What’s a little cold when you have those views?
The Eltz Castle in Germany was built in stages on a hill in the Eltz Forest. This hodge podge construction gives the castle its unique look today and shows the long history of the place. The first building there dates to the 9th century with the more recent Gothic sections added in the 12th, 15th and 16th centuries. The castle grounds and some of the rooms are open to the public April to November, and many visitors find themselves wondering what it would be like to live there.
According to Count Jakob Von Zu Eltz, whose family has lived in the castle for more than 800 years and who grew up there, many facets of castle living aren’t what they at first seem. In this castle every other room has a fireplace, which would have been a huge fire risk with 40 fireplaces. But, to add to the toil of the medieval era huge iron plates were placed behind each fire in stone fireplaces. Once the fire had heated up the iron plate, the metal would be moved using special tongs to one of the rooms without a fireplace to radiate heat.
Tapestries were also a big help in keeping out the drafts since thick stone walls don’t ever really warm up. Beds were often made on platforms to be higher up so the occupants would be would warmer as the heat rises. They were also quite large to hold the whole family in a practice known as communal sleeping. This made the most of the body heat of multiple people and this was enhanced further with the use of thick curtains on the bed frame.
The count also pointed out that even with wealth there were some things that were too expensive. Burning candles and oil lamps at all hours of the night would have been far too costly, so instead window seats were added to large rooms so that the day’s work could be done by natural light. Then at night fewer candles would need to be lit.
Aspects of history like this show just how hard it was to be comfortable in one’s home back then- even for the very wealthy. When taken in that context a small cottage with chinked walls and a thatched roof would have retained heat much better and been far easier to heat than a castle. We imagine it would have been much cozier, too.
The count said in his interview with DW Travel that while the castle is spacious, it lacks what many people today would call luxury. Then there’s the renovations. Certainly any building will at times be in need of renovation or restoration- which can greatly disrupt living there. When you have a castle those renovations can be lengthy and often.
Many castle owners must feel that living through renovations is more like camping in a castle than living in a fairy tale fantasy. And, all those renovations cost a lot of money, too, which is why the Eltz Castle is reliant on the income that tourists bring in order to maintain itself.
You can see the stunning details of the inside of the castle in the video below, which also includes the count’s commentary on living there.