These two neighboring
castles are situated respectively just above and just offshore
from the town of Kaub.
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
Bavarian constructed the castle Pfalzgrafenstein. Its purpose, like so
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.
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.