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Oberwesel, Germany

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein

Tiny castle in the middle of the Rhine made you pay to pass. 

On a tiny island just off the shore of the German town of Kaub sits Burg Pfalzgrafenstein, or, for easier typing, Pfalz Castle. Pfalz Castle is not very large; in fact, it is just about the same size of the island it sits atop. The central tower, or keep, was erected by King Ludwig of Bavaria in the late 1320s.

Though the castle was small, travelers did not want to ignore its presence. Indeed, they couldn’t if they tried. Attached from the castle to the land on each side of the tiny island was a large metal chain. Boaters were unable to sneak by without paying up; those who did not cooperate were thrown into the little castle’s dungeon.

Despite its tiny size, Pfalz Castle was not only strict in administration, but was, and still is, extremely durable in its construction. Unlike many other castles, Pfalz Castle was never conquered or destroyed, never fell to any war, and has never been harmed by mother nature.

Tolls ceased to be collected in 1867 and in 1946, the castle was put under state control. The state turned the tiny island and castle into a museum for the enjoyment of locals and tourists. Today, visitors can hop onto a ferry for a short ride to the fearsome Burg Pfalzgrafenstein.

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