Pfalzgrafenstein, the Castle in the Middle of Rhein River

In the middle of the Rhein river stands a picturesque Pfalzgrafenstein Castle. It was built by King Ludwig the Bavarian in 1326 to collect the toll. The part of river between Bacharach and Kaub was considered a dangerous passage for sailors over the past centuries. Those who wanted to pass the wild stream had to pass Pfalzgrafenstein Castle. Thus it was a source of income for various rulers. However, it was never used as a residence. it is one of the many romantic castles along the Rhine river.

History Information

The castle made King Ludwig himself in trouble with the Pope and the Rhenish archbishops. Therefore he was excommunicated by Pope John XXII in 1327. In 1340, 12-metre high circular wall was built in order to protect the tower. In 1607 the external wall was completed by Frederic IV, Elector Palatine of the Rhine to give the castle the shape you see today. It is 51 metres long, 21 metres wide and 25 metres high with walls that were 2.6 metres thick.

Pfalzgrafensteine Castle on a Tiny Island
Pfalzgrafensteine Castle on a Tiny Island

The castle’s island was used in 1814 by Prussian Field Marshal Blücher as passage for his 60,000 troops in pursuit of Napoleon. Meanwhile the castle continued to be a toll station until 1867. About one year after the castle was acquired by the Prussian government. The “Baroque” roof on the tower was not added until 1714, bringing its height to 36 metres. Since 1946 Pfalzgrafenstein is owned by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. In the years 1969 to 1975, the castle was completely renovated and repaired in red and white baroque color version.

Castle Visiting

I visited the castle on an usual Sunday in May. During the off-season there are not so many tourists. I was able to take some good pictures without any tourists jumping into my view. After entering the yard I followed the narrow path along the Gothic ring wall with its narrow loopholes. The former powder chamber was barely furnished.  Walking up the gloomy gun bastion up to the main tower,  I had an wider view. The Rhine seems flowing calmly. But you should not underestimate the current. King Ludwig knew that centuries ago. And if you want to know more details you can also book a guided tour.

Inside Pfalzgrafenstein Castle
Inside Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Take some time to walk around outside the castle and to take more pictures of the terraced vineyards, town of Kaub and other fortifications on the hills.  In addition to its unusual location the castle has also a unique setting — its roof is so beautiful as well.

I spent an hour on the island and inside the castle. This is an underrated attraction because most tourists tend to visit other castles along the Rhein river. It only takes less than two hours of driving from Frankfurt. It is actually a perfect for a day trip from Frankfurt am Main.

View of Terraced Vineyard and Fortifications from the Island
View of Terraced Vineyard and Fortifications from the Island

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle Address

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein
56349 Kaub
Guided tours
Tel: +49 (0) 6774 – 745
Fax: +49 (0) 6774 – 8174

How to get there

The best way is to drive there via B42. There are plenty parking places not far from the ferry. If arrival by train, you get off at Kaub train station It is about 5 minutes walk to the ferry.

In Kaub, there is a small ferry brings visitors from Kaub to the castle every half hour. It does not operate at high water levels. Check the latest information at its website:



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