The unique architecture and position of Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle is different. It remained unscathed by wars. It has been owned and cared for by the same family from when it was built until today. Its architecture has no comparison and many of the original furnishings of the past eight centuries still remain in place. It houses rustic suits of armour, swords and halberds as well as magnificent courtly gold and silver artefacts. It towers high on a large rock set deep in a valley. It stands in the midst of the Eltz Forest, a nature reserve of serene beauty, which offers numerous hiking trails and outdoor areas for sports and recreation for all age groups.

Everything you need to know to visit Eltz Castle, Germany - WanderInspire

The section “The Castle” shows and describes the highlights of our medieval fairy-tale castle. It gives information about the Architecture & Setting as well as Plans & Construction Timeline of the “quintessential castle” (Georg Dehio). It also gives a Guided Tour of the Castle and Treasury, Historic Depictions and the Eltz Nature Reserve.

Enjoy your stay in our ancestral home.

Johann Jakob Graf zu Eltz.

The unique architecture and position of Eltz Castle

The architecture of Eltz Castle is the main attraction: its eight towers, soaring up to 35 metres high, its oriels, roofs, timber frame structures and turrets make it the epitome of a medieval castle.

Eltz Castle | Cultural Heritage to-go

What makes it iconic is also its unrivalled location: set in the midst of a forest, deep down in a valley, far from any modern buildings and entirely surrounded by a natural paradise, it allows visitors to experience a medieval dream.

In the Gallery you can see the castle from all directions.

Burg Eltz Buch von Ute Ritzenhofen bei Weltbild.ch bestellen

  • Eltz Castle with outer courtyard and the houses Rodendorf (left) and Rübenach (right) Perched on a 60 m high rock surrounded on three sides by the Elzbach and nestled within the historic Eltz Forest. © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • View from the northeast in early sunlight Seen from the big bend, in the foreground the outer bailey, the coach house of 1350 and behind it the residential tower of Groß Rodendorf, of 1520. © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • Eltz Castle, near the moat with its walled bridge leading to the castle gate. In medieval times this access was protected by a drawbridge. © Raphael Schaaf
  • Eastern aspect of Eltz Castle from the Kuhhirtskopf, (from left to right) Goldsmith’s House, Craftsmen’s Houses and the Coach House in the outer bailey, Groß and Klein Rodendorf, three Kempenich houses and Platteltz (detail) in the central castle.  © F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden
  • The roofs of Eltz Castle, newly decked with slate from the Moselle in 2011, with (from left to right) Rodendorf, Kempenich and Platteltz and the older Rübenach roof in the rear, view from the east. © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • South aspect of the Castle, Platteltz on the left (erected 1150 to 1260) and the Kempenich Houses on the right (built 1150 to 1660). © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • The inner courtyard, panoramic view Built over 500 years (1150-1650), it shows how closely three branches of the family and a total of 180 people lived together in Klein Rodendorf (1-2 o-clock), Groß Rodendorf (3-4 o-clock, Rübenach (5-7 o-clock), Platteltz (8-9 o-clock) and Kempenich (10-12 o-clock). © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • view towards the east, Rübenach on the left, Kempenich in the centre and Platteltz on the right . © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • Eltz Castle deep in the forest, view from afar from the west. © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • Aerial view of Eltz Castle from the west; in the foreground the outer fortifications with two towers which were razed after the Eltz Feud in 1336; in the central castle (from left to right) Platteltz, Kempenich (rear), Rübenach and Rodendorf; in the outer castle the Gatekeeper’s House, the Craftsmens’ House and the Goldsmith’s House. © F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • Eltz as a high and mighty castle, seen from the western Eltzbach Valley © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • View very similar to the famous view of Eltz Castle on the 500 DM bank note © Dieter Ritzenhofen

Sections, Plans and Building History

Cross Section

The castle was built to secure the trade routes between Mosel, Maifeld and Eifel. There are remains of Celtic and Roman fortifications in this spot too.

The castle’s situation in such a strategic position meant that it remained unconquered until the invention of long-range catapults (trebuchets) and the erection of siege castles under Elector Balduin of Trier in the early 14th century, who eventually forced the rulers of Eltz to surrender in 1336.

General Plan of the Castle

The General Plan shows the floorplan of the castle complex with the different houses which were inhabited by the three branches of the family, the outer castle and the outer fortifications.

