The castle was probably built in the 13th century by the Counts of Katzenelnbogen. After its destruction in 1674, an impressive ruin remained. It offers a wide view of the Rhine plain and is home to a restaurant.
At a glance
The outdoor area is freely accessible Wednesday to Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm
Auerbach Castle is located above Bensheim-Auerbach on one of the westernmost foothills of the Odenwald. In the 13th century, the Counts of Katzenelnbogen controlled the Bergstrasse, a trade route already used in Roman times. Customs revenues on the Middle Rhine had made the family rich and powerful; they secured their rule with numerous castles between the Taunus and the Odenwald. These included Auerbach Castle, formerly also called Auerberg Castle, which they built in the 13th century and extensively renovated in the 14th century. The inner bailey is grouped around a triangular courtyard, which is typical of Katzenelnbogen castle construction. The 62-metre-deep well, which supplied the castle inhabitants with drinking water, is located in this courtyard. Around the inner bailey was the narrow zwinger, in front of which was a second outer bailey. The keep that once existed collapsed in 1356 when a strong earthquake shook the Upper Rhine valley.
Destruction by French Troops
The two high round towers have shaped the unmistakable silhouette of Auerbach Castle since then and still do today. Since 2007, the southern tower has again been accessible to visitors via a renovated staircase. The residential building was located between the towers, and on the south side there was another building with a large hall. A third tower protected the attack side as a bulwark. However, the medieval fortifications could not withstand wars in modern times: In the Dutch War, which France also waged on Hessian soil against the troops of the Holy Roman Empire after its attack on the United Provinces, General Turenne had the castle stormed and destroyed in 1674. Auerbach Castle remained as a ruin.
Castle Romanticism Ensures the Preservation of the Castle
The fact that the building did not completely crumble is due to the Romantic transfiguration of the Middle Ages and the age of chivalry at the beginning of the 19th century, as well as the fact that the Grand Ducal Hessian summer visitors from the nearby Fürstenlager discovered Auerbach Castle as an excursion destination. The ruins were secured and the north tower, which had collapsed in 1820, was rebuilt with slight modifications. The western residential building was given a battlement with crenellations above the first floor. In 1903, the hall was given a flight of steps and a Gothic-looking lancet window, and the gate and bridge on the south-west side were also renovated. The actual landmark of the castle complex is not architectural, however, but botanical: a centuries-old pine tree grows in the middle of the battlements, defying wind and weather on the barren ground.
In the vicinity
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