|Castles and Medieval Fortresses (Germany)
German Medieval Castles and Fortresses
Current to 24 Sep 2020.
My version of Albrecht Durer's Medieval German Knight with a castle (also known as a Schloss, Berg or Festung).
Oil on canvas, 16 X 20.
My father served with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) at 3 (F) Wing, Zweibrücken, Germany, (1959-1963),
and often took our family castle hunting throughout our time in Europe. This generated a huge interest for me in
exploring and examining these historic time capsules. After I joined the Army, I too had the extraordinary privilege
of serving with Head Quarters Canadian Forces Europe (HQ CFE) based at CFB Lahr, from 1981 to 1983, and with
4 CMBG also based at CFB Lahr, from 1989 to 1992. I have explored, photographed, painted pictures and
documented castles from one end of Europe to the other, and you will find other pages describing some of them
on this website. This page is specifically dedicated to medieval castles and some of their history as a supplement
to the other pages on castles near Zweibrücken, Baden-Soellingen, and Lahr on this web site. I hope you find them
Canadian Forces Europe (CFE) consisted of two formations in what was known as West Germany before the Berlin
Wall fell in November 1990. These formations included Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Lahr with 4 Canadian
Mechanized Brigade Group (4 CMBG) (1957-1993), and No. 1 Canadian Air Division (1 CAD), RCAF, at CFB
Base Baden-Soellingen and CFB Base Lahr, which later became No. 1 Canadian Air Group (1 CAG). Both
formations were closed in 1993 with the end of the Cold War. Many Canadian families took the opportunity to
explore and tour the countryside surrounding these communities, and some of these castles may be very familiar to you.
The 12th century castle near Lahr named Hohengeroldseck, and a secondary castle overlooking it, Schloss
Lutzelhardt near Seelbach were two that most would have visited. There are many more and the aim of this page
is to tell you a bit some of them that stand further afield.
Burgruine Hohengeroldseck, Seelbach. The castle, of which the approximately 10 m high outer walls (lower castle)
and the main building (upper castle) have been preserved, was built around 1260 as the family seat of the Lords of
Geroldseck. After an eventful history, it was destroyed by French soldiers in 1688.
(Lahr Historical Society Photo)
Burg Hohengeroldseck as it appeared before its destruction in the 1689. The castle was built ca 1270 on the Seelbacher
Schönberg mountain between Schutter and Kinzigtal in the Ortenau, not far from Offenburg and Lahr. At that time, it
served as the family seat of the Lords of Geroldseck, initially under Walther I von Geroldseck. (Hohengeroldseck was
a state of the Holy Roman Empire).
Profile of Hohengeroldseck before its destruction.
The Geroldseck family had initially built a small castle, first mentioned in 1139, on the edge of the Gengenbach
monastery area (called Rauhkasten, and later Alt-Geroldseck). The family prospered in the 13th century and chose
a more suitable location to build a more impressive fortification, c1250/60. c1260, they supported the Bishop of
Strasbourg, who shortly afterwards was overthrown by the Strasbourg citizens in a battle in 1262 and died shortly
afterwards. Ownership of the castle began to divide in 1277, through inheritances, and again in 1301 and in 1370.
Claims on the castle were made by the Counts of Moers-Saar Werden, resulting in the Geroldsecker War of 1433
in which they were unsuccessful. In 1434 and 1470 the ownership of the castle was further partitioned. c1473/1474,
the city of Strasbourg besieged the castle without success. In the power struggle between the Habsburgs and the
Electoral Palatinate, the castle was again besieged, captured and occupied until 1504, by Count Palatine Philipp.
The castle was administered by the Margraves of Baden until c1534, when the Geroldsecker family was again
permitted to inhabit the castle. When Dautenstein Castle was converted into a Renaissance castle in 1599, the
Geroldsecker family moved there. When the Geroldsecker family died out in 1634, the castle came into the
possession of the Counts of Cronberg (Taunus). In the Palatinate War of Succession, the castle was set on fire
when the French left in 1689. A planned expansion to the fortress did not take place in the following period,
with the exception of a few earthworks. In 1692, the ruins were awarded to the Barons von der Leyen.
The earliest contruction work done on Geroldseck Castle took place in the 13th century. The castle was built
with two strong residential buildings in the form of a large double palace. Much of the building is Gothic in form,
including windows and door walls, dating some of the work to the 14th century. Few of the original 13th century
works have survived, and those are mainly in the lower parts of the building. In 1390 the complex was destroyed
by lightning. No reliable information is available about the extent of the restoration after the castle was partly
destroyed again in 1486. Hohengeroldseck was destroyed for the final time by the French in 1689 and has been in
ruins ever since. From 1883 repair work has been carried out on the castle ruins. At the beginning of the 1950s,
a new spiral staircase was installed in the tower of the rear hall. Since 1958, the castle has been maintained by an
association based in Seelbach.
