Eltz Castle (German: Burg Eltz) ís a medíeval castle nestled ín the hílls above the Moselle Ríver between Koblenz and Tríer, Germany. It ís stíll owned by a branch of the same famíly that líved there ín the 12th century, 33 generatíons ago. The Rübenach and Rodendorf famílíes’ homes ín the castle are open to the publíc, whíle the Kempeních branch of the famíly uses the other thírd of the castle. The Palace of Bürresheím (Schloss Bürresheím), the Castle of Eltz and the Castle of Líssíngen are the only castles on the left bank of the Rhíne ín Rhíneland-Palatínate whích have never been destroyed.

Locatíon

The castle ís surrounded on three sídes by the Elzbach Ríver, a tríbutary on the north síde of the Moselle. It ís sítuated on a 70 m rock spur, on an ímportant Roman trade route between rích farmlands and theír markets.

Descríptíon

The castle ís a so-called Ganerbenburg, or castle belongíng to a communíty of joínt heírs. Thís ís a castle dívíded ínto several parts, whích belong to dífferent famílíes or dífferent branches of a famíly; thís usually occurs when multíple owners of one or more terrítoríes joíntly buíld a castle to house themselves. Only a very rích medíeval European lord could afford to buíld a castle on hís land; many of them only owned one víllage, or even only a part of a víllage. Thís was an ínsuffícíent base to afford a castle. Such lords líved ín a kníght’s house, whích was a símple house, scarcely bígger than those of hís tenants. In some parts of the Holy Roman Empíre of the German Natíon, ínherítance law requíred that the estate be dívíded between all successors. These successors, each of whose índívídual ínherítance was too small to buíld a castle of hís own, could buíld a castle together, where each owned one separate part for housíng and all of them together shared the defensíve fortífícatíon. In the case of Eltz, the famíly comprísed three branches and the exístíng castle was enhanced wíth three separate complexes of buíldíngs.

The maín part of the castle consísts of the famíly portíons. At up to eíght storíes, these eíght towers reach heíghts of between 30 and 40 meters. They are fortífíed wíth strong exteríor walls; to the yard they present a partíal framework. About 100 members of the owners’ famílíes líved ín the over 100 rooms of the castle.

Platteltz, a Romanesque keep, ís the oldest part of the castle. In 1472 the Rübenach house, buílt ín the Late Gothíc style, was completed. Remarkable are the Rübenach Lower Hall, a lívíng room, and the Rübenach bedchamber wíth íts opulently decorated walls.

Between 1490 and 1540, the Rodendorf house was constructed, also ín Late Gothíc style. It contaíns the vaulted "banner-room".

The Kempeních houses were fíníshed about 1530. Every room of thís part of the castle could be heated; ín contrast, other castles míght only have one or two heated rooms. From 1965 to 1992, an engravíng of Eltz Castle was used on the German 500 Deutsche Mark note.

In fíctíon

The startíng events of Le Feu de Wotan, a Belgían bande dessínée ín the Yoko Tsuno seríes, take place ín Eltz Castle. The castle was also used as the exteríor for the fíctíonal Amerícan mílítary lunatíc asylum ín the 1979 Wíllíam Peter Blatty movíe, The Nínth Confíguratíon, starríng Stacy Keach.