During our stay in Munich, we signed up for a day tour of the Romantic Road, which included a stop at Harburg Castle. This hilltop castle, which overlooks the town of Harburg, is from the 11th century and is one of Germany's largest, oldest, strongest, and best-preserved fortifications. The castle served as an important military stronghold during the reign of the Staufer-Kings from 1070 to 1272, before being transferred to the Count of Oettingen.

Our stop included a brief tour of the castle complex, including the castle ballroom, prison tower, and sentry walk. The walk allowed us to see how the guards defended the castle by use of the machicolations and embrasures in the curtain wall. During an attack, hot oil or burnt pitch was poured through the machicolations onto the offenders below. The higher embrasures had wooden spheres with holes, called "wooden eyes", embedded into them; these spheres could be twisted to allow a defender to shoot at an outside attacker through the hole and then twisted again towards the wall for protection. It was impressive.

Photos from our tour below. It almost looks like a film set.

^^ sentry walk with machicolations and embrasures ^^
^^ wooden eye ^^

The castle is worth the stop if you're in the area and your schedule allows it. Splurge for the guided tour (additional cost) to see the castle interior. Note that guided tours in English are limited.


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