Also known as Burg Eltz, Eltz Castle is situated on the Elzbach River in southern Germany and is still occupied by descendants of the family that built it 850 years ago.
Germany's Eltz Castle stands as one of the most unique and awe-inspiring structures of its kind in the entire world. Called Burg Eltz in German, the castle is surrounded on three sides by a stream, while forests containing rare flora and fauna stretch for miles around in every direction.
Incredibly, it is one of only three castles on the left bank of the Rhine River in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate that has never been destroyed by the chaos and destruction of war.
And what's more, a line of the same family that built the medieval burg in the 12th century still owns it to this day. To date, 34 generations of the Eltz family have lived there since moving in permanently in 1157.
A Medieval Stronghold Surrounded By Forests And Lore
Perched on a huge rock formation that itself sits inside a sweeping valley, Eltz Castle looks over the Elzbach River. There are no roads or modern buildings nearby, so it truly echoes the aesthetic of the middle ages. Eight towers stretch into the horizon and make for a truly breathtaking sight.
This fantastical castle garnered a cult following thanks to Instagram, as it isn't often promoted as a tourist attraction. The castle's exterior, location, and scenic hiking trails are photographed often — but photos of the interiors are not allowed. (So pictures of the inside of Eltz Castle that you see above have been taken by the rare rule-breakers.)
The family that owns Eltz Castle has done so through an unbelievable 34 generations. However, that doesn't mean there hasn't been any family drama.
In 1269, three brothers had a feud, and the estate was divided into three succession lines. Remarkably, that actually settled the feud. They simply divided up the fortress and occupied their own portions of the castle. They even wrote their own constitution.
Burg Eltz was not actually designed to be a fortress, even though it uses the German descriptor of "burg" instead of "schloss" for "the castle." It was meant as a residence. And a blueprint of this fairy-tale house was used as inspiration by Disney when designing Cinderella's castle for the animated film.
Inside Burg Eltz Castle And Its Ancient Rooms
Because only one branch of the Eltz family lives at the castle today, 80 of the 120 rooms inside Eltz Castle have been turned into a museum, including a treasury and armory that houses over 500 weapons, pieces of art, and other artifacts from the last 850 years.
And the inner courtyard showcases the different architectural styles that builders used as the castle grew over the years.
The most important room was likely the Knight's Hall, where festivals and meetings took place. However, a tourist hot spot is the Rodendorf Kitchen, which has remained all but untouched since the 15th century. It's as close to an authentic medieval kitchen as you're going to see.
There are the upper and lower Rübenach Halls, named after a minor branch of the family, that feature amazing stained-glass windows and murals on the walls. The lower hall even has the iconic Renaissance painting Madonna With Child and Grapes.
In the Angel Room, hunting trophies and weapons adorn the walls. The Wambolt Room houses a clothes press and spinning wheel. The Countess' Room features what is probably the oldest known painted Renaissance bed still in existence.
And in what's referred to as Banner Hall, the opulent gothic vault ceiling circa 1480 gives a nod to the fact this room was likely once a chapel. Since then, its main use was that of a dining or living room.
Other rooms include the dressing chamber, Elector's Room, and a study lovingly decorated in 1881 for the wife of Count Karl Graf zu Eltz.
If you want to feel like you're stepping right into a movie that's set in the Middle Ages, put the amazing Eltz Castle on your must-see list and take a look through the gallery above to see the stunning Burg Eltz in all its Medieval glory.
After learning about Germany's iconic Eltz Castle, step inside Neuschwanstein Castle, the fairy-tale castle with a heartbreaking secret. Then explore these seven famously haunted castles.