Castle Rodenstein is situated in the Odenwald region of Hesse on a hill at around 322m hight. As the name suggested, parts of the forest had to be cleared to build the stronghold (‘roden’ – to clear woodland). It was built around 1240 by the lards of Crumback and Rodenstein as protection against Reichenberg, supported by the powerful earls of Katzenelnbogen, who purchased the castle first in part (1346) and finally completely (1436).
The family Katzenelnbogen died out in 1479 and the castle became part of the holdings of Heinrich III, count of Hesse. Despite its use as defensive structure, Rodenstein was not destroyed through warfare. Sketches by Valentin Wagner show palace like structures in 1634. However, after Adam von Rodenstein and his whole family died in 1635 when the plague arrived in the area, the castle was used as a source of building material for local buildings. The last member of the Rodenstein family, Georg Friedrich, entered into legal dispute over the ownership with his guardian, which eventually reached emperor Leopold and made any restorative work impossible. Therefore, until the 19th century, the castle was used as a quarry. The ruin is since several generations part of the holdings of the family Gemmingen-Hornberg. Like many other comparable ruins, restorative work was done during the 20th century to secure the buildings and prevent further destruction. Today, the castle is a popular local attraction, including a restaurant.
The area is rich in stories and legends and one of the most famous myths is told about a knight called Fritz, who came back from the grave to fulfil his oath to the empire. The read the full story, click here.
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