Tucked away in the scenic Spessart forest stands Schloss Mespelbrunn. This late-medieval, early-Renaissance castle is one of the most famous Wasserschlosser (or moated castles) in Germany. At the edge of Bavaria, the castle is found between Frankfurt and Würzburg.
In 1412, Archbishop Johann von Nassau-Wiesbaden-Idstein gave the land to Hamann Echter, a knight. This was a reward for his services against the Czech. Initially, the site was just a forest clearing next to a pond on which Echter built a simple manor home. During this time, unfortunately, the Spessart was used as a hideout by bandits and the castle was defenseless against attacks. Echter’s son fortified the home into a castle with walls and towers and built the lake into a moat.
The following years were more peaceful and the family transformed the home into the romantic castle we see today. This last reconstruction was done from 1551-1569. The only original part of the castle left today is the round tower Bergfried.
Due to the castle’s remote location, it was spared from the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The Echter line, unfortunately, was not. The last male member of the Echter family died in 1665. This left only Maria Ottilia, Echterin of Mespelbrunn. Maria Ottilia married Philipp Ludwig of Ingelheim in 1648, a family later elevated to counts. The emperor gave permission for the Echter family to merge names with the Counts of Ingelheim in order to preserve the Echter line. They became known as Echter von und zu Mespelbrunn.
About the Castle
Schloss Mespelbrunn is still privately owned by the Ingelheims. After World War II, the family was forced to open the castle to the public due to mounting financial pressures. Today, the family still lives in the south wing of the house, while the north wing is open to the public.
In 1875, a Romanesque Revival chapel was built as a burial place for Ingelheims which can be seen during the tour. The tour also shows the ancestral family’s bed chambers, the Knight’s Hall, and the dining hall. The dining hall is still used today by the family.
The palace offers guided tours in German. You can either request an English tour in advance or follow along with a German tour with an English translation brochure (€0,50). No self-guided tours are available. Tours start every 25 minutes and last about 40 minutes. Groups over 25 people will be divided.
Due to the more secluded location of the castle, crowds are usually not too heavy and tour reservations are not offered
The castle does offer to host weddings, even while they are closed for the winter season (upon request)
About the Tour
Dogs are not allowed in the castle or on the grounds but can be left leashed in front of the gates
Photos are permitted in the castle
Strollers will not be able to navigate the stairs for the second portion of the tour
The second portion of the tour takes place upstairs and there is no elevator in the palace