Access to the castle is gained through a Renaissance era or early Baroque gate to a bastion, then through the late
medieval (heavily restored) main gate and then by an older gate into the lower courtyard. The lower castle
extends as a wide court around the oval core castle, which is raised on a porphyry rock. A defendable well
house with its outer walls seems to date from the 14th century. The well shaft is estimated to be 65 m deep, but
is partially filled at present. The remains of a building with a stair tower belong to the 16th century, as do the
remains of a building in the southeast corner of the lower castle. An older cistern there was vaulted. An exposed,
lower-lying forge with a sandstone trough dates from the time before the partial destruction in 1486. There are
additional traces of the wall in the ground above the gate chamber.
One of the two palas buildings in the main castle is in good condition, the other is only preserved in sparse, heavily
restored remains. Inside, on the high mantle wall between the two palace buildings, there was a low kitchen,
flanked by two round stair towers that opened up the palace buildings. In addition to the stair tower, which has
been preserved up to the eaves of the stone roof, the well-preserved palace building also shows many structural
details such as rectangular windows, pointed arched windows, chimneys, a possible toilet niche and the remains
of a stair gable. The main building of the palace is believed to have taken place in the 14th century. The remains
of the initial 13th century castle are few, although elements can be seen in the lower masonry.
(Hugo Schneider Map)
Hohengeroldseck Schlossberg, Seelbach, Germany, ground plan.
(Bully's from Hohengeroldseck Photo)
Aerial view of Hohengeroldseck.
For those Canadian families who lived near 4 (F) Wing Baden-Soellingen, No. 1 Canadian Air Division (1 CAD),
RCAF, later No. 1 Canadian Air Group (1 CAG), there are many castles close to the what was CFB Baden-Soellingen before it closed in 1993. Burg Hohenbaden would be one of them most would be familiar with.
Burg Hohenbaden, aka Alten Schloß Baden-Baden, was the seat of the Margraves of Baden in the Middle Ages.
They named themselves after the castle, which gave the state of Baden its name. The castle was built as the first
dominion center of the Margraves of Limburg after the relocation of their rule to the Upper Rhine on the western
slope of the rocky mountain Battert above what was then called Baden. The construction of the upper castle, the
so-called Hermannsbaus, by Margrave Hermann II (1074–1130) is assumed to have started around 1100. From
1112 the Margraves of Baden named themselves after the castle. Under Margrave Bernhard I of Baden (1372–1431)
the Gothic lower castle was built, which was expanded by Margrave Jakob I (1431–1453) to become the representative
center of the margravate.
The most important component is the Bernhard Building (around 1400), whose column on the ground floor with a
coat of arms carried by angels once supported the mighty vault. In its heyday, the castle had 100 rooms. In the
same century, Margrave Christoph I expanded the New Castle, which was begun in 1370, in the city of Baden and
moved the residence there in 1479. The old castle then served as a widow's residence, but in 1599 it was destroyed
by fire. The ruins were not structurally secured until after 1830. It was later looked after by the State Palaces and
Gardens of Baden-Württemberg.
The old castle has belonged to Wolfgang Scheidtweiler since 2017. From its tower you have a good panoramic
view of Baden-Baden and a distant view of the Rhine plain and the Vosges. The castle courtyard of the ruin is
also worth seeing. The castle and tower can be visited free of charge. There is a restaurant in the castle. The castle
is a popular starting point for hikes on the Battert with its scenic, protected climbing rocks and a protected forest.
A large wind harp stands in the ruins of the great hall of the old castle.
The harp, which was set up in 1999, has a total height of 4.10 meters and 120 strings, it was developed and built
by the local musician and harp maker Rüdiger Oppermann, who called it the largest wind harp in Europe. The nylon
strings are stimulated by the draft to produce the basic notes C and G. From 1851 to 1920 there was a small wind
harp in the knight's hall of the old castle. (Baden-Württemberg I. Die Regierungsbezirke Stuttgart und Karlsruhe.
Ground plan of Burg Hohenbaden.
Burg Hohenbaden in the 15th century, illustration by Wolfgan Braun.
Aerial view of Burg Hohenbaden.
