Nestled above Landstuhl, Germany, are castle ruins that have a history dating back nearly a millennium. Today, only a few pieces of the once immense Castle remain. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Castle Nanstein.
(Nearly) Ancient History
Castle Nanstein, or Burg Nanstein in German, was first mentioned in 1253. The castle dates back to the 12th century AD. During the 13th to 15th centuries, it was an Imperial castle. The castle’s primary purpose was to protect the Palatinate, a region of Germany.
Castle Nanstein is the former home of Franz von Sickingen. von Sickingen was a German knight and leading force of the Reformation. After the Castle was passed down to him by his father, von Sickingen refortified the castle to protect himself from potential enemies (i.e., catapults, knights with swords, cannonballs), around 1518 AD.
In 1523, von Sickingen led the Knight’s Revolt, a revolution created by the Protestant Reformation against the Roman Catholic Church. Part of the Revolt led fighting to Nanstein, creating a bloody battle at the site. It was during this battle that von Sickingen was shot and later died on May 7, 1523.
After the battle that killed von Sickingen, the castle needed to be repaired. It would take nearly twenty years for the reconstruction to begin. After 1543, von Sickingen’s sons began rebuilding the Castle in a Renaissance style. Unfortunately, the Castle was not safe from further destruction. Between 1668 and 1869, parts of the Castle were destroyed by the Germans and later the French. Today, only one part of the Castle remains.
More Recent History & Visiting the Castle
Since 1869, the Castle ruins have been restored and preserved for visitors from near and far to experience the once-great Burg Nanstein.
In early September 2018, I visited the Castle. It was just a short drive. Beware, the road leading to the Castle is narrow and windy. When you arrive at the Castle, there is a restaurant where you can enjoy a beer or traditional German meal overlooking Landstuhl.
The restaurant only accepted cash, like most places in Germany, and we only had enough cash for the Castle tour. Next time we visit we will be sure to bring enough.
The tour of the Castle was cost-effective, being around 4-5€ per person. If you are U.S. military personnel, you are eligible for a discounted ticket price. There are audio and self-guided tour options. I wish I had done an audio tour because there are not many signs throughout the Castle to provide information about what you are looking at. Inside one part, however, there is a video detailing the history of the Castle, a bust of von Sickingen, and more information about the man who gave his life protecting his Castle.
The grounds offer insights into how life in the Middle Ages was. Ruins from bedrooms, kitchens, even a stage, are visible. If you’re lucky, you might spot some stones with writing dating back to 1347 or earlier!
I recommend visiting Castle Nanstein if you are in the area. Germany, like much of Europe, is filled with castle ruins. Thankfully, these are located right in my backyard! The grounds are more extensive than you might think, and there are plenty of great spots for photographs. If you are not interested in the history of the location, it is also a local hiking, biking, and eating destination. There is something for everyone at Burg Nanstein.
Until my next adventure,
*Information gathered from Wikipedia and Castle Nanstein’s informational brochure.