The castle in Bad Vilbel

The castle in Bad Vilbel is a ‘water castle’, which means that it is located down in the valley and has a moat around it.

The oldest parts of the castle date from the 12th century. The original castle was destroyed in 1399, but later rebuilt in a bigger and better form. It was again destroyed in a siege in 1796 (by French revolutionary forces under General Jean-Baptiste Kléber), and remained a ruin after that.

(All you loyal readers of my Paris post Views from the Arch of Triumph might recall that one of the twelve avenues radiating out from the Arch is named after General Kléber.)

Since 1987 the castle in Bad Vilbel has been used every summer (except in the pandemic years) as the venue for the Burgfestspiele or Castle Festival.

What I didn’t know until recently is that the moat around the castle didn’t usually have water in it until the 1950s, when the castle was bought by the city of Bad Vilbel. Before then, the moat was usually dry, except perhaps in case of danger.

Castle wall and moat, 2005

In retrospect, it was not a good idea to keep the moat full of water for over half a century, because the ancient sandstone walls became very damp and started to crumble, necessitating a major restoration project.

Cultural center “Alte Mühle” in Bad Vilbel

Just across the Nidda River from the castle is a newish-looking building which for some reason is called the Alte Mühle or Old Mill (I suppose there was once a mill here, but there is no sign of any now, as far as I can see). This building is now a cultural center with a small theater and a popular restaurant.

Covered bridge over the Nidda River

This covered bridge across the Nidda was built in the 1990s to connect the two main cultural venues of Bad Vilbel, the Castle and the Old Mill.

My photos in this post are from 2005. I revised the text in 2023.

See more posts on Bad Vilbel, Germany.

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