The main activity for today was to visit Burg Eltz, a medieval castle which has never been destroyed, and in fact has been owned by the Eltz family for about 850 years. It is situated in a valley, but on a hill in the loop of a meandering river… a really perfect, picturesque site. The living owners, the 33rd generation Eltz, sometimes even still reside there. Originally the castle was 3 separate families, each with their own house but with shared walls for protection. Over time 2 of the families have died out and been bought out, leaving the single remaining family.
Major scaffolding and crane on the outside notwithstanding, this place was a real treat. This is an authentic castle, not some romantic rebuild. And while it has been modernized over time (power and water, modern-day wurst kitchen to serve the tourists), much remains amazingly original. This region is greatly made up of slate, and the castle is built mostly of that plentiful, native rock, roofs included. It reminds me greatly of the Roman method of construction with thin bricks and thick layers of mortar. Hmmm, they probably brought forward a thing or two from the Romans, those medieval folk.
On returning back to our apartment, we were able to take a short tour around our host’s winery. This same plentiful slate is also responsible for the excellent wines of the region, as it apparently helps the soils of the sloped fields retain their heat well, resulting in a particularly good environment for growing grapes.
The days photos can be found here.