(Martin Dürrschnabel Photo)
Burgen and Schlosser
There are more than 25,000 documented castles and palaces (Burgen and Schlosser) in Germany. This page focuses
on the medieval castles with a few photos and some of the documentation describing their history. More detailed
information can be found on Wikipedia. If I missed any that you think should be included, please let me know.
Burghausen Castle, seen from the Austrian side of the River Salzach. Between 1392 and 1503, the fortifications
were extended around the entire castle hill. When the work was completed, Burghausen Castle became the strongest
fortress of the region. Burghausen Castle in Burghausen, Upper Bavaria, Germany, is the longest castle complex in
the world (1.051 km).
The castle hill was settled as early as the Bronze Age. The castle (which was founded before 1025) was transferred
to the Wittelsbach family after the death of the last count of Burghausen, Gebhard II, in 1168. In 1180 they were
appointed dukes of Bavaria and the castle was extended under Duke Otto I of Wittelsbach. With the first partition
of Bavaria in 1255, Burghausen Castle became the second residence of the dukes of Lower Bavaria, the main
residence being Landshut. The work on the main castle commenced in 1255 under Duke Henry XIII (1253–1290).
In 1331 Burghausen and its castle passed to Otto IV, Duke of Lower Bavaria.
Under the dukes of Bavaria-landshut (1392-1503), the fortifications were extended around the entire castle hill.
Beginning with Margarete of Austria, the deported wife of the despotic Duke Henry XVI (1393–1450), the castle
became the residence of the Duke's consorts and widows, and also a stronghold for the ducal treasures. In 1447
Louis VI, Duke of Bavaria, died in the castle as Henry's prisoner. Under Duke Georg of Bavaria (1479–1503) the
work was completed and Burghausen Castle became the strongest fortress of the region.
After the reunification of Bavaria in 1505 with the Landshut War of Succession, the castle had military importance,
and due to the threat of the Ottoman Empire, it was subsequently modernised. During the Thirty Years; War, Gustav
Horn was kept imprisoned in the castle from 1634 to 1641. After the Treaty of Teschen in 1779, Burghausen
Castle became a border castle. During the Napoleonic Wars the castle suffered some destruction. The 'Liebenwein
tower' was occupied by the painter Maximilian Liebenwein from 1899 until his death. He decorated the interior in
the Art Nouveau style.
The Gothic castle comprises the main castle with the inner courtyard and five outer courtyards. The outermost
point of the main castle is the Palas with the ducal private rooms. Today it houses the castle museum, including
late Gothic paintings of the Bavarian State Picture Collection. On the town side of the main castle next to the
donjon are the gothic inner Chapel of St. Elizabeth (1255) and the Dürnitz (knights' hall) with its two vaulted halls.
Opposite the Dürnitz are the wings of the Duchess' residence.
The first outer courtyard protected the main castle and also included the stables, the brewery and the bakery. The
second courtyard houses the large Arsenal building (1420) and the gunsmith's tower. This yard is protected by the
dominant Saint George's Gate (1494). The Grain Tower and the Grain Measure Tower were used for stabling and
to store animal food; they belong to the third courtyard. The main sight of the fourth courtyard is the late Gothic
outer Chapel of St. Hedwig (1479–1489). The court officials and craftsmen worked and lived in the fifth courtyard,
which was once protected by a strong fortification. In 1800 this fortification was destroyed by the French under
Michel Ney. The Pulverturm ("Powder Tower", constructed before 1533) protected the castle in the western valley
next to the Wöhrsee lake, an old backwater of the river. A battlement connects this tower with the main castle.
(Alexander D. Photo)
Berghausen Castle, panoramic view.
(Werner Hölzl Photo)
Berghausen Castle, night view.
(Christian Michelides Photo)
Burghausen Castle at night.
(Jürgen Regel Photo)
The Imperial Palace at Gelnhausen, (Kaiserpfalz Gelnhausen, Pfalz Gelnhausen or Barbarossaburg), is
located on the Kinzig river, in the town of Gelnhausen, Hesse. It was founded in 1170, and like the town whose
creation was closely linked to the palace, goes back to Emperor Frederick I (Barbarossa). The palace enabled the
expansion of imperial territory along an important long-distance highway, the Via Regia.
Construction of the palace likely took place a few years before the official founding of the royal town in 1170.
There may have been an earlier castle on the site that belonged to the Counts of Selbold-Gelnhausen. The
construction of the palace was probably managed by the Counts of Büdingen, who erected the castle of Büdingen
as their own residence nearby.
