On your radar: Mespelbrunn Castle

On your radar: Mespelbrunn Castle

by Jessica Zen 
Stripes Europe

Nestled in the forest of the Spessart Mountains and surrounded by a water-filled moat, Mespelbrunn Castle is truly a historical gem. Known as a water castle, it features a mashup of late medieval and early Renaissance architectural styles. This amazing piece of history is untouched by the ravages of war and still functions as a residence today in Germany. This little castle is the perfect spot for a day trip from Frankfurt, as it is located just outside the city. 

This lovely castle dates back to 1412 when it was just a modest house. Hamann Echter was the first owner and was given the title of Vizedom of Aschaffenburg from Prince Johann von Nassau, the Archbishop of Mainz. The original house has undergone many updates to become an impressive castle. In 1427, surrounding walls, towers and a defensive moat were added. Today the only thing remaining from the 15th century is the impressive round tower. Most of what you can see today was built in the 16th century, from 1551-1569. The architectural updates strongly reflect a traditional Renaissance manor house. 

Perhaps the most famous Echter family member to live in the castle was Julius Echter (1545-1617). He was the Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg and constructed multiple churches in the area in an effort to perform an ecclesiastical restoration of the Catholic Church. These new churches were Gothic style, featuring steep, black slate roofs. In just three years, around 100,000 people returned to the Catholic faith. The Echter family owned the castle until 1665, when the last male heir passed. Through marriage, the Counts of Ingelheim took ownership of the castle and eventually opened it to the public in 1930 for tours. 

When you visit the castle, you’ll see a square-shaped central building resting on the east side of the lake. The inner courtyard is surrounded by multiple-story wings and there are two towers. The southern wing of the castle is currently inhabited by the Counts of Ingelheim. However, you can still tour the north wing and other parts of the castle. Rooms open for touring feature the family’s furniture that has been collected over the years. You can visit the Knight’s Hall, chapel, banquet hall, which is full of weapons and the ancestor’s hall, featuring family portraits. There is also a particularly interesting Chinese room that features items from East Asia. 

If you’re hungry, the little cafe on site is a great place to grab a bite to eat. Here you can find schnitzel, sandwiches, salads, coffee, brats and more. Enjoys views of the castle while you fuel up and enjoy the beauty of the surrounding forest. 

Mespelbrunn Castle is a great day trip from Frankfurt, as it is only about an hour away via A3. Once you arrive, you must take a 40-minute tour to see the interior. All tours are in German, unless you request one in English prior to arrival. There is ample parking just outside the castle grounds. 

Add Mespelbrunn Castle to your growing list of travel destinations. After all, it’s not every day you get to see a castle that is surrounded by a moat, has a 15th-century tower that is standing and is still inhabited! Step back in time and appreciate the intricate architectural styles and the beautiful nature that surrounds the castle grounds. Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to build a “castle” and grounds of your own some day! 

Why go there

This romantic location, hidden in a forest of colors, is one of few castles that remains unscathed from various wars. Its survival is likely due to its moderately concealed location within the mountain forests. Though the castle is not particularly large, it offers a delightful insight into the past, especially since it has continuously been inhabited. 

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