionary
conveniences, including running water on all floors from a nearby spring, automatic toilet
flushing on every floor, heating system for entire building, and a hot water system.
Unfortunately, King Ludwig II was never to fully enjoy his medieval fantasy come true as
he was later found dead in a lake under suspicious circumstances.
Ludwig’s castle is one of Europe’s most popular attractions. Get there early. Take the
fascinating (and required) tour in your language of choice. You can reserve your
conveniently online and check out
opening hours, admission fees, and directions.
After the tour, climb further up the hill to Mary’s Bridge (named after Ludwig’s mother)
for the best view of this majestic castle and surrounding countryside. Ludwig’s boyhood home,
the Hohenschwangau Castle at the foot of the hill, offers a better look at Ludwig’s life and
far fewer crowds.
After your visit to Bavaria’s fantasyland castle, make a short trip over the German-Austrian border
to Reutte and catch the Ehrenberg Ruins for a completely authentic castle experience. Perched on a small
hill overlooking the town of Reutte are the Ehrenberg ruins amidst a peaceful valley. A great
bird’s-eye view awaits you from your own private ruins just a short hike up from the parking
Ehrenberg, which means mountain of honor, was built in the year 1290 by Count Meinhard II
of Tyrol. For centuries, this castle ruled this Tyrolean area, able to repel 16,000 Swedish
soldiers in the defense of Catholicism in 1632. Ehrenberg witnessed other battles but soon
after, languished in disrepair leaving behind this intriguing and provocative history. Today
you will see a few of the 700 year old castle walls still standing amongst the desolate ruins.
Castles of France and Portugal