Castle Rheinstein, which is also known as Voitsberg, Fautsburg or Vaitzburg, is part of the Unesco World Heritage Middle Rhine. The name Rheinstein goes back to the 19th century when the castle was rebuilt. There is a famous story involving the castle and two lovers, which can be accessed here.
Castle Rheinstein was originally erected in the 14th century, although there are some sources that claim it is even older; however, modern investigation suggests building commencing around 1316/17. It is likely the castle was built by the Archbichop of Mainz, Peter von Aspelt, to enforce the ban on rebuilding Castle Reichenstein, which can be seen from Rheinstein. Strategically, the castle lost its importance already in around 1344 when Castle Reichenstein was rebuilt.
Without any major role to play, Rheinstein escaped much of the warfare of the following centuries but gradually the fortunes of the inhabitants turned and towards the end of the 16th century, it was no longer profitable to run the castle. Due to its unmaintained state, the French army did not destroy it during the Nine Year’s War as happened to many other castles in the region.
In 1816, Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel became interested in the now ruined structure and drew up plans for a romanticised restoration. This led to Prince Friedrich of Prussia buying Rheinstein in 1823. Thus, Rheinstein became the first of many Rhine castles that were restored to serve a romantic purpose, rather than a military one. It was in 1829, finishing the restoration works, that the castle was renamed Rheinstein.
In 1863, Prince George of Prussia inherited the castle and Friedrich of Prussia (1863), his wife Princess Louise (1882) and her son Prince George (1902) were all buried here. In 1973, Castle Rheinstein was offered for sale. However, the owner, Barbara Irene princess of Prussia, was duped by an English buyer who removed and sold those parts from the castle that were easily transportable. Other attempts to sell the castle had similar issues and the poor condition of the building material created further problems. Even the state of Rhineland-Palatinate refused to buy Castle Rheinstein, despite recommendations of the national heritage organisation. Finally, in 1975, opera singer Hermann Hechler bought Castle Rheinstein and renovated it with the help of several grants and private donations.
Today, Castle Rheinstein is fully restored and still in private ownership, however, it can be visited during normal opening hours and makes a popular attraction.
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