After reluctantly turning in the car and checking out of my hotel I had a few hours to kill. Perfect.
Even before reaching the town of Nurburg I spotted a castle standing taller than any structure placed dominantly on the top of a small mountain, and I made a mental note to check it out before I left.
Once again I bundled up and started walking. As I walked through the small village I spotted a few cars I had seen playing on the track earlier that day.
As I walked I felt a presence following me. I turned but did not see anyone. The streets were eerily quiet. I started to climb the steep road towards the castle where I spotted a classic 911 Targa. Just below it was the presence that stalked me throughout the village. A cat. It stood with the meanest look as if it would eat me alive if given the chance.
As I walked it continued towards me slowly never taking its eyes off me.
I gave the cat a wide birth and continued past the red Porsche that I recognized from the track earlier in the day.
I came to the base of the castle where a sign was posted.
I continued up the steep stairs past an iron gate. Not a sound could be heard. Even the track was quiet. Complete silence except for blowing wind.
I came to the gate of the castle walls and was surprised by the sight. It was open. One side of the gate was ajar daring me to enter. Why not?
The dirty footprints in the snow encouraged me that I was not alone in my exploration, my first clue should have been the 3 euro guided tour sign and the padlocked and closed tour center.
Most of the rooms and entrances where gated and locked so I continued wandering around listening carefully for ghosts or a dragon.
The view was magnificent. The sun was coming down and the sky was still overcast but beautiful none the less. I could only imagine the scenery in spring blossom or fall colors.
There was a large tower in the center that looked either like an observation/ signaling tower of some sort or maybe a prison.
I walked around it and found an opening. I peered in but it was so dark I could not see a think. Just thick inky blackness.
Worried that I might fall into a ravine or be eaten by something inside the dark I took a step in and listend. I waited for my eyes to adjust to the dark but they never did. There was not a light in sight.
So I walked forward with my hand out and broke into a room that had a small light up near the top.
The light silouetted and spiraling staircase. I used my flash to illuminate the room.
Small windows arrayed the sides of the tower letting in light and wind. The staircase was a bit akward but the addition of a railing made it much safer.
At the top of the staircase the height seemed much greater.
There was a wooden platform that had obviously been replaced but yet I didn’t trust it. All I could think of was Indiana Jones crossing one of those wooden bridges and the wood snapping beneath his feet. So I held on to the railing and tested each plank before putting my weight on it.
This led me into another room with yet another staircase.
The stairway was so narrow I had to walk sideways. There was no light so I had to use my flash again to light my way which greatly affected my already drained battery.
In fact it killed it. There were two more levels to the tower and at the top you could see what looked to be miles away another tower on a hill. Apparently they used them to signal each other. There was a sight seeing machine at the top as well but it was too dark to be useful at that point. The sensation of being so high made my legs turn to jelly.
I found that the castle dates back to 1166 and used as a signal station in Roman times to protect the important Roman road that ran through the Eifel.
Taken from Wiki:
The actual instigator of the Nürburg was Count Ulrich, who, is named in a document from 1169, although his father, Dietrich I of Are had already started the construction of a refuge castle on the mountain. Ulrich’s descendants called themselves the lords of Nürburg and Are and were vassals (Lehnsmänner) of the bishops of Cologne and the Hohenstaufen emperor.
In 1290, ownership the castle was transferred to the Electorate of Cologne, because there were no more descendants of the lords of Nürburg. The archbishopric appointed a bailiff (Amtmann), who from then on was to represent their interests.
The construction of the castle was carried out in three stages. After the construction of the rectangular inner ward or kernburg, outer curtain walls were built between 1340 and 1369 under the bailiff, Johann von Schleiden, as a second defensive ring. In the 15th century a third curtain wall was erected to protect the hitherto freely-accessible castellan’s buildings that have not survived.
As early as the 16th century the castle fell into a very poor condition, a situation which the officiating bailiffs complained about. As a result restoration work was carried out several times.
In 1633, during the Thirty Years’ War, the Nürburg was captured by the Swedes under General Baudissin, who plundered and damaged it. In 1674, imperial troops occupied the castle.
In 1689, French soldiers finally destroyed the place. The surviving keep, or bergfried, was initially used as a prison, but was no longer fit for that purpose after 1752. The castle was abandoned and used as a stone quarry.
In 1818 Prussia had the bergfried restored because, with its height of 678 m above sea level, it would be able to act as a trigonometric point. In the course of this work the outer ward was demolished. Today only the remnants of the curtain wall testify to its existence.
In 1949, ownership of the ruins was transferred to Rhineland-Palatinate’s State Department for Conservation, who entrusted it to the Management of State Castles of Rhineland-Palatinate (Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser Rheinland-Pfalz, today the Burgen, Schlösser Altertümer Rheinland-Pfalz). The latter had work carried out several times (last in 1988/89) in order to expose elements of the building that had been filled in, as well as to carry out safety and restoration work.
I wish I had more time to explore Germany and The Nurburgring. I also wish I had better weather. But overall this was an expirience of a lifetime and would encourage anyone who has the means to go. Don’t put it off any longer because tomorrow may never come…