Watertravel & Waterside Destinations
Burg Reichenstein was home to some of the Middle Rhine's most infamous robber barons.
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Burg Reichenstein was home to some of the Middle Rhine’s most infamous robber barons.

Reichenstein Castle

Costly tolls were exacted from ship traffic passing through the Rhine Valley, which is how even some of the more respectable castle owners got rich and came to be called “robber barons.”

That said, one can’t help but wonder about the errant knights of Burg Reichenstein. During the 13th century, the castle had been the fortress of Philip von Hohenfels, an outlaw knight who “robbed ladies, imprisoned the clergy, mistreated vassals and plundered merchants.” It appears they were a rough bunch even by the local standards of the time.

On the first of October in 1273, Rudolf I, founder of the Habsburg dynasty, was elected Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and King of Germany. Four years later, at nearby Burg Rheinstein, he tried Philip von Hohenfels and ordered his execution. The ownership of Burg Reichenstein then passed to Philip’s son, Dietrich, who was evidently every bit the outlaw that his father was.

Judging by the foundation stones, experts have estimated that the earliest construction on Burg Reichenstein began in the early 11th century, roughly 1,000 years ago. At that time the land in that region was the property of Kornelimuenster Abby, located a few miles southeast of Aachen. It had been a gift from King Louis I, also known as Ludwig der Fromme (the Pious), son of Charlemagne.

Today, Burg Reichenstein is open to the public as a hotel and restaurant.

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Copyright Don Douglas