Mosel, Germany: Mosel River and Burg Eltz Castle


The Mosel moseys 300 miles
from its source in France where it’s called
the Moselle. This stretch, just before
it meets the Rhine, is the most interesting. The Mosel is the Rhine’s
peaceful little sister, with Romantic villages slipped between steep
vineyards and the river, lots of friendly B&Bs and a sprinkling
of castles. Boat, train, and car traffic
here is a trickle compared to the
roaring Rhine. The town of Cochem is
the main tourist center, easily accessible by train,
with a cobbled old center, and a delightful
waterfront pRomenade. It has a storybook castle,
but Cochem Castle is actually a 19th-century
reconstruction, more fanciful than
authentic. For a more real-castle
experience, we’re visiting Burg Eltz. Hiding out for 800 years
in a mysterious forest, it’s been left
amazingly intact. This is my favorite castle
in all of Europe. Visitors assemble
in the central courtyard, the common ground of a tiny
fortified community. From here, groups are guided
through the castle. The place is truly authentic,
furnished throughout basically as it was
500 years ago. That’s rare in castles. Thanks to smart diplomacy
and clever marriages, Burg Eltz avoided wars
and was never destroyed. It’s been in the Eltz family
for eight centuries. The present countess
loves flowers and adorns each room
with fresh bouquets weekly. The nobles from three
branches of the Eltz family, who shared this
fortification, met and worked out their
problems here, in the grand gallery. The decor had meaning. Since the jester could say
anything to the king, this relief reminded people
they should talk freely. But the rose of silence
reminded them that what’s said in here
should stay private. The master bedroom was
finely decorated and as comfortable
as possible back then. It came with a toilet,
one of 20 in the castle, each flushed, occasionally,
by rain water. This bed is about 500 years old. It’s built high
because hot air rises. The canopy is romantic now,
but back then it was practical. It kept the heat in
and the bugs out. The castle’s
500-year-old wall paintings help you imagine
who lived here. In the bedroom,
the theme, a festival of phallic
and fertility symbols, hints at a playful
and lusty world. Burg Eltz has a lacy
little Gothic chapel. The paintings and stained
glass are also 500 years
old. The chapel was
on a lower floor. Because it was disrespectful
to live above the house of
God, the chapel juts out, cleverly
filling a bay window. All these castles are
remnants of Europe’s feudal
system. Feudalism was
the social structure that came out of the chaos
and fragmentation that followed the
fall of Rome.

17 thoughts on “Mosel, Germany: Mosel River and Burg Eltz Castle

  1. You're absolutely right Rick. Burg Eltz is the most beautiful castle in Europe. Undamaged and intact. The Count Eltz still lives in parts of the castle.

  2. Thank you Steve! Without your report we would have missed Burg Eltz. Off the beaten path, It is a fascinating place and well worth the effort to get there. My wife and I were there last week. At the present time the castle is undergoing some much needed structural repairs but the tours are still fully open.

  3. The Burg Eltz intro classical song sounds great, I wonder what it's called? It almost sounds like Moby's "God Moving Over The Face Of The Waters"

  4. You posted quite a while ago so you might never get this, but I'm pretty sure that intro is something by Hayden.

  5. Well I can see why it's your favorite! Just absolutely incomprehensible in its beauty and originality! So glad it wasn't damaged or demolished in World War II like that other fortification on the hill in Italy, Monte Cassino, where it had remained unharmed since I think the 1300's!

  6. The story has been passed down in my family that we had ties to one of the three families. I have documents from the 18th century indicating this, but cant seem to authenticate it beyond that. Surname was Ulrich at that time which obviously is not one of the originals…..would be cool though to trace it that far back, After my family immigrated to America around 1900, the earlier records were scarce.

  7. I don't see how 3 people can dislike this. You were very informative and thank you.

  8. Thank you for your lovely informative videos! They bring back memories of my trips in Europe 🙂

  9. The Moselle river is on my itinerary but I am trying to find a river cruise company that just does the Moselle and that allows you to visit as many places as possible along the Moselle. I have been along the Rhine so I don't want to repeat that part. 

  10. Pity I haven't seen this castle, but I have seen another similar one on the Rhine.

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