Castles

The Spangenberg Castle from the 11th century
The Spangenberg Castle is the most prominent landmark of the valley, situated on a steep and mighty rock wedge. In 1100, it passed into the possession of the Bishopric of Speyer and was mentioned then for the first time. After being destroyed in 1480, the castle was once again rebuilt, but has remained a ruin since the Thirty Years War. Significant parts of the palace, the gatehouse located in front of the main castle and parts of its underpinnings have been preserved, though. Both the castle itself and its tavern have been renovated.

Guided tours and medieval banquets are held by appointment. The Castle Tavern is open 1pm–7pm Saturdays and 10am–7pm Sundays and holidays. Call +49 (0) 6325/2027 or visit http://www.burg-spangenberg.de

The Elmstein Castle ruins
In the 12th century, the Elmstein castle was built as the Palatinate Count's castle. Its function was to secure the route through the valley. It once included the houses in the valley within its walls. In 1525, it was plundered by farmers from the Kleeburg surroundings and destroyed by the French in 1688. The remains of the castle ring, palace and its shield wall have been preserved. Its past glory is demonstrated by the slender remains of the wall. It is this castle which is located furthest up the valley. It concludes the chain of the Spangenberg, Erfenstein and Breitenstein castles. Today, this castle is privately owned.

The Breitenstein Castle ruins
The ruins of Breitenstein are hidden behind a mountain top north of Speyerbach in the Elmstein Valley, opposite the forest house bearing the same name. Little is known about this castle. It was built in the mid 13th century by the Counts of Leiningen. Both the palace and the ring wall in the middle of the castle ring are situated on a steep boulder. In 1470 the castle was destroyed, but has recently been restored.

The Erfenstein Castle ruins
The Erfenstein Castle was built in the mid 13th century by the Counts of Leiningen. In 1470, the castle was destroyed. The Erfenstein, itself a rectangular donjon placed on a rock, has been preserved and renovated. Following a legend, a leather strap is supposed to have once connected the Erfenstein castle to the Spangenberg castle located opposite.

The Lichtenstein Castle
Situated at an altitude of approximately 300 yards (270m) on a hillside of the Lichtstein Head (Lichtensteiner Kopf) west from Neidenfels, the Lichtenstein Castle was probably constructed in the late 11th century. Remains of the wall are grouped around a rocky base today, which used to bear the fortified tower. The Lichtenstein castle has been overgrown by the forest and can no longer be seen, even from a few meters.

The Neidenfels Castle
The Neidenfels Castle was built after 1229 by the Palatinate Count Rudolf II to protect forests and the road, as well as to provide shelter during hunting. It is situated over the ancient vineyard terraces assembled from its walls.