The Eltz family started the construction of the Platteltz on an old manor hall site, which remains the oldest part of the castle. The fortress was an essential part of the Holy Roman Empire, under Frederick Barbarossa, by 1157.
Burg Eltz was built strategically along the lower Eltz River, serving as a Mosel River tributary. This was a popular route linking the Mosel with the Eifel River. The castle was built atop a 70-meter-high rock giving it a commanding view of the Elzbach Valley and River Eltz, which flowed around the base of the castle on three sides.
In 1268, the Eltz family split into three separate branches. Each component built its own houses and towers within the castle over the next 400 years. Thus, Burg Eltz became a Ganerbenburg in which several families shared common areas of the castle, including the courtyard, well, and chapel, while maintaining their private living quarters. Today, the Lion Or branch of the Eltz family remains the sole owner of the castle. The castle has eight towers with living quarters grouped around an inner courtyard.
Although Burg Eltz has existed for nearly 900 years, it has seen little action in military conflict. The only significant event occurred between 1331-1336 when Elector Balduin of Trier, an uncle to Charles IV, tried to enforce peace in his electorate as free knights of the Holy Roman Empire believed he was infringing upon their rights to private warfare. The knights from various castles, including Johann of Burg Eltz, allied against Balduin. Later that year, Balduin erected a siege castle outside Burg Eltz and bombarded the castle with heavy stone balls. He also severed all supply lines from the castle, which forced the knights to concede. In 1354, Emperor Charles IV gave Burg Eltz as a fief to Elector Balduin. Thus, the free knights of Burg Eltz became the vassals of the Elector and took Burg Eltz from him as feudal tenure.
Philipp zu Eltz began the construction of the 10-story Greater Rodendorf House in 1470, the oldest part being the flag hall with its gothic vaulted ceiling. Construction was completed in 1520. In 1472, the House of Rübenach completed the castle wing that contains the Rübenach Lower Hall, living room, and bedchamber in Late Gothic architecture.
Burg Eltz is one of the few Rhenish castles never to be destroyed. As a result of skillful diplomacy, the castle avoided conflict during the Thirty Years' War when the French destroyed most of the Rhine castles.
Visiting Burg Eltz is like stepping into an enchanting fairy tale. You can hear the sounds of birds singing as you walk along the road through the forest. Suddenly, the forest opens up to reveal a cliff overlooking Burg Eltz. With Tudor-style buildings and cone-shaped roofs, Burg Eltz is one of the most beautiful castles in Germany.
The only way to view the castle's interior is to purchase tickets in the gift shop for a guided tour. The tour begins in the castle courtyard and continues into the armory, which contains suits or armor, weapons, lances used in jousting tournaments, and other exquisite medieval items. The tour includes an opportunity to visit the Knights Hall. This room contains exceptional items, including armor dating back to the 16th century and panel paintings depicting scenes from the Old Testament. In addition, the Knights Hall is adorned with the Eltz family Coat of Arms.
After taking the castle tour, be sure to visit the castle Treasure Chamber. Here you can see an extensive collection of fine art and treasures, which the Eltz family collected for nearly 900 years. The collection includes gold and silversmith works, coins, medals, weapons, armor, sacred objects, jewelry, and other items of value and historical significance. It is a great way to complete your castle excursion.
Burg Eltz contains a gift shop with a wide selection of very nice items. In addition to a gift shop, Burg Eltz includes two lovely restaurants. Lastly, should you have trouble climbing the hillside or desire a rest, a shuttle bus costing a Euro or so is available for traveling between the front of the castle to the car park.