June 2019

I include the Sterrenberg castle and the Liebenstein castle in one review because of their historical nature. These two castles perched high above the town of Kamp-Bomhofen have the legendary name “Hostile Brothers.” There is no record of a divisive family. The general belief among scholars is there were disputes between different owners of the individual castles. This bit, and the saga itself, took the time the historian allotted to these castles.

Being the history buff that I am, I searched the internet for a better history of the two castles than the legend. There is very little, but I incorporated it in my journal entries from the cruise.

Records from 1034 indicate Sterrenberg is the oldest Rhine castle in existence. These castles are closer to each other than any two other castles ever in the Rhine River Valley. The castles were expanded over the centuries, but in the 14th century, a wall was built between the castles and became the basis for the myth of the family feud, which dates to 1587.

In reality, Liebenstein Castle, built in the 13th Century and therefore the younger one, was the forecastle of Sterrenberg Castle. The two shield walls served as improved defense of Sterrenberg.

In 1529, the castle was barely habitable and was abandoned by the end of the century. The property fell once again into inheritance disputes this time between Emperor Ferdinand II and the House of Nassau-Saarbrücken. Finally, in 1793, Baron Preuschen acquired the castle and his descendants oversee it today.

Preservation and restoration works were carried out in the 1970s restoring it to its medieval condition. This includes crenellation and white plaster in the tower. Numerous timber holes and chimneys in the inner and outer shield wall indicate there have been further residential buildings opposite to the wall.

Today there is a hotel and a restaurant in the main tower. One distinctive feature of the grounds is the wall between the two castles, which plays an important role in the saga.

As with most legends, there are several versions but with one basic plot. Following is the saga as the onboard historian told it.

As adults, two brothers, Henry and Konrad, built castles a few hundred yards apart. Each fell in love with their foster sister, Angela. Henry was outspoken and became engaged to Angela. Konrad was shy, and with an aching heart, decided to join the crusades. Henry wanted to do the same, so he left his fiancé and joined the crusades first. With his elder brother gone, Konrad had to remain home to care for their ailing father. In a fit of anger, Konrad built a wall between the two castles. Angela remained faithful to Henry through the following years.

Henry returned home with a Greek bride. Devastated, Angela entered a convent. Konrad died of a broken heart. Henry didn’t survive long. His wife eloped with someone, and Henry threw himself off the cliff.

Okay, there’s time to wipe your tears before you read next month’s segment about the largest castle overlooking the Rhine.