Burg Nanstein, Castle Ruins
Updated: May 22, 2020
My first visit to this magnificent castle ruin was in the winter of 2017. Now that doesn't seem far at all until you consider the castle was built around 1162.
I don't think of myself as a history buff but a great day for me would include visiting a museum or taking a tour of a castle. I secretly allow my imagination to wonder the halls of the castle and ponder on to the life of people who lived and died within its walls. It was an honor to stand inside such ancient ruins. Instantly the theatre/drama creative in me couldn’t help but think about the presence of Kings and Queens like Franz von Sickingen. 😬 (now that’s blogging for another day). I think about the rocky spur of the Kahlenberg above the town of Landstuhl in the district of Kaiserslautern. It towers the mighty castle ruin Nanstein. It was in between a hollowed out rock chamber that Franz von Sickingen died during a siege at the hands of three great imperial princes.
It is a privilege to be able to vacation in Europe. You get to be around thousand of years of preserved history. I do this for motivation. In due time my hope is that my explorations will take me to uncover the continent of my ancestry. I’m thankful for Europe because I appreciate tourism and dream of a better day when the comfort and ease of traveling to explore Africa is possible..
“I don't think of myself as a history buff but a great day for me would include visiting a museum or taking a tour of a castle.”
Burg Nanstein was built because the Roman Emperor Frederick I demanded its construction as additional defense for the Palatinate. Similar to many other castles in the Palatinate Forest, the main castle is located on a high sandstone rock, which in turn is provided with hollowed out rock chambers. Around the sandstone cliffs are grouped the remains of the residential and farm buildings of the lower castle.
In 1504, German knight Franz von Sickingen inherited part of the castle after his father's death in the War of the Bavarian Succession, finally acquiring the entire castle in 1518. He immediately began extensive re-fortification to make the castle suitable for firearms.
However Nanstein is well known for an elaborate siege during the Knights' Revolt in 1523 which claimed the life of von Sickingen. The fall of Nanstein was a symbol for the decline of castles in the Palatinate. In 1542, von Sickingen's sons recovered Nanstein and started the reconstruction of the castle. Reinhard von Sickingen completed the reconstruction in 1595. In 1668, Elector Charles I Louis forced Lotharingian troops from the castle and destroyed the fortifications.
In its heyday, the castle was well prepared against attackers. The former multi-story gun bastion, which was partially rebuilt in 1983, was a major obstacle on the mountain and attack side. West of it provided a small roundabout from the 16th century, as well as a no longer existing bastion and the gate for a further protection of the outer bailey. At its eastern narrow side the remains of a Gothic chapel and a residential building can be seen. Instead of the outer bailey, today a restaurant with a viewing terrace. The main castle visible today mainly reflects the last major expansion phase from the 15th and 16th centuries, when the complex was expanded as a castle under the descendants of Franz von Sickingen. In the 19th century the first conservation work was done on Nanstein, and has continued to the present
Today, open air games are held every year in summer on their castle courtyard. The impressive shield wall from the 13th century, the newly staged death chamber of Franz von Sickingen and the view from the rock plateau should not be missed.
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