Originally named Burg Braubach, the Marksburg rises high above the right bank of the Rhine River, crowning a cone-shaped hill overlooking the town of Braubach. The Marksburg is the only castle on the Middle Rhine to escape destruction or ruin. The castle had some additions in the 17th and 18th century, but maintains its medieval character.
The oldest stonework in the current castle dates from the 12th century. In 1135 a Count of Gruningen gave half of the town of Braubach and the castle to the Archbishop of Mainz who was a member of the House of Eppstein, one of the most powerful Rhenish families of the period. The castle was a key possession as it generated revenue in the collection of taxes for those traveling on the Rhine River.
In 1283, the daughter of the Count of Eppstein died and the Marksburg passed to her husband Eberhard von Katzenelnbogen and stayed in Katzenelnbogen possession until 1479. The Katzenelnbogen family already possessed a number of other Rhine castles, including Burg Katz. With the death of Count Phillip the Elder in 1479, the castle passed from the Katzenelnbogen's to the Landgraves of Hesse.
The Marksburg suffered its darkest hour when, in 1945, the castle came under direct shell-fire by American forces fighting against Nazi's hiding in the castle. The castle only suffered minor damage. The Marksburg is home to the Association for the Preservation of German Castles (Deutsche Burgenvereiningung).
The Marksburg has a well designed guided tour. After making your way through the Drawbridge Gate, the Fox Gate, the Notches Gate, and up the path; you will come to a covered entrance with roughed in steps carved right into the slate floor. These steps were carved with a rough surface intentionally to keep the knight's horses from slipping on rainy days.
Working around the Upper Bailey, you come to some steps that lead into the central courtyard where the Tower Keep rises 39 meters high. This is the heart of the castle. Giant wine barrels are located in the cellar below the Knight's Hall. From the Knight's Hall you can visit the chapel dedicated to Saint Mark, for which the castle gets its name.
There is also a castle dungeon which has lots of medieval torture devices on display and an armory displaying weapons and armor from different periods. The Romanesque Residential Apartments include furniture to show what the simple yet comfortable living conditions were like.
The Marksburg has a tavern and gift shop where they sell lots of items including a paper scale model of the castle that you cut out and glue together to make your own Marksburg. This is one of the first castles I ever visited and remains my favorite in Germany. If you want to visit more than one castle the same day, Burg Lahneck is just a few miles down the B42 towards Koblenz.