Thursday, November 03, 2011

Eventful Burg Arras

The entrance to Burg Arras (All text and photos copyright to Eventful Woman)
The tourist pamphlet said all the right things to get the attention of any Eventful Person: The eventful history of Arras Castle (Burg Arras) is closely linked with the eventful German history from the beginning Roman period up to the end of the Middle Ages.

View of castle from car park
(after the mist cleared in the afternoon)
Burg Arras is perched on a steep, rocky hill above Alf and around 10 km from Zell an der Mosel. Fortunately, we had the use of a friend's car, so walking up hill was limited to just the distance from the castle's car park. Of course, for those who like to walk a lot, Burg Arras is on the walking trail from Alf to Reil and via the Marienburg and Prinzenkopf viewing points.

The hill was fortified by the Romans around 350 AD and its name harks back to this time (Latin: arrha = fortified mountain).

The castle was built between 900 and 950 AD to protect the area from the invading Normans. Like so many others in the Mosel Valley, the castle was wrecked by the French (under the orders of Louis XIV (The Sun King) in the late 1600s.

One of the many display items
For awhile, the Castle was derelict, but the Keep with its 4 metre thick walls stood firm. Around 1900, a wealthy director of a mining-company restored the castle and made the castle liveable once more.

The onsite museum provides some fascinating insights into the history of the Castle and of the Mosel Valley. There is a large collection of lithographs, graphic prints, ceramics and paintings showing the buildings, people and places along the river. In addition, there's the usual of suits of armour and medieval weapons for those who like things that stab, kill or go bang.

The memorial room to the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany), Heinrich Lübke, – a relative of today´s owners - is definitely worth a look.  Some of the gifts he received while in office (1959 - 1969) are on display such as the exquisite Japanese and Korean screens and a wall-hanging/tapestry from Madam Pompadour´s property, which was presented by the President of the French Republic.  For those who like political history, check out the photos on the walls of President Lübke with several of his contemporaries, such as President Lyndon Johnson and President Charles de Gaulle.
Korean screen

Detail in the Korean screen
There's supposedly a splendid view from the top of the castle. I even walked up hill to see for myself but the morning mist had still not cleared.

It seems that nearly everyone has been involved with Burg Arras at some point - the Celts, Romans, Normans, French, Prussians and Germans, including some famous names like Bruno II of Berg, who was the Archbishop of Cologne, and who consecrated the on-site chapel.  The knights of Arras made the castle their home in the early Middle Ages. Emperor Maximilian I stopped for the night in March 1512.  While Napoleon may not have been here (there's no record of it) he clearly knew of the castle, as there are two letters signed by him on display.

Napoleon's letters (click on the photo to enlarge)
You too can also stay or eat at Burg Arras. The former imperial part of the castle is now a hotel and a restaurant, which they claim is the only hotel in a castle along the Mosel River. The rooms have canopies, turrets and look very appropriate, but they also have all of the mod cons such as spa baths. 

Window in the castle
There is also an onsite cosmetic laser institute. How bizarre!  However, perhaps it's just the thing to remove wrinkles after drinking too much good Mosel wine. The rather scary information provided in English says that the institute "implements permanent makeup. Experience the special atmosphere of a medieval knight."  I suspect something got lost in the translation.

Speaking of scary, make sure you also take the old stairs down to the horror chamber dungeons beneath the castle.

Find out more:
 (All text and photos copyright to Eventful Woman)
Eventful Woman (in red) exploring Burg Arras' Keep


  1. Anonymous5:01 pm

    I'm Pam Arras and my husband is Randy Arras and this is our ancestors- We hope to visit this place someday. Massillon OH

  2. I'm sure it will be an eventful trip for you and Randy. It would be fantastic if you also stayed at the castle. Please let me know about your experiences.

  3. Anonymous2:28 pm

    I am also a decendant of the Knights of Arras, but probably not as directly as you. I'm related to the Metzenhausen family that is mentioned in some of the articles about Arras castle. My family also lived in Bourglinster castle in Luxembourg. I hope to one day visit both castles.

  4. I hope you make it to Burg Arras. It's definitely worth it. Make it an eventful visit and sleep in a 4-poster bed in the castle.


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