Castle Trifels in the Palatinate


In the Palatinate Woods, atop a high hill overlooking the small town of Anweiler, stands a castle which in the middle ages was one of the most important structures in Germany. Named Trifels, or three rocks because there are three adjacent hill summits (see photo below), it is said that in antiquity a fortress-like structure, probably of Celtic origin, stood on the highest hilltop where Castle Trifels now stands. Surrounded by dense woods, this Castle had at least two claims to fame. First, it housed the German imperial insignia (crown, orb, scepter, sword) and important relics from 1125-1298 A.D. (see photo below right). As it was the rule then that he possesses the imperial insignia rules Germany, successive German rulers apparently felt that the seemingly impregnable Castle was their best guarantor of power. Second, it was at this Castle that the English King "Richard the Lionheart" was held captive in 1193 and possibly in 1194. King Richard was taken prisoner on the orders of the vengeful Austrian Archduke Leopold V as he was returning to England from the Crusades, and subsequently handed over to the German King Henry VI, who transported him to Trifels and ransomed him to the English for a handsome sum of gold. As the middle ages drew to a close, Trifel's importance diminished. It was ravaged by fire when lightning struck it in 1602. The castle served as a place of refuge for the inhabitants on the area from death and destruction during the thirty years war (1618-48). Years later, as the region was gripped by the plague, Trifels fell into abandonment and was misused by the locals as a quarry. Rescued by conservationists in the 19th century, Trifels was restored under Hitler's National Socialists in 1938, but bears little architectural resemblance now with the Trifels of old apart from a few surving structures.  

Today, Castle Trifels is but a mere, insignificant shadow of its former state. The imperial insignia are still kept here but they are replicas of the real ones, which are now housed at the Austrian historical museum in Vienna. And ye old King Richard is, off course, long gone with the wind. Still, the Castle is a lovely place to visit on a day's outing and it offers gorgeous views of the surrounding plains and villages, and conveys an aura of timelessness and history. I visited it on at least three occasions. To reach Trifels, you can park your vehicle in the parking lot above Anweiler and walk 30 minutes or so on a trail which, I may hasten to add, is rather steep and winding at places. If you're not a frequent mountain hiker, you'll probably have to spend a few minutes catching your breath when you reach the castle gates but, take it from me, it's well worth the effort. For those who cannot walk the trail, there is another parking lot close to the base of the Castle. Vistors have to pay a small fee to enter the Castle.

Many vistors have taken great photos at Castle Trifels. See the image galleries of Kristian Koehntopp and Mathias Mischler. Nice photos of the Castle can also be found here. I found a website with a 360-degree navigatible panorama of the Castle which is worth seeing. The beautiful photo below of the Castle amidst its beautiful surroundings was taken by H. Sommer. My own photos were taken on a cool Autumn day in the year 2000. The visit to the Castle was a real pleasure. The whole valley was submerged in a dense fog bank as we walked up the trail, giving it a magical and somewhat eerie feeling. And we had the Castle practically to ourselves! I was unaware of any other visitors at the time. By the way, the two young women accompany-ing me were my colleagues from the German University of Administrative Speyer, which is where I was studying public administration at the time. Both lived in the Hospiz which is featured in a seperate section on my website. My German colleague, Dorothea Postler, who is a law graduate, had come from her native northern state of Lower Saxony to spend one-semester in Speyer. My African colleague, whose name I can't recall now (but which I am trying to ascertain through other former colleagues), was enrolled in the masters programme in public administration, just as I was in 1999-2000. A native of Burkina Faso in West Africa, she is a married woman with children. Presently, she resides with her family in Burkina Faso's capital Ouagadougou.     


  Two photos taken when my colleagues and me were ascending the trail leading to the Castle. As you can see, its very wooded and somewhat steep. If you're not in the best of health or haven't been hiking for a while, the ascent is likely to tax your strength quite a bit.  
    Just look at the dense fog bank submerging the valley in these three photos! The silhouettes in the first two photos create an amazing, almost surreal effect. The second photo from the left is my favourite in the whole set. These photos are shown exactly as they were taken - no digital manipulation going on here.  
  Two photos of me against the hilly backdrop and one photo of Dorothea. I like the relaxed, care-free way she is leaning against the Castle gate.    

Dorothea and my colleague inspect-ing the pay machine which gives vistors to the Castle a run down of its history (first photo). The other photos show great views from the Castle walls.  

    Photos of my colleagues and me just lounging around and taking in the lovely views from the Castle.  
  The photo on the left shows the town of Anweiler, above which Castle Trifels is situated. The first photo on the right shows the view from one of the Castle's windows. The second photo on the right shows the Castle's main (and rebuilt) structure.    

In my write-up of Castle Trifels at the top of the page I mentioned that it houses reproductions of the German imperial insignia. In these photos, we pose in front of these insignia (this was Dorothea's great idea). Ahmm, actually, we're making it out as if we are wearing the imperial crown and holding the imperial scepter and orb in our hands :=) 


One, two, three, four ... tra la la la ... A little dance on the floor of a large chamber inside Castle Trifels (photos on the left). The photo on the right shows a miniature reproduction of Castle Trifels inside a glass box.






  The five photos above show my colleagues and me amidst the beautiful setting of the surrounding countryside and were the ideal place to relax for a while, contemplate and take photos.

The photo on the left was the last in the series I took at Castle Trifels. We're on our way out at this point. The fog bank had disappeared by this time.  



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