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Mespelbrunn Castle - Germany

Updated on October 4, 2011
Wasserschloss Mespelbrunn / Mespelbrunn Castle and moat.
Wasserschloss Mespelbrunn / Mespelbrunn Castle and moat. | Source

Germany is the land of fairytales and castles and I was fortunate enough to live a fairytale year in Wurzburg, Germany in the 1980's. I was a teacher for the Department of Defense Dependents' Schools and I taught in Wurzburg, Germany, teaching the children of servicemen stationed there. Naturally, I traveled all over Germany during my stay there and Germany is truly the "land of castles." There are so many, but the one I loved the most and will always remember was the quaint, romantic Mespelbrunn Castle.

Nestled deep in the Spessart forest, between Frankfurt and Wurzburg, in the Aschaffensburg district of northern Bavaria, is a beautiful, original castle with a moat, and members of the original family are still living in the castle today. During the months of April through October, the Ingelheim - Echter family open up the castle for tourists. They do charge admission - a few euros - and the admission money goes toward paying the property taxes. You can imagine what property taxes would be if you owned a castle in Germany!

What has always drawn me to this castle is its beauty, quaintness, and charm. It is not huge, but just large enough to count as a fortified castle. The round tower was built in the 1300's as a watchout tower for roaming bandits in the Spessart forest. In medieval times the Spessart forest was thick, dark and dangerous. Bandits hid in the trees and bushes to attack and relieve traveler's of their money or to kidnap fair German maidens and hold them for ransom money. The Grimm Brothers didn't have to go far into their imaginations to create German fairytales - it literally was all right there in the Spessart forest, and complete with a castle and moat.

At first, a house was built around the round tower during the late 1300's and early 1400's. Then in 1427, Hamann Echter, son of the first owner, began to rebuild his father's house by building fortified walls and adding a moat. He turned the house into a castle with moat and a beautiful one at that. What is amazing and why I like this castle so much is because it is all the original construction from the 1300's and 1400's and has never been disturbed by warfare because of its remote location.

Portal of Mespelbrunn Castle in the inner courtyard.
Portal of Mespelbrunn Castle in the inner courtyard. | Source

Peter Echter and his wife, Lady Adelsheim

Carved above the portal in the inner courtyard of the castle, are the likenesses of Peter Echter and his wife, Lady Adelsheim, completed in 1564, and also includes their coat of arms. This portal is the main entrance to the castle and when you step inside the portal there is a winding staircase that takes you up to the living quarters of the castle. Of the Echter family, Peter and his wife were the most well - known of the family, leaving quite a history at the castle and becoming the leading citizens of the town of Mespelbrunn not far outside the castle grounds. Their son, Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn (1545-1617) was the most famous and powerful of all the Echter family. He became Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg, Germany and ruled there in the Residenz and was also known as the Duke of Franconia. While bishop of Wurzburg, he founded the Juliusspital, the first hospital in Wurzburg and he refounded the University of Wurzburg in l583, both of which are still standing and working in that city. But, as a child, Julius grew up and played in this castle.

Downstairs, off the inner courthard, is the Knights Hall, filled today with various suits of armor, swords, knives, and other various weapons used during the middle ages. There is one long table with nearly sixteen chairs and places for the knights to the Echter family who protected them from the bandits and soldiers that roamed the dark forest. It is said that the relatives of the Echter family will live in the castle until the day comes that the wooden pillars that hold up the ceiling in the knight's hall come down. That has not happened since the 1300's.

Today, generations later, the Counts of Ingelheim-Echter own Mespelbrunn Castle and live in the castle today. It is so cute to see a swing set and sliding board in the back yard of the castle for the Ingelheim-Echter grandchildren to use when they visit. Today, the grounds are manicured and kept beautiful for the many tourists that come by to visit the castle. Tours of the castle can be taken to see the public rooms and tours are given in both English and German. The private living rooms of the Ingelheim-Echter family are not shown. It is wonderful of them to share the beauty and the history of their ancestral home.

There is an inn on the property before reaching the castle that visitors can stay in. There are many trails for walking in the Spessart forest. The bandits and soldiers no long haunt the trails and it is a beautiful natural forest surrounding to the castle today. This is one castle that must be seen when traveling in Germany. It is a peaceful, tranquil, day or afternoon spent at Mespelbrunn Castle.

It is very easy to get to the Mespelbrunn Castle. Just take the A3 autobahn north from Wurzburg or south from Frankfurt, and get off at the Mespelbrunn exit. Turn right off the exit and drive through the main street of Mespelbrunn and you will see the entrance to the castle grounds on the left as soon as you leave town. Everything is clearly marked by signs once you get off the autobahn.


Inner courtyard of Mespelbrunn Castle.
Inner courtyard of Mespelbrunn Castle. | Source

Comments

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  • suzettenaples profile image
    Author

    Suzette Walker 6 years ago from Taos, NM

    Yes, this castle is a nice place to visit, because it is sort of off the beaten path. Add it to your list. You will get there someday on your published book tour. Of course, if you ever need a manager, I'll apply for the job.

    Thanks so much for your comments and support. I always value your imput!

  • Hyphenbird profile image

    Brenda Barnes 6 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

    How gorgeous! I suppose this will be another on my extremely long list of places to visit. Your attention to detail and presentation is perfect. I enjoyed this Hub very much.

  • suzettenaples profile image
    Author

    Suzette Walker 6 years ago from Taos, NM

    PeggyW: Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Yes, I think Germany is one of Europe's most beautiful countries. When you travel there again, stop to see Mespelbrunn Castle. It is one of Germany's beautiful surprises.

    Paradise7: Thank you for your comments. Yes, I love castles, also, and this is my favorite because the same family has lived here for generations and generations. It is like a dream come true. My imagination runs wild when I visit here. I never miss it when I'm in Germany.

  • Paradise7 profile image

    Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

    I loved this hub. I've always been fascinated by castles; I wish I could live in one! Those people are sooooo lucky! I found this hub to be very informative and well-written; you definitely have a gift.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 6 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Thanks for this hub about Mespelbrunn Castle in Germany. Although I did not visit here, I loved what I got to see of that country when visiting a friend who lives there many years ago. It truly is a beautiful country from what I got to see.

  • suzettenaples profile image
    Author

    Suzette Walker 6 years ago from Taos, NM

    Kerlynb: Thanks so much for your comments. I really appreciate your input to my hubs. I have so enjoyed your hubs of the different places in the Philippines. They have really given me the itch to see your lovely country.

    Tracy: Thank you and I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub. This is one castle not all Americans know is there, and I just love it!

  • Tracy Lynn Conway profile image

    Tracy Lynn Conway 6 years ago from Virginia, USA

    This hub is right up my alley. I am fascinated by castles, history and fairy tales. You have done a great job of describing this endearing castle...what a treat. Voted up and beautiful.

  • kerlynb profile image

    kerlynb 6 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

    Just beautiful! Congratulations for another great hub. One friend of mine who is a total footloose said Germany is one of his two fave countries in Europe, the other one being Hungary. He was just at awe with the many magnificent castles in Germany.

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