Montclair Castle

Montclair Castle

Montclair Castle, locally known as Burg Montclair, lies west of the village of Mettlach, in the Saarland region in Germany.

Montclair Castle is actually the 4th fortification built on this mountain spur inside a meander of the Saar river. The first one would have existed during Celtic/Roman times when a protective wall cut off access to the spur to make it serve as a refuge. The second one was a castle called 'Skiva' which existed from the 9th until the 11th century. Only the motte of the castle remains today, east of the present castle.

The third one was a castle called 'Montclair'. It was built in the late 12th century and largely destroyed in 1351. It subsequently fell to ruin but was one of the largest castles of the High Middle Ages in Germany. Nowadays only some very small wall fragments and foundations remain, west of the present castle. In 1370 the Montclair lands passed to the Lords of Sierck through marriage.

The official name of the present castle is 'Neu-Montclair' (New Montclair) and its predecessor is now known as 'Alt-Montclair' (Old Montclair). The present castle was built in the early 15th century by Arnold VI of Sierck, who also built Malbrouck Castle nearby during the same time period. He used Malbrouck as his seat, Montclair was cared for by a castellan. The castle, and the other Sierck possessions, passed to the Counts of Sayn through marriage in 1453.

Montclair was restored and enlarged between 1581 and 1583 by Heinrich IV von Sayn. He donated the castle to his niece Katharina Dorothea in 1601. Because she was married to Karl Ludwig I, Count of Sulz the castle passed into the hands of his family. But ownership of the castle was contested by the Archbishop-Elector of Trier who then had the castle occupied. The archbishopric however did a poor job of maintaining the castle and after 1620 it slowly fell to ruin until only the courtyard house and castle chapel were usable.

In 1661 Montclair Castle became part of France. Louis XIV of France then agreed with the Archbishop of Trier that the castle would not be rebuilt to prevent it from becoming a threat in case of war. The ruin deteriorated further and only the courtyard house was used as farm. Because of a division agreement, Montclair was transferred back to the Archbishopric of Trier in 1778 but the reconstruction ban was expressly confirmed. In 1786 the last building in use in the castle ruin burned down, it was now a total ruin.

In 1844 stones from the castle ruin were still being used for repair work in the Saar river bed. From 1855 on the castle ruins were consolidated and excavated. Eugen von Boch, a businessman and director of the Villeroy & Boch ceramic company acquired the castle.

The Nazis, in the 1930's, planned to turn Montclair Castle and the rest of the mountain spur into an Ordensburg; an educational castle of the NSDAP. This was however averted by the Boch family who did not want to sell the castle. At the end of WW II men of the Volkssturm, a Nazi militia, took up posts in the castle towers. This resulted in a bombardment by artillery of the US Army which further damaged the ruins.

The castle ruin was restored and opened for visits in the 1990's.

At present Montclair Castle can be visited for a fee. Sadly enough it was closed when I came by. It can only be reached by walking over a forest path for about 20 minutes.


Gallery

Montclair Castle

Montclair Castle

Montclair Castle, locally known as Burg Montclair, lies west of the village of Mettlach, in the Saarland region in Germany.

Montclair Castle is actually the 4th fortification built on this mountain spur inside a meander of the Saar river. The first one would have existed during Celtic/Roman times when a protective wall cut off access to the spur to make it serve as a refuge. The second one was a castle called 'Skiva' which existed from the 9th until the 11th century. Only the motte of the castle remains today, east of the present castle.

The third one was a castle called 'Montclair'. It was built in the late 12th century and largely destroyed in 1351. It subsequently fell to ruin but was one of the largest castles of the High Middle Ages in Germany. Nowadays only some very small wall fragments and foundations remain, west of the present castle. In 1370 the Montclair lands passed to the Lords of Sierck through marriage.

The official name of the present castle is 'Neu-Montclair' (New Montclair) and its predecessor is now known as 'Alt-Montclair' (Old Montclair). The present castle was built in the early 15th century by Arnold VI of Sierck, who also built Malbrouck Castle nearby during the same time period. He used Malbrouck as his seat, Montclair was cared for by a castellan. The castle, and the other Sierck possessions, passed to the Counts of Sayn through marriage in 1453.

Montclair was restored and enlarged between 1581 and 1583 by Heinrich IV von Sayn. He donated the castle to his niece Katharina Dorothea in 1601. Because she was married to Karl Ludwig I, Count of Sulz the castle passed into the hands of his family. But ownership of the castle was contested by the Archbishop-Elector of Trier who then had the castle occupied. The archbishopric however did a poor job of maintaining the castle and after 1620 it slowly fell to ruin until only the courtyard house and castle chapel were usable.

In 1661 Montclair Castle became part of France. Louis XIV of France then agreed with the Archbishop of Trier that the castle would not be rebuilt to prevent it from becoming a threat in case of war. The ruin deteriorated further and only the courtyard house was used as farm. Because of a division agreement, Montclair was transferred back to the Archbishopric of Trier in 1778 but the reconstruction ban was expressly confirmed. In 1786 the last building in use in the castle ruin burned down, it was now a total ruin.

In 1844 stones from the castle ruin were still being used for repair work in the Saar river bed. From 1855 on the castle ruins were consolidated and excavated. Eugen von Boch, a businessman and director of the Villeroy & Boch ceramic company acquired the castle.

The Nazis, in the 1930's, planned to turn Montclair Castle and the rest of the mountain spur into an Ordensburg; an educational castle of the NSDAP. This was however averted by the Boch family who did not want to sell the castle. At the end of WW II men of the Volkssturm, a Nazi militia, took up posts in the castle towers. This resulted in a bombardment by artillery of the US Army which further damaged the ruins.

The castle ruin was restored and opened for visits in the 1990's.

At present Montclair Castle can be visited for a fee. Sadly enough it was closed when I came by. It can only be reached by walking over a forest path for about 20 minutes.


Gallery