Can you imagine a place where medieval castles still exist? The Eltz Castle is one of the rare fortresses that’s left standing in Wierschem, Germany. Tucked into the green, rolling hills near Moselle River, this castle is definitely reminiscent of Game of Thrones. Discover five incredible things that you didn’t know about Eltz Castle.

11th Century style

It’s hard to believe how old that the Eltz Castle really is. Built in the 11th century during the Stauffer dynasty, it sits atop a boulder in a hidden German valley. Although the majority of ancient castles were demolished during a war in Central Europe, somehow, the epic Eltz castle remained intact despite its strategic war placement.

That’s not to say that the Eltz Castle didn’t suffer from its fair share of battle wounds. During its long history, the Archbishop of the Diocese of Trier placed the citadel under siege and attacked it with catapults. The Eltz family and the Archbishop waged war over land for about two years. Fortunately, this battle was put to an end when the free knights were forced to concede their freedom.

33 generations of owners

One of the most incredible facts about the Eltz Castle is that it’s been owned by the same family for 33 generations. Called the Burg Eltz in German, the castle has been under the ownership of the Eltz family since 1157. During the 12th century, there was a bit of drama between the three Eltz brothers. As a result, they divided their family into three different groups. Following the split, the three families were referred to as Eltz-Kempenich, Eltz-Rubernack, and Eltz-Rodendorf. The castle was nicknamed “Ganerbenburg,” which alluded to a castle that multiple families lived in. All three families resided at Burg Eltz until the 17th century, and it’s been owned by the Eltz-Kempenich since the early 1800s.

Under renovation

In the 19th century, the Eltz Castle received its first major facelift. Count Karl Zu Eltz ensured that the tower underwent renovations that stayed true to its authentic medieval style. He spent the equivalent of 15 million euros on construction from 1845 to 1888. The fortress also received another touch up for structural damage from 2009 to 2012. At this time, several halls, walls, porches, and roofs were reinforced and updated. The interior’s heating, restrooms, windows, and fire alarms were refreshed, and the ancient plaster was reinstated. The German government gave the Eltz’s a two million euro grant to complete restorations.

Clown decor

The funniest fact about the Burg Eltz is that its Knights Halls is strewn with jester heads along the walls. The Knights Hall used to be the main spot where the Knights of Eltz would hold their meetups. Apparently, the jesters represent free speech since they can joke about anything without being punished. They are also meant to warn people to avoid the inflation of their own egos. Back in medieval times, wisdom and foolishness and good and evil were viewed as side-by-side. Despite their best intentions, this hallway would probably be a nightmare to walk through at nighttime.

Famous guests

The Burg Eltz has been home to many famous guests throughout its existence. Some celebrity visitors included Emperor Frederick II, the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, and French poet Victor Hugo. Other celebrated patrons visited the castle during the last 900 years, such as the English painter William Turner. Three German presidents, Karl Carstens, Horst Köhler, and Christian Wulff, paid special visits to the Eltz Castle as well. Even two First Ladies from the United States, Bird Johnson and Rosalynn Carter, spent time in the historic stronghold.