Skip to content Skip to navigation Skip to subnavigation Skip to search

All other countries:
International extranets in German

All other countries:
International press centers in German and English
Want to know more about Germany?
Dip into our inspiring E-book and get your first impressions about the sheer diversity of Germany as a travel destination. The E-book is available in 26 different languages. Click here

Further information:
You can find more information about Germany on our website at:, or on our local websites.


Pitch and sulphur, wall-scaling ladders and battering rams

The Middle Ages, the time of knights, was the golden age of castle construction. Thousands of these fortified structures emerged in all parts of the country in the typical defense style of architecture with outer walls and turrets which nowadays appear so romantic to us. In mountainous regions these are mostly vertical castle structures which command a view of the landscape from the mountain top. On the plains there are castles surrounded by water which can appear in the form of lakes, ponds, rivers or moats.

Conquering a castle was a difficult and time-consuming business. Normally it would first of all have to be besieged, in order to force out the castle folk through starvation. If the latter had stockpiled provisions in good time, the waiting time for the attacker could turn out to be very long indeed. They were then often only left with the choice of withdrawal or direct attack. Assailants applied numerous tactics and backup systems to overcome the fortifications. They tunneled under the outer walls, propped up the passageways with wooden stakes, then finally set fire to them. The stakes would break and the walls would collapse. A castle moat filled with water was a good means of preventing tunneling. Where castle moats had dried out, however, assailants sometimes built dams across, along which they could then push their siege tower and battering ram right up to the perimeter wall. Different kinds of catapults meant they were also able to sling shots the weight of a grand piano into the castle from a distance. Defenders on the other hand dropped stone blocks, unslaked lime, boiling pitch, boiling water or hot sand onto attackers.