Frankenstein Castle

Categories: Sightseeing, Cultural and History

Castle Frankenstein
Castle Frankenstein

[ source: Wikipedia]

For most lovers of English literature, the name Frankenstein conjures of images associated with one of the most popular books of the 19th century, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. What many may not know is that Frankenstein is also the name associated with a castle in Germany. Located about 5 kilometers south of Darmstadt (Darmstadt vacation rentals | Darmstadt travel guide), Frankenstein Castle was built prior to 1250 by Lord Konrad II Reiz von Breuberg (Breuberg vacation rentals | Breuberg travel guide) (who later added to his name, von und zu Frankenstein). The hill on which the castle stands had likely been the location of an earlier castle from the 11th century. In 1292, the Frankensteins decided to share their castle with another noble family, the counts of Katzenelnbogen (Katzenelnbogen vacation rentals | Katzenelnbogen travel guide). At this time, Frankenstein Castle was actually physically divided into two sections, with one part occupied by each residing family.

In the 1660s, Frankenstein Castle was sold and it subsequently became a prison and a hospital. The structure's condition worsened over the years, and the castle was already in ruins by the 18th century. The two towers at the castle site today were the result of an inaccurate restoration attempt in the mid-1800s. In the 1960s, a restaurant was built in the castle and is still open today. Besides the restaurant, a medieval chapel (1193) is still used for weddings. The site is free to the public to visit from 9 am to dusk. For a fee, tours of the site are offered in English. Around Halloween, a haunted house attracts visitors interested in the possible darker dimensions of Frankenstein Castle's history.

The connection between Mary Shelley and Frankenstein Castle is tenuous at best. There is no mention of the castle in Shelley's travel diary from 1814, shortly before she wrote the novel. However, she did take a trip along the Rhine and stopped off in a town about 10 iles from the castle. There is also debate that Shelley was influenced by the life of Johann Conrad Dippel, who was born at Frankenstein Castle. Dippel was an alchemist, and he claimed that he had concocted an elixir of life. He also argued that he had found a way to transfer the soul of one corpse to another, and was rumored to practice anatomy and alchemical experiments on corpses. In some ways, although no concrete connection between them exists, the parallels between Dippel's life and Shelley's novel are interesting.

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About this Article

Rachel Hildebrandt

This travel guide has been written by Rachel Hildebrandt.

Starting with her first trip to Germany at the age of 16, Rachel has traveled, worked, and studied in Germany extensively. Although her first encounter with German culture was in Lower Saxony, since that time the focus of her subsequent work as a freelance historian and translator has shifted eastward. Building on her graduate studies in Dresden, Rachel has worked for a variety of German foundations as a historian and translator, and is currently pursuing research pertaining to the Sorbs in Lusatia (eastern Saxony).

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Location, Map, and Driving Directions

Location: Burg Frankenstein 64367 Mühltal, Germany

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