Drawbridge Gate

Entering the Marksburg, four gates have to be passed. The first one is a large drawbridge gate followed by a vaulted tunnel with an antique bookshop on the right, 500 years ago the room of the castle's gate keeper.

Fox Gate

The guided tour of the castle starts at the Fuchstor (Fox Gate) which is the second medieval gateway. (Remember to buy your ticket at the ticket desk in the gift shop!)

Arrow Slit Gate

Above the doorway of the third gate, the "Schartentor" (Arrow Slit Gate), there is a machicolation, a little oriel from which the defenders would throw stones onto attacking enemies' heads if they had advanced this far. The gateway in the "Vogtsturm" (Steward's Tower) was reduced in size towards the end of the 17th century.

Riders' Stairway

We have reached a wall display showing the succession of the various owners of Marksburg Castle and their coats of arms, starting with the Counts of Eppstein and ending with the Deutsche Burgenvereinigung (German Castles Association).

After climbing the "Riders Stairway", carved out of the bedrock centuries ago, we begin our walk through the castle.

Romanesque Palas

We are now in front of the oldest main residential building, the Romanesque Palas. It dates back to the year 1239 and underwent various changes in the following years. Today it houses the offices and the apartment of the general manager of the Deutsche Burgenvereinigung (German Castles Association). The Palas belongs to the areas of the castle that aren't part of the tour. Those parts were altered from the inside after the Middle Ages, when soldiers inhabited the castle for centuries.

Small Battery

The artillery battery in front of the Palas was added in 1711, today it includes the copy of one of the oldest firearms of that type in Germany, a cannon from 1450.

Great Battery

The large cannons in this "Great Battery" are aimed at the Rhine river. According to weight we differentiate between front-loading 6-pounder and 12-pounder cannons. With a reach of approx. 1000 meters, the soldiers were able to secure the Rhine valley in its whole width. The older part of this military construction was erected in 1589, the latter half in 1711.

Garden

We continue into the Upper Bailey that boasts a unique medieval herb garden consisting of two patches of about 150 plants known in Europe in the Middle Ages. Most of them are important medical plants and spices, but some like the mandrake or the Devil's snare were said to be used by witches, while others like the deadly nightshade and the hemlock are very poinsonous.

Wine Cellar

After climbing a wooden staircase, we reach the centre of the castle: the courtyard with the impressive central tower, referred to as the keep. We now proceed to the wine cellar with its 17th century interior.

Castle Kitchen

The kitchen is situated on the ground floor of the Gothic Hall Building from 1435. The kitchen was usually solely a place for the servants while the noble family dined in their own hall upstairs.

Bed Chamber

The first room on the next floor is the noble family's bedchamber, furnished with wood panelling, a canopied four poster bed, a cradle and a seating and reading area in the window niche. It was one of the few rooms in the castle to be heated by a stove.

Great Hall

The adjoining room is the impressive Great Hall, the very heart of courtly life. As a combined living and dining room, leisure time was spent playing chess or making music while rare entertainment as provided by travelling singers who would also spread news and gossip. A small passage through he outer wall leads up to the medieval toilet, a privy.

Chapel

Next we enter the 14th century chapel, part of the chapel tower, with its beautifully painted walls and ceilings. Small at first glance, we have to bear in mind that the chapel would only have been used by the noble family for daily prayers and services. In on of the niches, we can see a statue which is a copy of a 15th century Rhenish Virgin Mary.

Rhine Wing

A narrow staircase built into the wall passing the castle chaplain's study takes us to the next floor and into the most modern building, the Rhine Wing, erected in 1706. It houses a display of tools for flax and linen, as well as household items from pre-industrial times.

Armoury

Our next stop is one of the tour's highlights: the "Gimbel Collection", a display of twelve life-sized figurines from 1880 which demonstrates the changes made to armour and weaponry from ancient to early modern times. The armour on display consists of extremely detailed replicas as well as original pieces. Artefacts from excavation work carried out in and around the castle grounds - coins, glass, arrow heads, dice - are on display in a glass cabinet.

Keep

In the middle of the courtyard we are greeted by the narrow keep – not so much a residential tower but mainly used as a watchtower and a status symbol. The lower part was built in 1239, the top part was added in 1468.
Due to the extremely narrow and steep uneven stairway in its centre it is simply not accessible for visitors to climb the tower - there is no emergency exit whatsoever and people can't pass each other on the stairs at all.

Former Stables (Torture Exhibition)

The oldest part of the castle, the basement of the Romanesque Palas, where the old horse stables used to be, is in use as display space for a small exhibition about torture and punishment in the Middle Ages and early modern days.

Blacksmith's Workshop

The small room built into the rock provides a good impression of what we should imagine a late medieval forge to look like.