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Coat of arms

Coordinates: 49°48′14″N 7°32′28″E / 49.80389°N 7.54111°E / 49.80389; 7.54111Coordinates: 49°48′14″N 7°32′28″E / 49.80389°N 7.54111°E / 49.80389; 7.54111

Country Germany
State Rhineland-Palatinate
Municipal assoc.
 • Mayor Paul-Walter Bock
 • Total 0.39 km2 (0.15 sq mi)
Elevation 190 m (620 ft)
Population (2012-12-31)[1]
 • Total 304
 • Density 780/km2 (2,000/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 55627
Dialling codes 06754
Vehicle registration KH

Martinstein is an Ortsgemeinde - a member of the Verbandsgemeinde [United Municipalities of] Bad Sobernheim - in the district of Bad Kreuznach in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, in southwestern Germany. Martinstein is a nationally recognized place of tourism and, with only 96.37 acres (39 hectares), the smallest of the municipalities of Germany.[2]


Martinstein is located on the left side of the Nahe River and the beginning of the nationally known Naheweinstraße [Nahe Wine Route]. The Hunsrück mountains rise in the north, in the south are the North Palatine Uplands (Nordpfälzer Bergland). In the west are Simmertal and Hochstetten-Dhaun, in the east Weiler bei Monzingen and Merxheim.

Panorama of Martinstein


Martinstein was settled in the High Middle Ages in the vast area of Simmern unter Dhaun (today Simmertal). Its location, an old river crossing in a narrow gap of the Nahe Valley, was chosen in 1340 by the Archbishops of Mainz and Trier, Henry III von Virneburg from Mainz and Baldwin of Luxembourg, respectively, to build a castle above the settlement so that they would be able to keep their enemies, the Wildgrafen [Counts of the Wilderness] of Dhaun out of the Nahe Valley. The castle was dedicated and christened as Martinstein in honor of its patron saint, St. Martin of Tours. Two years later, in 1342, the settlement was raised to the rank of village. A few years later, it united with Seesbach and Weiler bei Monzingen to form their own administrative district. In 1518, Martinstein got its own district.

In 1359, the Archbishop of Mainz, Gerlach von Nassau, pledged the new district to the Ritter [Knight] von Grasewege, who lived in Sobernheim, for 1,800 guilders to develop the area. But, by 1347, the Grafen [Counts] von Sponheim were already holders of the mortgage; they were followed in 1389 by the Rittern von Merxheim and, later, other Herren. It belonged in the Middle Ages to the Archidiakonat (Archdeaconry) of the Mainz Cathedral Chapter and therein to the Archpresbytery of Glan, but it was assigned in 1560 to the Landkapitel [Archdeaconry] of Glan, as well as Simmern. Although the Lutheran Confession was introduced in 1550 by the then-owner, there was already in 1660 a new Catholic parish. In 1555 large parts of the town belonged to the Rittern von Hunolstein and Sickingen, 1660 to the von Leyen and von Ebersberg families, called Weyers-Leyen.

The mortgage ended in 1655, when the Archbishop Johann Philipp of Mainz transferred the rights of sovereignty to his family, the House of the Herren von Schönborn. The new owners built a small castle to replace the old, dilapidated castle and the new castle stood until 1780, when it had to be demolished. In 1620 it was conquered by the Spaniards, whose General Spinola mentioned and depicted the house for his military dispatches. The Margraves of Baden bought the rights of sovereignty of Martinstein from the Rittern von Schönborn in 1716 and also from the von Ebersbergs in 1779 and put all of them in the Badener district of Naumberg.

But Napoleon and his Grande Armée, with the conquest of the Rhineland, dissolved all those princely and ecclesiastical estates and created an entirely new administrative organization out of them. Martinstein became French, as a part of the new Mairie [French, “mayoralty”] of Monzingen in the Département de la Saar. When Napoleon met his Waterloo, the Mairie turned into the Bürgermeisterei for Prussia but it stayed in Monzingen for the Rheinprovinz [Province of the Rhineland]. In 1918, it became German.

In 1850 a stone bridge was built over the Nahe River. Around 1953, the Bundesstraße 41, which ran through the village, had to be widened, so several old houses disappeared, completely changing the local scenery. Until 1966, parts of the village of Martinstein were in the districts of Simmern unter Dhaun, Weiler and Merxheim. Since the change of the municipal boundaries, all the parts have been in the same municipality of Martinstein. Since the administrative reforms of 1970, Martinstein is located in the Verbandsgemeinde of Bad Sobernheim.


The growth of the population of Martinstein, between 1871 and 1987, according to the numbers from the local, state and national censuses:[3]

Year Residents
1815 132
1835 202
1871 188
1905 194
1939 295
Year Residents
1950 345
1961 367
1970 368
1987 351
2005 341


The blazon of the arms reads: “On the silver top, the shield, where a blue [bladed] sword, [whose golden handle is] cut in four parts, in the red bottom a blue globus cruciger (Latin, “cross-bearing orb’), gold-edged with a golden cross pattée.”

The colors, red and silver, are also the colors of the Archbishop-Electors of Mainz and Trier, who built the castle that gave Martinstein its name. The sword is attributed to St. Martin of Tours, the patron saint and namesake of the village. Its handle's grip symbolizes the castle and the grip's four sections refer to the village's four original districts, which were united in 1967 to form the Ortsgemeinde. The globus cruciger (Reichsapfel, literally “Imperial Apple”) is the reminder of the days of the Holy Roman Empire, when the Reichsrittern [Imperial Knights] were the rulers of the Herrschaft [dominion] of Martinstein.


The Municipal Council of Martinstein consists of 8 councilors. They were chosen in the municipal elections of 7 June 2009, according to the simple majority method, with the honorary mayor as the chairman.[4]

Heritage Places

The following historic and cultural places of the Ortsgemeinde Martinstein are on the Register of Heritage Places of the State of Rheinland-Palatinate (as of 13 January 2013):[5]

  • Hauptstraße 9: St. Martin Catholic Church; choir in the Gothic style, 14th Century, Baroque nave, mentioned 1729; tombstones in the walled cemetery, circa 1765, baroque priest’s tombstone; base of a Late Baroque crucifix
  • Hauptstraße 40: former school; two-wing building with hipped roofs, partly ornamental timber frame in the home style, mentioned 1903

Economy and Transportation

The Bundesstraße 41 runs directly through Martinstein. In Martinstein has a stop (a former train station) on the local line of the Nahe Valley Railway, the BingenSaarbrücken Line.

Martinstein features a hotel, a restaurant and a bowling alley. There are in the town also an ice cream shop, a bakery, a hardware store, a tile-making shop and a graphics business.


This article incorporates information from the Deutsch World Heritage Encyclopedia.

External Links

  • (German) [United Municipalities of] Bad Sobernheim for Martinstein
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