#158 Burg Pfalzgrafenstein
Rheinland-Pfalz, Bavaria, Germany
1327 and 1339-42 and later
This is NOT an official Lego site

Wasser Burg [Water Castle] Pfalzgrafenstein was originally conceived as a toll station on a tiny island called Falkenau in the middle of the upper Rhine River at Kaub, about halfway between Wiesbaden and Koblenz.  The original pentagonal tower was commissioned by King Ludwig [Louis] IV of Bavaria in 1327, the year he also became King of Italy (and the year before he became Holy Roman Emperor.)]  The first tower was about 40 feet [12 metres] tall.  In 1339 through 1342 Ludwig augmented the tower with a hexagonal defensive wall. Corner towers and a gabled roof to protect customs revenue were added in the 15th century, perhaps after the castle passed to Count Philipp of Katzenelnbogen in 1477. The lords of Katzenelnbogen became quite wealthy from the lucrative customs tariffs.  Ice flow damage in 1606/7 led to further additions, and the Baroque painting of the castle also occurred at this time.
The castle is located about 525 feet [160 M] from the west bank of the Rhine, but in pre-modern times a cataract just above the castle caused wild currents, making passage on that side of the river very precarious.  Thus ships were obligated to pass via the 360 foot wide [110 M] east channel, between Pfalzgrafenstein's guns mid-river, and the fortified town of Kaub at river's edge and mighty Burg Gutenfels high on the bank above.  At one point a chain across the river blocked the passage of uncooperative traders!  Two levels of gun ports were topped by a small arms gallery as gunpowder became the prevalent weapon. The old photo on the left shows Pfalzgrafenstein about 1900, paint completely worn off.
The castle's island was used in 1814 by Prussian Field Marshal Blücher as passage for his 60,000 troops in pursuit of Napoleon, and the castle continued to be a toll station until 1867, about one year after the castle was acquired by the Prussian government.  It was used as a signal station for another century, becoming the property of the State of Rheinland-Pfalz in 1946. The island is completed flooded during a typical spring thaw [lower right picture] and the island featured no trees in 1900 [mid-left picture], when the Baroque paint had completely worn off.  That paint job has been reproduced in recent years, to please the many tourists.  The "Baroque" roof on the tower was not added until 1714, bringing the donjon's height to almost 120 feet [36 M], but like the modern exterior paint, the roof is so uniquely beautiful that I will try to reproduce it for my model.

Restoration Drawing Plans of the Castle Restoration Drawing Restoration Drawing
Restoration Drawing Plans of the Castle Restoration Drawing


Photos of the Lego Model
Under construction in early March through May, 2017
Construction begins on March 4, with the basic
hexagon laid out on blue baseplates.
By the next day the general features of tiny
Falkenau Island are in place...
...with placement of the entrance
staircase critically important.
March 6 sees completion of the island, awash
and flooded with the Spring thaw each year.
The following day the preliminary gray outline is
gone, and we can see the beginnings of the real
fortress, the prow medium nougat (=dark flesh)
and the remaining base whitewashed.
March 8 is devoted to building the structural
framework upon which the courtyard and
donjon will rest...
The grid is 16 studs wide but just 6 deep, to
perfectly accommodate 6-wide light gray plates.
On March 19 the donjon's position has been
identified and the main support columns have
been laid out. But what Lego to use for the
pale rose-colored granite of The Pfalz?
Tan wins out over light gray, and the next several
days are spent building up the courtyard. Now we
wait for a large order of white arches from
Arches in hand, work resumes on March 21:
the ground floor gallery is almost ready
the cannon.
The donjon is a little taller and the entrance
passage flanked with deadly halberds!
Soon the gallery is roofed and the second
level of cannon ports is now outlined.
By the end of March, the second level is
mostly complete and the donjon is tall
enough for the addition of the bridge to
its only entrance (at level 3).
The castle entrance is
framed and the external
portcullis is place!
A temporary golden figure
highlights the massive
bartizan at the prow.

As the first week of April draws to a
close, the third story gallery with its
quartet of wooden bartizans is taking
The golden lion now
announces the toll castle
to harried shippers. See
the completed model below.


Photos of the Lego Model
Built March - May, 2017
Let's begin our tour with the
view from the NE - the view
from Kaub and most ship's

The view from the east
features a cog and a
carrack stopped to pay
their toll.
The prow is an
icebreaker for
winter ice floes.
The prow end of the
castle was roofed in the
late medieval period to
protect booty from weather.
The less seen view from
the SW has fewer cannon
bays due to the latrines.
The only two chimneys
at Pfalzgrafenstein are
on the west side, one
for the small kitchenette.
On the opposite end
of the castle is the
only entrance...
...which is at the top
of a solid wooden stair
due to Spring flooding.
The gate is protected
by an exterior portcullis.
The only other I know is
Kuressaare in Estonia.
Here is a nice view of the
trouble facing reluctant
sea merchants: myriad
gun and cannon ports!
Atop the icebreaker prow
is an intimidating bartizan
with three cannon ports...
...and a golden lion holding
the shield crest of the
Katzenelnbogen lords.
The roughly triangular
roof over the prow proved
one of the greatest
challenges of this build...
...incorporating 3
turrets, 14 windows
and a cupola.
Here is a picture of the
inner face of the prow
storage area.
Equally complex is the
northwest end of the
hexagonal castle, with 2
levels of cannon bays,...
...the balcony, the gallery
and entrance passage in
the north wall.
Here is a "ground"
level view of the
...which surrounds
the old tower.
This picture, and the
courtyard yard show
the single entrance
to the donjon...
...which has its own
pentagonal roof, also
sporting a cupola atop.
Rowboats paddle out to the
passing ships to collect
Here is a close-up of my
...and my cog, with angry
merchants and crews.


Build Your Own
Northeast Lego Elevation

Lego Elevation &
Ground floor Lego plan
1st Floor Lego Plan
2nd Floor Lego Plan
Turret Level Lego Plan
was never drawn

Other Wasser Burg Pfalzgrafenstein pages:

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Castles created by Robert Carney
Page designed & maintained by
Robert Carney