Today we headed back toward the northern part of the Mosel and then into the hills to visit Burg Eltz. The castle is tucked away in a hidden valley standing high on a rock in a glade of trees. The castle is now owned by a present day descendent of the Eltz family who erected a dwelling on the site nearly a thousand years ago. With the surrounding forest for food from their high vantage point the family controlled traffic between the fertile Maifeld plateau and the Mosel River, a major medieval trade route. Its position on the rock was stunning when you came round the corner and saw it for the first time.
In the 15th and 16th centuries, three separate braches of the family (Rubenach, Rodendorf and Kempenich) built their homes in the castle complex. Our tour of the castle took us through the Rubenach and Rodendorf Houses. (No photos were allowed) As always there were fallouts between the families however the trouble makers were banned from the castle for a period of time from a week to several years and when they returned they had to pay a fine. An interesting concept! Despite many wars in the region including WWII the castle has never been damaged not because of its remote location but because of far reaching political and social networks of the family members.
The castle was very baronial and light. There was a common area between the houses, the Great Hall which was the council room for the family. There was a number of fools masks in this room which indicated that free speech was permitted to everyone inside However in the door lintel was a rose carved in stone (a symbol of silence) meant that anything said in council could not be repeated outside the room. We wondered how often this rule was broken.
In addition to the tour there was a wonderful Armoury and Treasury with some interesting pieces including one called “Gluttony being conveyed by Drunkenness” Some pieces were just exquisite and unusual.
It had been an interesting visit and very different to the castles in England.