Further Information regarding – “The architectural chronicle of the castle” and “Nine centuries House of Eltz“– can be found in our History section.

The guided tour – a journey through nine centuries in one Castle

The tour of Eltz Castle (for entrance fees, times and duration see Opening Hours, Entrance Fees and Practical Information) is an exciting and informative but also entertaining journey through 900 years of German architecture and culture.

You will discover a wide range of Medieval and early modern architecture and many interiors that have survived largely unchanged. The Castle houses artworks and crafts of European, national, or regional significance as well as weapons and every-day items from 8 centuries.

The Gallery shows photographs of the interiors that are visited during the guided tour.

  • The entrance to Rübenach House was converted into an Armoury during the Romantic period. It contains the oldest surviving cannon bolts in the world,  swords, halberds, shields, bows and arrows as well as muskets of the 14th to 17th century.    ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden
  • This was the living room of the Eltz-Rübenach family. It was built in 1311 and houses the famous painting “Madonna with Child and Grapes”, a world-class  masterpiece  by Lucas Cranach the Elder.   ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • The Rübenach Upper Hall or Bed Chamber This large living quarter with its ornamental murals of 1450 by a Burgundy artist is also referred to as the Bed Chamber because of the large, carved four-poster bed in this room.  ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • Chapel Oriel in the Bed Chamber The east wall of the Bed Chamber is adorned with a dainty Gothic chapel oriel with its sacral leaded windows of 1520 depicting the Eltz donors.     ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • The Dressing Room, adjoining  the Bed Chamber is also decorated with 15th century murals  – floral and figurative images –  such as Jutta and Lanzelot of Eltz of the line “with the Silver Lion” and the date 1451.   ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • In 1881 Count Karl furnished the room above the Rübenach entrance as a study for his wife Ludwine. The murals depict Late-Gothic vines framing portraits  of himself and his two sons and six daughters in Romantic poses.   ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • The Prince Elector’s Room This room is named after the two Electors from the house of Eltz, Jakob zu Eltz of Trier (1567-1581) and Philipp Carl zu Eltz of Mainz (1732 bis 1743). Its original furnishings document the stylistic developments during the 17th and 18th century.   ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • This late medieval hall of 1520 was used for festivities and as a meeting hall by all three branches of the family on Eltz Castle. Remarkable are  the original heavy oak ceiling, the heraldic frieze, the original floor tiles as well as some beautiful suits of armour, the jester masks and the rose of silence.    ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • The Angel or Hunting Room This pentagonal room  contains hunting weapons and trophies, furniture with fine intarsia and an old embrasure dating from the construction period   of the castle. Next-door is the attic of the Castle Chapel with a collection of model cannons.  ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • The Wambolt Room, named after the family of Count Karl’s mother (1823-1900), is furnished with beautifully carved and inlayed furniture, Dutch portraits,  a tapestry of 1600, as well as historic household implements: a clothes press, a spinning wheel and a reel dating from the 17th and 18th century.  ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • The Countess’ Room or Nursery This small chamber is referred to as Countess’ Room or Nursery because of the paintings of children and young members of the House of Eltz or their relatives.   Here you can also see the probably oldest surviving painted Renaissance bed in Germany, which was made around 1525.  ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • The Banner Hall of around 1480  with its opulent,  late Gothic Rhenish net vault  is the most spectacular room  in the castle.  It was probably a chapel before being integrated into Groß Rodendorf House around 1510.  Later it was used as a living and dining room.  ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • The 15th century  Rodendorf Kitchen is one of originally four kitchens in Eltz Castle. The objects displayed here date from the 15th to the 19th century.  ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.

The Treasury of Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle | Cultural Heritage to-go

The Eltz Castle Treasury comprises one of the most important private collections with more than 500 exhibits from nine centuries (see also the picture gallery on this page).

The exhibition focuses on artworks by German gold and silver smiths, particularly from Augsburg and Nuremberg.  Other items on display include  precious glass and porcelain, extravagant jewellery, ceremonial and real weapons as well as other curiosities from more than 800 years.

The Gallery shows 15 of over 500 exhibits in the treasury.

