The Saint-Protected Marksburg 凭吊神佑莱茵古堡
Formed by melting snowfields high in the Swiss Alps, the 1)mighty Rhine carves an 800-mile channel through the heart of Europe. In the 50-mile stretch between Mainz and Koblenz, Germany, some 30 castles and ruins tower above the rivers edge, every bend and coil in the snaking waterway seems to reveal another. Rhine travellers not only get a journey through Europe’s heart but backwards through time itself. These spectacular 2)vistas have survived virtually unchanged since the 3)Middle Ages.
A few miles downriver, on the east bank of the Rhine, a high cone-shaped hill rises above the quiet 4)hamlet of Braubach. This is the Marksburg.
For stability, the Marksburg’s walls are 5)triangular and built so close to the hills edge that in places it’s hard to see where the rocks end and the walls begin. Old foundations reveal that the 6)citadel began as a fortified tower, probably built by the 10th century Franks. The Roman-styled central tower was built about 200 years later, subsequent owners of the Marksburg erected an additional defensive wall. Unlike other castles, the Marksburg has survived into the 20th century as more than a ruin or a romantic restoration. Despite additions in the 17th and 18th centuries, its medieval character has been magnificently preserved.
7)Adjoining the knights’ hall inside the second tower is a striking 8)polygonal 9)chapel spanned by 10)groined 11)vaulting in 10 sections. Colourful biblical scenes compete overhead with 12)flattering portraits of knights.
This portrait 13)depicts Saint Mark, he played a vital role in the legend that gave the fortress its name.
Long ago, Elizabeth, a 14)maiden of the castle, became secretly engaged to a knight called Siegbert. When Siegbert went to war on behalf of his king, Elizabeth waited for him, but in vain. Word came that in a 15)gruesome battle her beloved had been killed. In her grief, Elizabeth was comforted by a 16)stalwart monk called Markus. Soon, a mysterious knight named Rochus appeared asking for Elizabeth’s hand. Reluctantly, she agreed to be wed and the kingdom celebrated the 17)nuptials, all except for the monk, Markus. He was suspicious of the mysterious Rochus and prayed for guidance.
On the night before the wedding, Markus had a strange and disturbing vision. In a flash of blinding light, Saint Mark the Apostle appeared. Giving Markus a cross, he told the loyal monk that Rokus was the devil himself. He must be 18)banished from the castle.
In the morning, Rokus and Elizabeth were to come to the chapel. Markus waited for just the right moment. The demon screamed, beneath him the earth opened wide. The Apostle Mark appeared once again to protect the 19)mortals with a holy sword. Since that day, 20)Schloss Braubach has worn the name of the Saint, Marksburg.
Chief of the 21)von Katzenelnbogen clan was Philip the Elderly, an adventurous if aged 22)bon vivant. Even in his 23)twilight years he 24)craved parties, the hunt and adventure. And when he died in 1479, there was no male von Katzenelnbogen to carry on the family name. His beloved castle Marksburg fell into the hands of his son-in-law, Heinrich von Hessen. But with their own castle far away, the von Hessens had only a 25)fleeting interest in the Marksburg. They visited long enough to pay their respects to the former lord then stripped the castle of its valuables, including Philip’s extensive library and treasures of silver and gold. No noble man would ever live here again. Marksburg’s years as a 26)regal showplace had ended. An era had come to a close.
Only recently, after more than 1,000 years 27)unscathed did the great castle endure its darkest moments. In 1945, while occupied by retreating German troops, it came under American 28)grenade fire. Its wounds, however, were minor. Perhaps, once more Saint Mark lent a hand in protecting the stronghold, leaving the greatest treasure of the Rhine intact to this day.