Sunday, November 18, 2012

BRAUBACH, GERMANY: MARKSBURG CASTLE

Marksburg Castle was the only castle on the mid-Rhine that was not substantially destroyed at one time or another through the centuries, although it was heavily damaged by American shelling during World War II. Today it is the best-preserved castle on the Rhine and is open for tours.
The castle, in all its imperial majesty, has been the crown of the quaint town of Braubach (current population 3,000) since 1231:

We took a bus up the hill and then walked the last little bit.  It would be quite a climb from the Rhine to the castle on foot:


Note how the castle entrance was made significantly smaller by filling in the doorway with stone.  That's so enemies on horseback couldn't ride through the gate:


Each of these coats of arms represents a family who at one time owned the castle.  I guess the real estate market was pretty volatile back then:

Steps worn down by almost eight centuries of feet and hooves:
Our classic "Cannon with a cannon" picture.  We must have a hundred of these by now:
Angie and Chris admiring the view:
I really like the idea of this piece of architecture.  Our guide told us it was a toilet (there is a big round hole in the bottom of it), but other sources call it the "Murder Hole" and say castle defenders could pour pitch or drop heavy stones through the bottom of this onto the heads of unsuspecting invaders passing beneath:
(Now HOW did this picture of Dave end up right under the Murder Hole?)

There was a lovely garden of over 120 medieval herbs. Supposedly, there is even some hemlock in the garden, which I looked for but couldn't find:
We enjoyed the living history displays:
Do you see the rat in the center of the picture?

Since wine was the most common drink of this region, the wine cellar was very important:

One of the many castle bedrooms:
I really liked the hand-drawn and painted wallpaper, even though it was a bit faded:

A great display of body armor, lined up in chronological order, represents 2,000 years of people who couldn't get along. I'm glad we don't have to wear this stuff anymore now that we make most of our personal attacks on rulers and magistrates through Facebook:
A full suit of armor weighs 80 pounds. Our guide told us that soldiers would lift their visors to take a breath or to show their face to a fellow soldier, and that is the origin of the military salute.

There was also a small chapel dedicated to St. Mark (hence, "Marksburg"), an important feature if you happen to be under seige for a few months:
The ceiling paintings are faux-old as they were painted just over 100 years ago in 1903:

And last but not least, the torture chamber, the oldest room in the castle.  No good castle is without one. How would you like to have this heavy stone tied to your leg or neck?
These "masks of shame" were used to punish various crimes. Not very fun if you happen to have claustrophobia.
I really wanted to test one of these on my brother (just to get a visual, you know), but the museum people wouldn't unlock the case.  Darn.

COMING UP: GONDOLAS AND MAGNUM BARS

4 comments:

  1. Gotta say, these castles are all blurring together for me....I remember them, but I don't remember which castle had which features. I guess I'll have to make a return trip to straighten them all out in my mind.

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  2. Very interesting, I am glad I didn't live back then. I don't think I would've wanted to walk up and down that hill every day.

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  3. Castles were certainly not cozy. If these were the rich people, imagine how bad it was for the poor people.

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  4. I think the best line of your post is "represents 2,000 years of people who couldn't get along." along with how we make all our attacks via FB. Classic! Fun to see inside this castle. I figured out long ago that I'll take my smaller, non-hilltop view with a hot shower over these stone walls any day.

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