Murder, lost love and ghosts make up Castle Liebenstein’s charm. The 13th century castle sits on top of a hill along the Loreley Valley overlooking the River Rhine.
Legend has it that there were once two brothers whose castles, Liebenstein and Sterrenberg, rested on neighbouring hilltops.
They fell in love with the same siren, Angela, who despite being drawn to the elder brother, made a promise to stay true to the younger as he went to do battle in a distant land.
When he returned triumphant from war, he had on his arm a Greek bride. Driven to despair, Angela died celibate in a convent.
The two brothers became bitter enemies and one died at the hands of the other.
To this day the ghost of Angela is said to haunt Castle Liebenstein where she was to have lived with her beloved.
“On a full moon,” says Klaus Nickenig, manager of the castle, “she can be seen wandering around here, with her long blonde hair and white clothes.”
Nickenig claims to have spotted the maiden at least 12 times.
Together with his wife, Anita, he has transformed the castle into a delightful hotel, oozing charm and authenticity.
After a steep drive up from the town of Kamp Bornhofen, a crumbling slate tower is the first part of the castle to come into view.
The reward for a pulse-racing walk to the top of this tower is a panoramic view of the Loreley Valley – and the adjacent Sterrenberg castle.
Barges and paddle steamers float silently by, as the noise of the world is reduced to a whisper.
“It’s a romantic place here and I like castles,” says Anita Nickenig. “Twelve years ago, we jumped at the opportunity to rent the castle from its owner, the Baron of Pruschen.”
Inside the castle is a labyrinth of passageways that lead to bedrooms fit for feudal lords. Low ceilings and sloping floors make it a credible castle experience.
There is a sense of solitude at Liebenstein. Perhaps it is down to its isolated location, or its charming, crumbling facades. Then again, it could also be the wandering Angela.
swissinfo special correspondent, Samantha Tonkin in Castle Liebenstein
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