Standing above the town of Braubach, Germany on the banks of the Rhine, is Marksburg Castle, an imposing and historic fortification. The castle was erected to defend the surrounding countryside but also to control the trade that passed through the region on the Rhine river. Of the over three dozen castles along the river, Marksburg is the only one to have never been captured or even fallen into serious disrepair.
The history of Marksburg castle begins in the 12th century, when the start of the castle complex was constructed by the Lords of Eppstein. The castle protected the town of Braubach below, but it also served to reinforce the Eppsteins’ right to collect customs duties on goods and traffic traveling along the trade routes.
The Eppstein family was powerful with four members of the family being Archbishops and Electors of Mainz, another was Archbishop and Elector in Trier. Electors were senior nobles in the Holy Roman Empire with the right to elect the Emperor.
The Eppstein family continued to hold Marksburg castle until 1283, when it was purchased by Eberhard II, Count of Katzenelnbogen. It was the counts of Katzenelnbogen who built the gothic-style additions to Marksburg, which provides the profile seen today. When the last Katzenelnbogen died in 1479, the castle passed to the Landgraves of Hesse through the marriage of the Katzenelnbogen heiress Anna to Heinrich of Hesse.
At that time the castle was strengthened to defend against the new artillery and Marksburg was enlarged to make space for its gun batteries.
In 1806 with the fall of Holy Roman Empire, French Emperor Napoleon granted Marksburg castle to his ally the Duke of Nassau. The Duke used the castle as a war prison and a home for disabled soldiers. In 1900, the German Castles Association took ownership of Marksburg castle with a payment gesture of 1,000 gold marks.
The castle was damaged by American artillery in WWII but the damage was also repaired by the American Occupation Army.