Burg Eltz offers tours, treasure vault

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American


Good to know

Burg Eltz is open April 1 to Nov. 1. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Tours leave every 15 to 20 minutes. (Tours are given in English only if there is a large group. Printed English translations are available for all other tours.) Admission is €6 for adults and €4.50 for children. Admission into the treasure vault is €2.50 for adults and €1.50 for children.
Directions: From Kaiserslautern, take A6 direction Mannheim, then A63 direction Mainz. Take A61 toward Koblenz. Exit Waldesch/Pfaffenheck and go toward Pfaffenheck. Continue on L207 toward Alken, until B49, then continue toward Cochem. Cross the bridge over the river to Löf and continue to Cochem on B416. Leave B416 in Hatzenport and go toward Münstermaifeld. In Münstermaifeld continue toward Wierschem and follow castle signs.

Inside the Great Hall of the Burg Eltz Castle, just below the massive crossbeams of this 14th century fortification hangs a “fools mask,” indicating that free speech is permitted to everyone in the room.

That says something about the way the Eltz family did business – a family who once elected Holy Roman Emperors and were among the most influential and powerful people in the Holy Roman Church.

On the opposite side of the room, there is a carved rose, indicating that what is said in the room, stays in the room.

These are details of a castle, that are beautiful, but also show the castle’s livability. It’s not the over-the-top gold studded walls of the fairy tale Neuschwanstein Castle. With its wooden furniture, faded tapestries and its giant mermaid chandelier, it isn’t difficult to imagine the Eltz family living here, working here, taking their breakfast by the window that overlooks the Eltz forest.

The Burg Eltz Castle is perched on a massive rock, surrounded by the Mosel River, once a major medieval trading route. Only a two-hour drive from Kaiserslautern, this castle is a must-visit. It’s good for a day trip, or make a romantic weekend of it, with walks along the winding Mosel River and dinner in the town of Münstermaifeld.

Still owned by the Eltz family, the castle complex is three castles, built by three brothers who divided the land and lived there together. Famed travel writer Rick Steves names the Burg Eltz his favorite castle in all of Europe.
Today, two of the castles are open to tourists and the third is the private residence of the Eltz family.

Inside, visitors will find a collection of weaponry, which used to be kept under lock and key, but sometime in the 19th century became fashionable as wall decorations. In the Rübenach lower hall, visitors will see windows made of blown molten glass and paintings on oak, instead of canvas.

Something else that makes this 800 year old home a castle, indoor toilets – 20 of them flushed with rainwater – indicating the home of a wealthy nobleman. In the Countesses’ room, visitors will see the oldest Renaissance bed in Germany, built in 1525. It’s just a simple wooden frame, but it survived 33 generations of the Eltz family history.

And finally, beneath the castle, there is a treasure vault of more than 500 items the Eltz family owned over the centuries, ranging from dishes to jewelry to ivory carvings. The two hour drive will take you 800 years back in time.