Reichenstein Castle is also known as Falkenburg, standing on a mountain spur in the Rhine Valley. For a long time it was under the domain of a long line of robber knights that plundered everything and everyone. And the last of the robber knights are said to haunt the place as a headless ghost.

Germany may be one of the most beautiful and remarkable countries in Europe, but its haunted old castles have a history filled with ghost stories and legends that are sure to send chills down your spine. From dark fairytales of princesses and knights and robber kings to magnificent castles in ruins, these gloomy buildings have a history of hauntings that make them truly one-of-a-kind.

The oldest part of Reichenstein Castle is far up in the wine producing village of Trechtlingshausen in the Rhine Valley. The castle was built way back in the 11th century, but the castle has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times it is now a time capsule of history. The castle was meant to protect a neighboring village, but ended up with a long period of being the fortress for a robber knight that are said to still haunt the place. 

The Robber Baron

One of the people living in Reichenstein Castle was a robber baron named Dietrich von Hohenfels who lived in the castle at the end of the 1200s. He had grown up in Reichenstein Castle as the third born son of Philip von Hohenfels, a robber as well and didn’t know any other way of living. When he took over the castle after his father, he followed in his footsteps and it is said he got even more notorious than his father.

Dietrich von Hohenfels lived together with his nine sons and used the castle to hoard all of his riches he stole from passing ships in the Rhine River. Together the robber baron and the rest of his knights abused their subjects, stole their wives and robbed traders and defenseless wanderess alike according to the stories that are now told of them. 

All of this happened in a time of great turmoil known as the Great Interregnum in the Holy Roman Empire that Germany at the time was a part of. No one seemed to be able to gather under only one leader, and anarchy, crime and robber knights such as Dietrich von Hohenfels and his family ran rampant. 

This would all come to an end when the House of Habsburg would rise to power and rule the Holy Roman Empire for generations to come. In 1273, Rudolf von Hasburg was elected leader and started his campaign to stop all of the robber knights who had gained too much wealth and power and been left alone for too long. 

The Beheading of the Robbers

In the end the robber baron and his knights all got captured and had to pay for their crimes in 1282 when the whole castle was besieged by Rudolf von Habsburg. There are several variations of the legend. Some say that Dietrich von Hohenfels managed to escape the siege of Reichenstein Castle with his wife, Agnes, but the rest of his knights were hanged. But he didn’t live for long as his former subject bore a grudge and hunted him down, eventually finding him and killing him and his wife. Because of their crime and regrets, they are now wandering in their afterlife in the castle. 

Another variation of the legend tells that Dietrich von Hohenfels died together with his nine sons during the siege. In this version, Hohenfels pleaded for the lives of his sons, but his plea was denied. All of them were executed by decapitation and buried in the chapel inside of the castle. It says that the headless ghost of Hohenfels is still haunting Reichenstein Castle, himself haunted by being the reason his sons met their early demise. 

The last legend is how Dietrich von Hohenfels managed to save his sons with his head. When he pleaded to Rudolf von Habsburg, he was given a challenge. Dietrich von Hohenfels would be beheaded standing up, with his sons standing in a line to await their faith. Each son Dietrich von Hohenfels managed to pass after he was beheaded was to be spared. So he was beheaded and his headless body was swaying for a moment before passing all of his sons and managed to save their life. The sons were spared, and never heard from again. 

The Ghost of Reichenstein Castle

Not only do the old castles like Reichenstein Castle provide a peek into Germany’s past, but they also represent amazing architecture from centuries ago. There is something truly captivating about wandering through ancient walled fortifications and hearing about their cursed pasts in between eerie stories of ghostly figures passing by. 

Today it is said that the ghost of Dietrich von Hohenfels is heard rather than seen inside of the castle and the guests visiting are said to feel like they are never truly alone. Other unexplained things like windows and doors opening and closing without there being anyone there. 

And for eternity the once mighty Robber Baron Dietrich von Hohenfels are forced to haunt the grounds of the ruins of his own castle.

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Haunted Castles of the World by Charles A. Coulombe

Dietrich von Hohenfels

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