Historical demolition of the castle complex
First mention in the 11th century
The Saffenburg is derived from the old family of the Counts of Saffenberg. The name Saffenberg first appears in 1081. Count Adalbert von Saffenberg signed as a witness a document of the Elector of Cologne, whose liegeman he was.
Different noble families as owners
Later the descendants of Adalbert were the sole owners. They were followed by numerous different noble families as owners: In 1424, the complex came into the possession of the Counts of Virneburg and, after their extinction, of the Counts of Manderscheid-Schleiden, who were followed by the Counts of Marck-Schleiden in 1593.
Largest mountain castle in the Ahr valley
If one now considers the poor, narrow Ahr roads, on which nowhere could heavy siege guns be brought to the surrounding mountains, it becomes clear that even centuries after the invention of gunpowder, the Saffenburg retained its military importance.
Taken only twice
In the course of its history the Saffenburg has been occupied several times by various foreign powers. This was mostly done without bloodshed, only once was the castle taken in battle by enemy troops. In December 1632, Swedish mercenaries under General Wolf Heinrich von Baudissin from the Westerwald conquered the cities of Linz, Remagen and Andernach, among others. On 11 December Baudissin's soldiers occupied Ahrweiler and extorted 1000 Reichstaler. Two days later a division of about 800 men with three guns marched through the Ahr valley and camped in Recher Auel. After they had fired on the castle from the opposite heights, the Swedish troops stormed the castle on 14 December 1632. The crew, who had initially bravely resisted the attackers, fled via the rear outer wall, wounding the bailiff and later captured by the Swedish mercenaries. Seven Mayschossers died in the storm of the castle.
The attackers left behind a company of Brandenburg soldiers under Captain Rodinger and continued their plundering march through the Eifel. The new crew held out for another two months and capitulated two months later to Spanish and Kurkölnische troops.
In the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714) the French occupied the Ahr valley as allies of our Archbishop and Elector of Cologne. Only the Saffenburg, although a fiefdom of the Electorate of Cologne, remained loyal to the Emperor and the Empire and denied the French entry.
List helped the French
Only by a trick the French took possession of the castle. On 16 October 1702, at the time of the grape harvest, two French officers dressed as merchants mingled with a group of winegrowers who brought their grapes to the Saffenburg. Thus they entered the castle undisturbed, where only a small number of guards were present. They disarmed the gatekeepers, let a group of French soldiers waiting nearby into the castle and occupied it in a surprise coup. Soon after, the castle got a crew of 110-180 men.
In the winter of 1702/1703, Hanoverian regiments in the surrounding towns were in winter quarters. In January 1703, the Hanoverian commander-in-chief, Lieutenant General von Sommerfeld, made an attempt to take the castle. For a week his soldiers fired mortars and cannons at the castle, but the shells had no great effect on the strong walls. Finally he marched off again without having achieved anything, unaware that the French were about to surrender.
On 1 May 1703, Major General von Bülow made a second attempt. With his dragoon regiment and a few light guns he sealed off the Saffenburg from the outside world. After three weeks the French capitulated against free withdrawal and marched off to Luxembourg.
1704 the Saffenburg was "dragged"
While the allied army marched into Bavaria, it was to be feared that the French would again occupy the strategically well-situated Saffenburg. For this reason, Saffenburg was dragged from Jülich Fortress by a detachment of artillerymen on February 16, 1704. The stones were used by the winegrowers to build vineyard walls. In 1773 the ruins came into the possession of the Dukes of Arenberg, today often only the remains of the foundation walls are left.
In 2004 a fundamental restoration of the more and more decaying foundation walls began.
The winegrowers' cooperative Mayschoß-Altenahr opens the doors of the newly created multi-purpose building for all guests and hikers. You have the possibility to be served on one of the most beautiful viewpoints of the Ahr valley and to enjoy the unique view into the terraced vineyards of Mayschoß.