The ruins of Steckelberg Castle are situated close to Ramholz, in Hesse, central Germany. The name can be derived from Middle High German for ‘steep hill’, referring to the steep inclines that lead up to it. It was build to control the routes through this mountainous area and overlooked the wine route from Fulda to Franconia, an important trade route dating back to the Carolingian area. The castle was build in the 12th century by the lords of Steckelberg, although it was not their main seat until much later.
The castle was briefly occupied by a robber baron of unknown name around 1276. King Rudoph I ordered it destroyed and banned it from being rebuild without imperial permission. Officially, this destruction was to secure the peace of the area (Landfrieden), but it is likely that he used this opportunity to support his allies. The area stayed, however, in ownership of the Steckenberg family until the male line was extinguished in the 14th century. Thus the area fell to the female line and under control of Frowin von Hutten. His son fortified the hill in 1388, re-building the castle in its final position. To achieve this, the castle had to be moved a few hundred meters from the original site to circumvent the original imperial proclamation. To avoid problems with the law, he transferred to ownership to the Bishop of Würzburg. In 1458 the caste was besieged after a dispute between the Hutten-Steckelberg family and their league lords in Würzburg. After a short occupation it was returned in 1459, when the two sides were able to come to an agreement.
In 1488 the famous knight Ulrich von Hutten was born at Steckelberg Castle. He became one of the most important knights linked to the reformation, starting the Knight’s Revolt together with his compatriot Franz von Sickingen and is today still remembered and celebrated as a reformer and intellectual.
In 1525 rebel farmers tried to take the castle but failed. Although the family eventually moved into the parish of Ramholz, the castle continued to play a defensive role during the 30 Years’ War. Philipp Daniel von Hutten, the last aristocratic owner, died in 1687 and the castle was increasingly used as a quarry. Presumably, rendering it already uninhabitable during the 30 Years’ War.
In 1883 the ruins and von Hutten estates in town were bought by Baron Hugo von Stumm. The family seat in Ramholz was transformed into a pleasure palace known as Schloss Ramholz. In 2004 some of the eastern walls were renovated, but the ruins had to be closed in 2008 as part of the northern walls and collapsed. Today the castle is renovated and open to the public.
Thinking of visiting the area and Schloss Ramholz: click here