Gräfenstein Castle hosts medieval fest

by Petra Lessoing
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

For the 14th time, Gräfenstein Castle, near Merzalben, will be the stage for a medieval fest today through Sunday. The event, organized by the community of Merzalben and the Phantasia Historica medieval group, will feature musical entertainment, juggling, show fights, fire shows and children’s activities.

“Many participants who joined us last year agreed to come again this weekend,” said organizer Angelika Simgen.

In the knights’ camp, different groups will present sword fights and lansquenets (German mercenaries) will perform funny plays. Jugglers and fire-eaters will show off their skills and musical groups will perform medieval songs on unique instruments. Children can fight against strong Vikings, listen to Absolom’s stories and watch William’s magic skills.

Witches and magicians will offer miraculous items and herbs, and fortune tellers will let visitors know what to expect in the future.

“To get an idea of the Middle Ages, visitors can watch craftsmen showing off their work,” Simgen said. “We have blacksmiths, weavers, wood-carvers, stone masons, potters, soap-makers and basket-makers demonstrating and selling their medieval crafts.”

A variety of food and beverage specialties will be available.

Fest hours will be from 5 to 10:30 p.m. today, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Admission is €6 for adults, €2 for children, and children shorter than a sword (1.30 meters) are admitted free.

Today, tickets cost half price. Visitors in medieval costumes only pay €3. A ticket for all three days is €12; the two-day ticket is €10.

“We are looking forward to a great spectacle and hope to be able to greet many visitors from all over,” Simgen said.

Gräfenstein Castle is a rock castle near the town of Merzalben. The upper castle is built on a 12-meter tall oval-shaped sandstone with a keep with seven corners and a great palace, three floors tall. In the lower castle, there are parts of the forcer and remaining walls. In its beginning, Gräfenstein served as an administration center for the surrounding farms and villages, also providing their defense.

In 1220, Gräfenstein Castle was first mentioned in a document.

During the Thirty Years War, Gräfenstein was burned down accidentally in 1635 when imperial troops, who used the castle as a garrison, were careless with fire. Since then, Gräfenstein Castle has lain in ruins. In the 20th century, the castle was partially renovated. It is now open to visitors throughout the year.

Merzalben is located northeast of Pirmasens. To get there, take B270 toward Waldfischbach-Burgalben, then left to Donsieders, Clausen and Merzalben. Past Merzalben, take a right toward the castle. Visitors can walk up to the castle by foot or take a shuttle bus.

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