“Die Burg Thurant ist ein weithin sichtbares Wahrzeichen über dem Ort Alken an der Mosel. Teils auf römischen Grundmauern errichtet, ist sie eine der ältesten Burgen des Mosellandes..”
The ruins of Thurant Castle (in German Burg Thurant) stand on a wide hill spur above the small villages of Alken on the Moselle in Germany. The castle is located in the county of Mayen-Koblenz. Count Palatine Henry I the Tall from the House of Welf probably had a fortification built on the present site between 1198 and 1206 in order to secure the claims of his brother, the Emperor Otto IV, in the Moselle region. According to tradition, he named the castle on the hill Toron Castle, like Tyros in present-day Lebanon, which he had besieged in vain during the Battle of Barbarossa during the Third Crusade. After Count Palatine Henry II the Younger died without male issue in 1214, and the Emperor Frederick II gave the castle and the village of Alken as an imperial fief together with the Palatinate to the House of Wittelsbach who were loyal to the Hohenstaufens, who were a dynasty of German kings (1138–1254) during the Middle Ages, and besides Germany, they also ruled the Kingdom of Sicily between 1194 and 1268. As a result of its location in the land around Trier, Thurant Castle was claimed by the archbishops of Cologne and Trier. In 1216 Engelbert I of Cologne succeeded in taking the castle by force. Although Pope Honorius III protested against this act, Engelbert retained possession of his prize until his death in November 1225, when the castle went back into the hands of the counts Palatine by Rhine. Following that, Duke Otto II of Bavaria appointed a knight, Berlewin, named Zurn, as the burgrave. Because Berlewin conducted himself as a robber baron and raided the Trier Land from his castle, Arnold II of Isenburg and Conrad of Hochstaden joined forces and besieged the castle in 1246 in the so-called Great Feud (Große Fehde). In 1248 the place was captured by them and, on 17 November that year, an expiatory treaty (Sühnevertrag) was signed that has survived to the present day and is thus one of the oldest German documents. In the treaty, Electoral Palatinate gives up possession of Thurant Castle and the associated estate of Alken in favour of the two archbishops. The archbishops divided the site into a Trier and a Cologne half which were separated by a wall and each managed by a burgrave appointed by their respective primates. Each half had a separate entrance, its own residential and domestic buildings and a bergfried, today called the Trier Tower (Trierer Turm) and Cologne Tower (Kölner Turm). In the 14th and 15th centuries, both parts of the castle were not only Afterlehen fiefs, but also mortgaged properties (Pfandobjekte). Among the noble families who occupied the castle from the early 14th century were the families of von Schöneck, von Winningen, von Eltz and von der Reck. From 1495 the lords of Wiltberg were one of the vassals. They used the castle, which was becoming a ruin as early as 1542, as a stone quarry, in order to build a country house in Alken, the Wiltberg’sche Schloss or Wiltburg. During the War of the Palatine Succession the castle suffered further destruction in 1689 at the hand of French troops and the castle finally became a ruin. Only the two bergfriede and a residential house from the 16th century were largely undamaged. Robert Allmers (1872–1951) from Varel, co-found of the Hansa Automobil company and, from 1914, Director of Bremen’s Hansa Lloyd factories, purchased the site in 1911 and had part of it rebuilt. Since 1973 it has been a joint private residence of the Allmers and Wulf families. The castle is still in private hands today, but it’s visitable. According to the Heritage Monument Conservation Act of Rhineland-Palatinate of Germany, it is a protected monument which is incorporated into the state monument list.