Breuberg Castle rises mightily above the valley of the Mümling in the Crystalline Odenwald. It has defied all the feuds and wars of its 800-year history. Today it is one of the best-preserved castles in southern Germany. A youth hostel brings young life to the old walls.
At a glance
The outdoor grounds are freely accessible.
Anyone who peacefully “conquers” Breuberg Castle today on a day trip or as a guest of the youth hostel has to overcome the same defences as a 17th-century attacker: up a long stairway, past the wall and embrasures, over the rampart and moat, through the front gate and over the bridge, through the lower castle gate and finally through the Romanesque portal into the inner bailey.
This path into the castle’s interior is at the same time a walk through the history of castle building between the 12th and 17th centuries. Since the castle in the Crystalline Odenwald above the valley of the Mümling was never destroyed and was inhabited almost continuously, it is authentically preserved today in all its historical layers.
The mighty keep made of ashlars and the Romanesque gate of the inner bailey still bear witness to the beginnings. Together with the ring wall, they form a typical castle of the Staufen period, i.e. the years between 1138 and 1250, when the noble Staufen family provided the Roman-German kings and emperors. When the family of the builders, the Lords of Breuberg, died out in 1323, four noble families inherited the castle and administered it as a manorial community - Breuberg thus became a so-called “Ganerbenburg” (“joint-inheritance castle”).
A Well, 85 Metres Deep
Ownership and the common life were regulated by contract. Each family had to maintain an area of the castle, and the maintenance of the fortifications and the 85-metre-deep well, today a highlight of every tour of the castle, was done jointly. One of the four families, the Counts of Wertheim, took full possession of the castle through acquisitions and, from the end of the 15th century, expanded it into a fortress with, among other things, four enormous towers, a gun platform, the “Schütt” and a moat; the new firearms that were emerging demanded appropriate defences.
Johann Casimir Building – a Renaissance gem
Under the subsequent owners, the Counts of Erbach and the Counts of Löwenstein-Wertheim, the main aspects of their building activities were domestic and representative, as well as defensive. The Johann Casimir Building was built entirely in the style of the Renaissance, which is characterised by the ideal of antiquity. The magnificent stucco ceiling of the Knights’ Hall is decorated with a sequence of coats of arms of the Löwenstein-Wertheim ancestors as well as with mythological figures of Greek antiquity and a frieze of Greek and Roman gods – complemented by hidden scenes of everyday needs.
In the 18th century, Breuberg lost importance as a seat of power, but remained in the possession of the two families, who sold it to the German Youth Hostel Association in 1919. In the meantime, the castle is owned by the State of Hesse. At the end of World War II, forced labourers were housed in the castle – Cyrillic graffiti in the battlements of the keep still reminds us of this time and spans the arc from Breuberg’s oldest history to the most recent.
Today, the castle tavern, a small museum and the youth hostel bring life to the old walls. And those who shy away from the steep climb to the castle can enjoy its panorama from afar – depending on the light conditions, the walls of red Main sandstone impress with a fascinating play of colours.
In the vicinity
Veste OtzbergMuseum on siteMeetings & celebrations possible
Einhard’s Basilica Michelstadt-SteinbachMuseum on siteGuided tours
Lichtenberg CastleMuseum on siteMeetings & celebrations possible
Erbach PalaceMuseum on siteEventsGuided toursMeetings & celebrations possible