Of all the castles in Hesse, Frankenstein is undoubtedly the one with the greatest creepy factor. This is ensured by the autumnal Halloween spectacles in the old walls. Apart from that, the northernmost castle of the Odenwald offers a dreamlike distant view, which already attracted romantic excursionists in the middle of the 19th century.
Frankenstein. The name of the castle has made it to international fame through the motif of the theme first told by the Englishwoman Mary Shelley (1793-1851), which has been varied many times in literature and film. In her book “Frankenstein or Modern Prometheus,” published in 1818, she has Dr. Viktor Frankenstein create an artificial human being. His creature becomes a monster and a synonym for horror par excellence.
The name of the castle must have had a magical effect on the soldiers stationed in Darmstadt and the surrounding area after World War II. After a live broadcast of the American Forces Network from the castle, which recommended the ruin as “the real home of the monster”, In 1976 for the first time the castle was venue for a scary Halloween spectacle and established a tradition.
The history of the castle, which lies a few kilometers south of Darmstadt on the northernmost foothills of the Odenwald and belongs to the municipality of Mühltal, begins in 1252. Frankenstein is mentioned for the first time in a document as well as its presumed builder, Konrad Reiz von Breuberg. Together with his wife Elisabeth von Weiterstadt, he established his own dominion here and the family of Frankenstein.
Convenience was not the priority, but defense
The southern parts of the core castle are still preserved from this early period. It is located to the right of the west gate, which can be reached from the central visitor parking lot. The core castle also included the tower and towering above it, the kitchen building and the manorial palace. The narrowness of the castle is still visible today, – comfort was not a consideration in the construction of a medieval castle complex – its sole purpose was to defend against attackers and to protect its inhabitants.
Around 1400, the complex was extended by the northern outer castle with farm buildings and servants’ quarters. After years of quarrels with the Landgraves of Hesse-Darmstadt over questions of confession and the exercise of sovereign rights, the von Frankenstein family sold the castle and dominion to Landgrave Ludwig VI in 1662. From the proceeds, the Frankensteins acquired a dominion in Ullstadt in Middle Franconia, where their descendants still live today.
The novelist Shelley was never there
With its use as a prison and housing for military invalids, the castle, which had never been besieged or destroyed before, fell into disrepair. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Frankenstein – surrounded by dense forests and with a magnificent view – became the destination for hikers and excursionists, who revelled in the legendary, former romance of knights. However, historians today relegate to the realm of fantasy the fact that Mary Shelley is said to have visited the ruins during her trip to the Rhine in 1814 and was inspired to write her novel there.
Grand Duke ensures protection of the ruins
Grand Duke Ludwig III of Hesse and by Rhine had the remaining ruins protected from further decay and, among other things, had the two towers restored to the taste of the time. In the 1960s, a modern restaurant was established in the outer castle in place of the historic farm buildings.
A place for celebrations
From the terrace you can enjoy a wonderful view in the direction of the Rhine plain, Frankfurt, the Taunus and the Palatinate Forest. The rooms are often used for celebrations, such as by wedding couples who say their vows in the late Gothic castle chapel, which was restored around 1850, for civil, church or free weddings.