Historisches Lahnstein

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Martinsburg Castle

Martinsburg Castle

The Watch on the Rhine

Lahneck Castle, built by the Archbishop-Elector of Mainz Siegfried von Eppstein, is situated on a hill some distance from the Rhine. So in 1298, several years after its construction, his successor builds an additional fortification, the Martinsburg, directly beside the Rhine. Its purpose is the collection of tolls – a privilege which has been conferred upon him by the king.

After Oberlahnstein is granted its town charter in 1324, the ruler of the day has the town wall erected and uses the castle by the river as a corner bastion of the town’s new fortification. The old defence wall is still visible today to the north of the castle.

The Martinsburg is one of the few castles on the Middle Rhine that has survived intact. Its present appearance is dominated by numerous extensions and alterations, evidence that the medieval toll castle – a Burg – gradually became a residential castle – a Schloss. The individual buildings can be dated by the coats of arms of the archbishops who erected them. The first castle consisted of a tower house which today forms the north-west corner. The main tower, the north wing with its great hall and stair tower, the gate wall with its battlement walk and the adjoining Weinsberg Tower all date from the 14th century. The south wing with its Gothic hall is added in 1497. The Baroque central building follows in the year 1720, its interior decorated with beautiful stucco ceilings. The castle chapel is built in the north wing and dedicated to St. Bartholemew. In 1861 it becomes the first protestant church in Lahnstein.

Today it is hard to imagine that Martinsburg Castle was once surrounded by a deep moat. In 1785 this is filled in to make way for an English garden. Prior to this, access was only possible through the fortified outer ward with its outbuildings and over a bridge in front of the castle gate. In 1790 this secondary residence is given up and the buildings in the outer ward are sold at auction.

Today Martinsburg Castle is privately owned. In addition to private apartments, medical practices and business premises, this important cultural monument on the banks of the Rhine also houses Lahnstein’s Carnival Museum.