Katz Castle (German: Burg Katz) is a castle above the German town of St. Goarshausen in Rhineland-Palatinate. This magnificent castle stands on a ledge looking downstream from the riverside at St. Goar. It was first built around 1371 by Count William II of Katzenelnbogen. The castle was bombarded in 1806 by Napoleon and rebuilt in the late 19th century, in 1896–98. It is now privately owned, and not open for visitors.
Though commonly known as Katz, this is actually a contraction of Neukatzenelnbogen after the original castle of Katzenelnbogen (Burg Katzenelnbogen). The name roughly translates into English as Cat’s Elbow Castle, and so is popularly linked with that of the nearby Maus Castle.
Maus Castle (German: Burg Maus, meaning Mouse Castle) is a castle above the village of Wellmich (part of Sankt Goarshausen) in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It lies on the east side of the Rhine, north of Katz Castle (Cat Castle) in Sankt Goarshausen and opposite Rheinfels Castle at Sankt Goar across the river.
Construction of the castle was begun in 1356 by Archbishop-Elector of Trier Bohemond II and was continued for the next 30 years by successive Electors of Trier. The construction of Burg Maus was to enforce Trier‘s recently acquired Rhine River toll rights and to secure Trier’s borders against the Counts of Katzenelnbogen (who had built Burg Katz and Burg Rheinfels). In the latter half of the 14th century Burg Maus was one of the residences of the Elector of Trier.
Unlike its two neighbouring castles, Burg Maus was never destroyed, though it fell into disrepair in the 16th and 17th centuries. Restoration of the castle was undertaken between 1900 and 1906 under the architect Wilhelm Gärtner with attention to historical detail.
The castle suffered further damage from shelling during World War II which has since been repaired. Today Burg Maus hosts an aviary that is home to falcons, owls and eagles, and flight demonstrations are staged for visitors from late March to early October.
Local folklore attributes the name to the Counts of Katzenelnbogen’s mocking of the Electors of Trier during the 30 years of construction, who reportedly said that the castle was the “mouse” that would be eaten by the “cat” of Burg Katz. The originally intended name was Burg Peterseck (or St. Peterseck). A matched castle on the left bank (to control the bank north of Burg Rheinfels) that was to be named Burg Peterberg was never constructed. Other names by which Burg Maus is known are Thurnberg (or Thurmberg) and Deuernburg.
Rheinfels Castle (German: Burg Rheinfels) is a castle ruin located above the left (west) bank of the Rhine in Sankt Goar, Germany. It was started in 1245 by Count Diether V of Katzenelnbogen. After expansions, it was the largest fortress in the Middle Rhein Valley between Koblenz and Mainz. It was slighted by French Revolutionary Army troops in 1797. It is the largest castle overlooking the Rhine, and historically covered five times its current area.
While much of the castle is a ruin, some of the outer buildings are now a luxury hotel, “wellness” centre and restaurant. There is also a museum within some of the better preserved structures.
The main entrance to the castle complex is a tall square clock or gate tower (~1300 AD) opposite the hotel. A connecting path joins the clock tower to the remains of the living quarters of the landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt (the so-called Darmstadt Building). The Darmstadt building was designed in Tudor style with pointed gables. The connecting path was the site of the former moat of the main castle buildings; part of which is now the large cellar or basement. This large cellar was arched over in 1587-89 in two visible phases. It is the largest self-supporting vaulted cellar in Europe and has a length of 24 metres (79 ft), a width and height of approximately 16 metres (52 ft) and can accommodate up to 400 people. The walls are up to 4 metres (13 ft) thick. Previously a 200,000 litres (53,000 US gal) wine barrel was constructed for storage. The cellar was renovated in 1997 and restored to its original condition and now serves as a meeting place for concerts, theater performances, and other shows. Next to the Darmstadt building once stood a 54 metres (177 ft) tall tower. It had a diameter of 10.5 metres (34 ft) with walls 3.5 metres (11 ft) thick at the bottom. In the 14th century, a narrow round tower was added to the top, making it the highest butter-churn tower in Germany.
The castle museum is located in the former castle chapel which is the only finished room of the original castle. It is accessed through an internal gate and up the path. The museum contains a model reconstruction of the castle before its destruction giving one a sense of how big the castle used to be. The medieval castle courtyard is found beyond the castle museum building (slightly uphill). This was the centre of the medieval castle which contained a bakery, pharmacy, garden, brewery, well, and livestock — which would have allowed it to withstand an extended siege. During peacetime, 300-600 people lived in the castle complex. During a siege, that number could swell to 4,500. Remnants of the original 13th-century plaster which was painted white can still be found on some walls.