In the Middle Ages Niederlahnstein is dominated by several magnificent aristocratic residences. They are the homes of the Märker, members of the lower German nobility, who serve as Burgmannen in nearby castles. Their task is to guard the castles and to defend them in times of war. The rivers separate them from their places of work. Stolzenfels Castle which, like Niederlahnstein, belongs to the Electorate of Trier, lies on the other bank of the Rhine. Lahneck Castle stands within eyeshot on the opposite bank of the Lahn in the Electorate of Mainz. Oddly enough, Burgmannen from Niederlahnstein who carry out their duties there are obliged to cross the border in order to come to the aid of their liege.
In return for their loyal services, the Märker are granted fiefs and extensive rights by their particular castle Lord. In peaceful times they live in their residences in Niederlahnstein. As the town has neither a castle nor a wall, they surround their properties with their own defensive walls in order to demonstrate their power and to keep out common folk.
The Nassau-Sporkenburger Hof is a three-storied Gothic stone building dating from the 14th century. In the year 1527 it passes by pledge into the hands of Quirin von Nassau, the bailiff of Wellmich. He has it converted into a stately residence and adds the striking octagonal stair-tower. His coat of arms, a golden lion with seven silver balls, can be seen at the tower’s entrance portal. The property is continually enlarged by the purchase of additional buildings.
Like six other medieval Märkerhöfe in Niederlahnstein, the Nassau-Sporkenburger Hof has survived the ravages of time. Between 1992 and 1997 this listed building undergoes extensive restoration and a new building is added. Today it serves as an arts centre and is the home of Lahnstein’s municipal theatre.