  • Drinking vessel “Gluttony being Conveyed by Drunkenness”, Cast silver, gold-plated, Christoph Lindenberger, Nuremberg 1557.   Curiosities were essential to all aristocratic collections in the 16th and 17th century, particularly masterpieces of gold and silver smithing like this grotesque  drinking vessel.   © Slomifoto
  • Statue of St. John of Nepomuk, Silver, partly gold-plated, Franz Christoph Mäderl, Augsburg, 1752. The last Faust von Stromberg gave this statue to his daughter on her wedding day under the condition that it should never be sold and that all her Eltz descendants should be named after her “gen. Faust (or Faustin) von Stomberg”. This tradition is still upheld today.    © Slomifoto
  • combination weapon combining a flintlock pistol with battle axe fittings,Steel. Oak, ivory and mother-of-pearl inlay, Germany around 1600.  It was hard for soldiers to attack on horseback while wielding several weapons at once. This explains the popularity and efficiency of these combination weapons.    © Slomifoto
  • Cups depicting Eltz Castle Viennese porcelain, around 1840.  This early depiction of Eltz Castle shows that the castle has remained nearly unchanged since the early 19th century. These “castle cups” were fashionable collectors’ items during the period of Romanticism.    © Slomifoto
  • When a prince stopped over at Eltz Castle he had to pay 40 pieces of gold and give the gatekeeper two crossbows. This allowed him and his entourage to stay at the castle for up to one year, as was stipulated in the castle rules.     © Slomifoto
  • Golden chain with a medallion depicting King Gabriel of Hungary of 1620 Fitted with gemstones and enamel, Hungary around 1880.  This formed part of the decoration of the Hungarian Magnate’s uniform  made of brocade and with sable trimmings.Count Karl,the present owner’s grandfather, wore it at the coronation of Emperor Charles I of Austria in Budapest in 1916.    ©Slomifoto
  • Travelling cutlery set of Philipp Karl Eltz, Elector of Mainz mother-of-pearl, silver and jasper, Mainz around 1730.  Forks were only gradually introduced in the 17th century. Before then people used knives and spoons and, of course, their hands.    © Slomifoto
  • The “Dukatenscheisser” (“Man ‘shitting’ gold ducats”) Ivory and gold-plated wood, Amsterdam around 1650.  Golden geese (or in Germany golden donkeys) or “Ducat shitters” are mythological creatures,  which were brought to life by artists displaying a  tongue-in-cheek humour.    ©Slomifoto
  • Amber, fittings bronze, gold-plated. Baltic Sea region around 1680. Amber was very popular in the 17th and 18th century.  Drinking vessels of this outstanding quality were mostly gifts from  Prussian, Polish or Russian sovereigns.     © Slomifoto
  • Ivory, silver, gold-plated, Strasbourg around 1680. This is not only a particularly magnificent drinking vessel showing the typical gestures of early French Baroque, but it was also fully functional. L’  art   pour   l’art – purely decorative and not practical – did not exist in those days.     © Slomifoto
  • Bracelet with a portrait of Empress Josephine, Gold, lapis lazuli, diamonds, France around 1810. After the dethronement of Emperor  Napoléon,  most jewellery depicting the Imperial family was melted down. Poverty was great in the exploited states of the Deutscher Bund after 1815 and people hated their long-term oppressors.     © Slomifoto
  • of Johann Friedrich Carl von Ostein, Elector of Mainz, awarded to Count Anselm Kasimir zu Eltz, silver, gold-plated, Mainz around 1750. Sovereigns honoured their allies by presenting them with chamberlain’s keys. They were to be worn on a ribbon in a visible position and symbolized the privilege of having access to the sovereign’s private apartments at all times.    ©  Slomifoto
  • Herkules, Atlas and Chronos Silver, partly gold plated, Abraham Drentwett II, Augsburg, around 1685.   The three figures Hercules, Atlas and Chronos, bearing the terrestrial, the celestial and the planet globes at Eltz Castle were conceived as a group of 12 figures for a large clock by this master, which was never completed.    © Slomifoto
  • Diana, the Goddess of Hunting, riding a stag Joachim Friess, Augsburg around 1600.  Mechanical drinking game on wheels, silver, partly gold-plated, Diana was wound up and then moved around the table. Wherever she stopped,  the man had to empty the stag and the woman had to empty the dog, both of which were filled with wine. Both cups were connected with short chains,  thus forcing the drinkers to get close.    © Slomifoto
  • Flintlock Rifle of Elector Philipp Karl Franz-Joseph Mahr, Dresden around 1730.  Elector Philipp Carl was an enthusiastic hunter, leaving approximately two dozen magnificent guns from the first half of the 18th century.    © Slomifoto

Important Information for all Visitors:

The numerous attractions in the Armoury and Treasury can be visited at any time during the opening hours. The exhibits are well labelled.  There are no guided tours through this exhibition. Your entrance ticket includes your visit to the Armoury and Treasury.

