Destinations, Germany, hiking, history trips, Musings

Postcards from Germany: Altdahn Castle (and a poem)

Altdahn Castle

Last summer my family traveled to Germany without me. I had a lovely time at home in Vermont, but the guys got to explore castles and ancient ruins in the German countryside. One of their favorite explorations took them to Altdahn Castle near Dahn in the Palatinate Forest. The castle was probably built in the 13th century, and has quite an interesting history.  Eric wrote a poetic tribute to Altdhan which I’m sharing with you today. The photos were taken by the kids (who aren’t really kids anymore).Altdahn Castle

Altdahn Castle

Altdahn Castle

The Ruins of Altdahn Castle

-by Eric Schatz

In the south of Germany, west of the slow-moving waters of the Rhine,
Far across vast vineyards, open plains and broad sloping hillsides,
Squared on shoulders of steep wooded mountain glades,
Hedged round by thick green forests of oak, beech, hazel and pine,
Rising from the red rocky crags…

Altdahn! Stronghold of Lord Dahn,
Highest of the three Dahn castles,
Deep in the majestic mountains of the Palatine,
Burning red sandstone towers and walls soaring into the summer sky,
Holding hidden passages haunted by the machinations of medieval men.

Seven centuries since, men chiseled into the mountain’s hard belly,
Shaping and laying the stolen stone into high sloping walls and turreted towers,
Leaving behind sculpted scarlet chambers, stairs and secret halls–
Cave-like and cool in the tourist summer but bright with torchlight
And thick with smoke in the deathly winter of Lord Dahn’s day.

The whispering winds of ages winds among the ruins,
Sanding smooth the edges of the red-hued stone,
Softening the sturdy passages and paths within the palace,
Vanquishing violent adventures of men pursuing power,
And aiding ancient nature’s epic bid to overrule their rulers.

Altdahn–whose landlords for 500 years plotted for power in torchlit chambers,
Destroying, rebuilding, fighting foes, and forfeiting their famed fortress–
Looms in peaceful ruins above prosperous villages and valleys,
Sheltering tiny tan lizards who skirt the sandstone, freeze in sunlight,
And hiss! at curious characters stooping to study the castle’s latest lords.

Altdahn–whose terrible end became a herald for nature’s current ruinous reign
Blooming triumphantly in pink roses from the fractured foundation–
Sits silent with dark mountain doors tempting tanned tourists
To go wandering, cool among its shaded halls, and out again blinking,
In the sun that pierces the parapets and watching windows of the mighty mountain hold.

Altdahn Castle

Altdahn Castle

Altdahn Castle

Want to Read More About Our Trip to Germany?

Check out these posts:

Germany’s Renegade Art: From a Kid with a Camera

Friday Postcards: From Germany with Love

Explore the Altdahn Castle ruins in Southwestern Germany


  1. What an incredible castle…or what’s left of it! I really want to visit Germany this year, and practice the German I’m currently studying. Adding Altdahn to my list of potential places to visit.

    And, a wonderfully written poem by Eric!
    Christabel recently posted…4 Days in Vienna, Austria: Here’s What To See & DoMy Profile

  2. That shot of the castle from above reminds me of Machu Picchu so much. Great poem and what a trip! Can’t wait to visit Germany’s many castles.
    Hung Thai recently posted…If I told you how I could afford to travel every month, my fiancé would kill me – let’s do it!My Profile

  3. Hi Tara. It’s been a while since I stopped by. What can I say? It’s been busy. And tomorrow I start with the A to Z blogging challenge– don’t ask me why! I need to get my head examined, I think.
    LOVE all these photos. BUT ABSOLUTELY ADORE the rose shot. It felt like I was there at the castle touching the walls and listening to them whisper their history. to me. Please thank your family for bringing us this treat. Enjoy your weekend and hope to visit soon. xx

  4. I have yet to go to Europe but I’d definitely add Germany to my itinerary. Cool photos!

  5. Wow, this is gorgeous! I wish I could visit a German castle! This is such a beautiful location. Thanks for sharing your photos.

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