One of the lace of fantastical castles perched along waterways near the Rhine, Burg Eltz is Gothic in style, and its many towers and turrets have dominated its lush, green valley since medieval times. Like many of the German Rhineland castles, this could easily have been the model for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, appearing to morph out of its rocky crag and almost completely surrounded by the sinuous curves of the River Eltz.
With spots as high as eight stories up, it has its origins in the 13th century, when it was built high above the valley floor for defense purposes. Building continued for centuries, with further expansions being added hundreds of years later.
Amazingly, Burg Eltz has been owned by three branches of the same aristocratic family since the 13th century. It's built around a central courtyard and was one of the few castles that escaped the last world war unscathed. Guided tours incorporate the armory, medieval frescoes, masterpieces by Cranach and elaborate wooden carvings of the Knight’s Hall, where generations of the three families have held their celebrations. In fact, so picture-perfect is Burg Eltz that it is featured on the DM500 note of the now-defunct German currency.
Burg Eltz sits near Wierschem and is open daily from April to September from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission costs €9 for adults, €6.50 for students and €6 for school children. Forty-five-minute guided tours start every 15 minutes. A free shuttle bus runs up to the castle from the car park, or alternatively, there’s a steep, 15-minute walk.