Burg Eltz was first mentioned in 1157 AD, when Frederick I (Barbarossa) commissioned Count Rudolf von Eltz to protect the trade routes between the Maifeld plateau and the Moselle river.
In 1268, the Eltz family split into three branches, and the castle complex was split into three houses to accommodate each family. The Eltz-Rodendorf line was characterized by a silver lion on the coat of arms, the Eltz-Kempenich line was characterized by a golden lion on the coat of arms, and the Eltz-Rübenach line was characterized by buffalo horns on their coat of arms.
The most significant military offensive against Burg Eltz came in 1331 when Balduin of Luxembourg, the Archbishop of Trier, decided that he wanted the land that the Eltz Counts owned. So, he built a tower, called Trutz-Eltz (translates to mean “spite-Eltz) on a hill above Burg Eltz and proceeded to bombard the castle. The local allies of the Eltz Counts assisted them as much as they could, but after two years of the castle being seiged, the Eltz Counts sued for peace and swore fealty to the Archbishop (they had previously been vassals of the Emperor).
In the 18th Century, the Eltz-Rübenach line became extinct. In 1815, the Eltz-Rodendorf line sold their interest in the castle. The current owner is Count Karl von Eltz-Kempenich of the golden lion line. He is the 33rd generation of Eltz counts and is a doctor. He and his family still occasionally reside in the castle.
|Knight's armor from the armory/treasury|
The castle also houses an armory and treasury, with artifacts that the Eltz family has held for years. Tourists are allowed to go through this museum-style set of rooms and take pictures (no flash). There are some truly beautiful pieces that document Eltz family history. If you ever come to the western part Germany, Burg Eltz should definitely be on your list as a 'must see'.