Watertravel & Waterside Destinations
Burg Gutenfels is closed to the public except for those who book a stay in its hotel.
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Burg Gutenfels is closed to the public, except for those who book a stay in its hotel.

Gutenfels and Pfalzgrafenstein

These two neighboring castles are situated respectively just above and just offshore from the town of Kaub.

Construction of the castle which came to be named Gutenfels, or “solid rock,” was begun in 1220. By 1770, it came to be owned by the Pfalzgrafen, or Counts Palatine (a name which shares the same root as “palace” and also with the modern German state of Rhineland Palatinate, AKA Rheinland Pfalz). The counts had the castle enlarged in the 14th century. The name Gutenfels was given to it in the early 16th century. It was further renovated and fortified it, but in spite of the fortifications, Gutenfels was conquered multiple times by Spanish, French, Scandinavian, Hessian and other attackers.

In 1326/7, Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian constructed the castle Pfalzgrafenstein. Its purpose, like so many others on the Rhine, was to exact tolls from passing ships. The method was a chain across the river which would be lowered once the toll was paid. The fortified town of Kaub and the Gutenfels castle on the hill above it worked together with the Pfalzgrafenstein in this toll-collection procedure. During the war against Napoleon in 1814, the Prussians used the castle as a place to cross the river. Victor Hugo referred to Pfalzgrafenstein as “a ship of stone.” Indeed, its five-sided base structure points upstream, parting the onrushing water like the prow of a ship.

In the current period, Burg Pfalzgrafenstein is a museum, reachable by ferry from Kaub. Burg Gutenfels is closed to the public except for those who book a stay in its hotel.

Pfalzgrafenstein is an exceptionally well-preserved castle and houses a museum. It is reachable by ferry from Kaub.

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Copyright Don Douglas