Foreign visitors are given a free brochure with an English translation of the labels at the entrance to the museum.

Historic Depictions of Eltz Castle

By the end of the Middle Ages aristocratic families preferred residing in residences and palaces in towns rather than in the old castles. This is the reason why castles, including Eltz Castle, were only rarely depicted in art, except possibly as evidence of the ancestral home in a genealogical table.

This changed with the onset of the Romantic period after 1800. Eltz Castle became the object of Romanticists’ dreams, and a visit was considered obligatory for painters and writers from all over Europe. Visitors to Eltz Castle included, among others, the British painter William Turner and the French author Victor Hugo.

After 1820 travel journals and graphic art of Eltz Castle were published in great numbers and sold throughout Europe.  One could refer to them as  an early form of today’s Instagram boom.

In the Gallery you will find pictures of the Castle from three centuries.

  • Genealogical Table of Johann Jakob zu Eltz, Leaning against his family tree outside his ancestral home Eltz Castle.  Oil on Canvas, unknown Rhenish painter, around 1670.  The oldest depiction of Eltz Castle.  ©  F.G. Zeitz e.K.- Martin Jermann – Berchtesgaden.
  • Eltz Castle from the East, Oil on canvas, Domenico Quaglio, 1812.  D. Quaglio, 1787-1837, is considered one of the most important painters of architecture in German Romanticism.  © 2000 Christie’s Images Limited
  • Eltz Castle with the Ruin of Trutzeltz, from the north, oil on canvas,    Anton Diezler, 1838,    A. Diezler was the son of the above-mentioned Johann Jakob Diezler and a well-known painter of landscapes and vedutas of the Biedermeier period.   ©  Keune Stiftung – Sammlung RheinRomantik
  • view from the front, lithograph,  Clarkson  Stanfield , 1838
  • with the ruin of Trutzeltz, view from the east, watercolour, William Mallord Turner, 1841  W. M. Turner, 1775-1851, was one of the most important artists in England during the Romantic period. Turner painted a dozen watercolours and drawings of Eltz Castle.   © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • Eltz Castle with the Trutzeltz Ruin and a Farm in the Eltzbach Valley,  view from the southeast, lithograph, unknown artist, around 1850.    © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • View from the east, pen and ink with watercolour and white highlights over pencil, Caspar Johann Nepomuk Scheuren, 1856.  C. Scheuren is considered one of the most important Rhenish painters of the 19th century.   © Staatliche Kunsthalle Karsruhe
  • Eltz Castle with the Trutzeltz Ruin,  View from the southwest Eltzbach Valley,   watercolour, Charles James Lauder, around 1865,  C. Lauder, 1841 – 1920, was a Scottish landscape and historical painter.  © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • Eltz Castle seen from the northwest, lithograph by v. Francais, after a drawing by  Baron de Bar, around 1870   © Dieter Ritzenhofen
  • view from the eastern castle mound, oil on canvas, around 1875, by an unknown German painter from the circle around Carl Spitzweg.  © Dieter Ritzenhofen

A Castle set within a Natural Paradise

Surrounded by forests, far from any roads or modern buildings, Eltz Castle epitomises the fantasy of the untouched, unpopulated Middle Ages like no other historic building in the country.

More than 300 hectares of the Eltz Forest have been declared a nature reserve by Flora-Fauna-Habitat and Natura 2000. This comprises the flood meadows of the Eltzbach Valley as well as the forests on the steep slopes that once supplied fuel for the castle. The forest has been declared an “Arboretum”, a forest with a particularly rich variety of rare indigenous and foreign tree species.

The Eltz Nature Reserve is home to all the typical, and also some very rare, animal and plant species found in or near water, in brushwood or in forest biotopes.

This precious biotope can only survive if hikers, horse-riders and cyclists remain on the dedicated paths.  
Please help us to preserve this natural paradise.

Please comply with our house rules in the Eltz Forest.