This week’s journey takes us back to the beautiful ruins of Hardenburg Castle. The remains of this spectacular fortress – located near the spa town of Bad Dürkheim – are among the most extensive and well-preserved in the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz.
Built high on a mountain ridge above the Isenach Valley in the early 13th century, Hardenburg evolved from a relatively modest medieval castle into a magnificent Renaissance residence for the powerful Counts of Leiningen. Meter-thick walls, turrets, gates and battlements were added in the 16th century alongside spacious residential areas, a library and an expansive pleasure garden, demonstrating the castle’s function as both a defensive fortification and a sumptuous dwelling befitting a noble family. Hardenburg was occupied and partially leveled by French troops in 1690 during the War of Palatine Succession, and in 1725 the Counts of Leiningen relocated their primary residence to a new baroque palace in nearby Bad Dürkheim. French revolutionary troops went on to destroy most of the castle – and to pillage its lavish contents – in 1794. The ruins became property of the State of Rheinland-Pfalz in 1947.
In 2012, a modern information center was erected at the castle’s entrance. The center houses a small permanent collection of archaeological finds from the 16th and 17th century, bearing witness to the wealth and opulence of the castle’s one-time occupants.
We’ve explored Hardenburg on a handful of occasions, as it’s a favorite local destination to take visitors to Germany. The images below were captured on our very first visit to the castle in late October 2015.
Hardenburg is one of the few castles in this part of Germany with an entrance fee and limited hours of accessibility; please see the castle’s website for updated information. Please also be advised that dogs are not allowed on the premises – poor Griffey was turned away on our initial visit.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure in the Palatinate! – T. & B. June
Next week’s journey: La Main de Massiges – France