Ruins of Oberreifenberg Castle

The ruins of Reifenberg Castle in Oberreifenberg constitute the highest medieval castle in the Taunus Mountains and still offer an imposing sight. The ancestral seat of a warlike dynasty experienced some destruction, but remained a “solid mountain house” until its demolition at the end of the 17th century.

At a glance

61389 Oberreifenberg

Outdoor area freely accessible

A map of Hessen HESSEN


The Reifenberg is a dominant local fortress. The best way to capture the imposing ruins of the castle on top of a rocky spur is to look down on the landmark from the centre of Oberreifenberg.

25,000 Square Metres

This popular excursion destination in the Hochtaunus district is more than 600 metres above sea level, making it the highest medieval fortress in the Taunus Mountains. In its heyday, it is said to have extended over a walled area of 25,000 m2 and towered over what used to be a woodless area.

Ancestral Seat of the “Riffinberg” Family

The beginning of the construction of the ancestral seat of the Reiffenberg family (von “Riffinberg”), which was later divided into the Westerwald and Wetterau lines and was considered wild, feud-loving and indomitable, remains obscure. It was indirectly mentioned in 1234, but did not enter history in a document until 1331.

It was destroyed several times, but the “Ganerbenburg” (joint inheritance and shared residence of several families) was rebuilt again and again.

Ruins of Oberreifenberg Castle, shield wall, residential tower

View of the castle ruins with shield wall, residential tower and keep behind.

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2016

Ruins of Oberreifenberg Castle, residential tower

Due to missing components, an opening runs the length of the preserved residential tower.

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2016

Ruins of Oberreifenberg Castle, the interior of the residential tower

View into the interior of the residential tower.

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2016

Among the pictorial sources is an anonymous drawing from the end of the 16th century, which clearly depicts in curious perspective the lost buildings and some that have been preserved as ruins to the present day. In 1689, during the Nine Years’ War, when both lines had died out with the last knight, Baron Philipp Ludwig von Reif(f)enberg (1615-1686), it was finally razed.

A “Solid Mountain House”

A few decades earlier, Matthäus Merian and Martin Zeiller had presented it as a “solid mountain house” in the Topographia Hassiae. It originally consisted of a three-part, strongly secured inner bailey and an outer bailey, the ring wall of which enclosed the northern bailey.

Ruins of Oberreifenberg Castle, keep

The keep lost its superstructure and still measures 23 metres in height today.

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2016

Ruins of Oberreifenberg Castle, powder magazine

The so-called powder magazine is the remnant of one of the castle’s eight bastions.

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2016

Ruins of Oberreifenberg Castle, circular route

A circular path leads through the grounds.

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2016

Still visible today are parts of the fortifications and the ruins of military, civic and sacral buildings from different phases of development. In addition to the keep – lookout and last refuge for castle inhabitants – these include a mighty, four-metre-thick shield wall with round towers, a church cellar and a bizarre, very slender residential tower.

A Residential Tower of Six Storeys

Its southern narrow side is torn open so that a long slit runs through from the bottom to the top. On a slightly warped ground plan, which had to adapt to the rock, it was once built over six storeys. The uppermost is now a platform offering a magnificent view over the upper Weil valley to the Großer Feldberg.