In 1180, the imperial palace at Gelnhausen was the venue for the great imperial court or Hoftag of Gelnhausen, at
which Henry the Lion was put on trial in his absence and his imperial fiefs redistributed. In the years that followed,
further imperial courts were convened at Gelnhausen. The now ruined palas may have been built for use as an
assembly hall. Evidence of a large number of different stonemasons engaged in the construction suggests a
relatively large number of labourers working on the building site at the same time and thus a rapid pace of construction.
During the Hohenstaufen era, the palace was an Imperial Castle (Reichsburg), had a burgrave and Burgmannen.
Its estate included Büdingen Forest, which the castle's occupants still retained timber rights (for construction and
firewood) until the 19th century. The decline of the palace began as early as the 14th century when, in 1349, Emperor
Charles IV (HRR) enfeoffed it, together with the town, to the Counts of Schwarzburg and never reclaimed it. In
1431, the Count of Hanau and Count Palatine Louis III procured the palace and town from Count Henry of
Schwarzburg. At the end of the 16th century, the Counts of Isenburg in Birstein took over the burgrave's office,
but did not reside at the castle. During the Thirty Years' War, the town and palace were severely damaged and
Imperial and Swedish troops razed down its main building.
After the extinction of the House of Hanau in 1736, Gelnhausen fell to the Landgraves of Hesse-Kassel. The
palace was then used as a quarry until 1811. The castle chapel had to be partly demolished due to its dilapidated
condition. Around 1810, the palace became one of the first buildings from the epoch of Romanesque architecture
in Germany that attracted the interest of art-loving scholars.
At the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century, the first safety measures were carried out to preserve
the remains of the palace for posterity. Likewise, it was not until the end of the 19th century that the previously
independent municipality of Burg was dissolved and integrated into the town of Gelnhausen. Today, the palace
belongs to the state of Hesse and is managed by the Administration of State Castles and Gardens for Hesse.
Along with its attached castle museum, it is open to the public. (Waltraud Friedrich: Kulturdenkmäler in Hessen.
Main-Kinzig-Kreis II.2. Gelnhausen, Gründau, Hasselroth, Jossgrund, Linsengericht, Wächtersbach. Published
by the Landesamt für Denkmalpflege Hessen, Theiss, Wiesbaden/ Stuttgart, 2011)
Kaiserpfalz Gelnhausen reconstruction.
(Tobias Helfrich Photo)
The Imperial Palace Goslar (Kaiserpfalz Goslar) stands in the historic town of Goslar in Lower Saxony. It is
the administrative centre of the district of Goslar and is located on the northwestern slopes of the Harz mountain
range. Iron ore has been common in the Harz region since Roman times; the earliest known evidences for quarying
and smelting date back to the 3rd century AD. The settlement on the Gose creek was first mentioned in a 979 deed
issued by Emperor Otto II. It was located in the Saxon homelands of the Ottonian dynasty and a royal palace (Königspfalz)
may already have existed at the site. It became even more important when extensive silver deposits were discovered
at the nearby Rammelsberg, today a mining museum.
When Otto's descendant Henry II began to convene Imperial synods at the Goslar palace from 1009 onwards, Goslar
gradually replaced the Royal palace of Werla as a central place of assembly in the Saxon lands. This development
was enforced by the Salian (Franconian) emperors. Conrad II, after his election as King of the Romans, celebrated
Christmas 1024 in Goslar and had the foundations laid for the new Imperial Palace (Kaiserpfalz Goslar) the next year.
Goslar became the favourite residence of Conrad's son Henry III who stayed at the palace about twenty times. Here
he received King Peter of Hungary, as well as the emissaries of Prince Yaroslav of Kiev, and here he appointed
bishops and dukes. His son and successor Henry IV was born here on 11 November 1050. Henry also had Goslar
Cathedral built and consecrated by Archbishop Herman of Cologne in 1051. Shortly before his death in 1056, Emperor
Henry III met with Pope Victor II in the church, emphasizing the union of secular and ecclesiastical power. His heart
was buried in Goslar, his body in the Salian family vault in Speyer Cathedral. Only the northern porch of the cathedral
has survived, as the main building was torn down in the early 19th century.
Under Henry IV, Goslar remained a centre of Imperial rule; however, conflicts intensified such as in the violent
Precedence Dispute at Pentecost 1063. While Henry aimed to secure the enormous wealth deriving from the
Rammlesberg silver mines as a royal demesne, the dissatisfaction of local nobles escalated with the Saxon Rebellion
in 1073–75. In the subsequent Great Saxon Revolt, the Goslar citizens sided with anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden,
who held a princely assembly there in 1077, and with Hermann of Salm, who was crowned king in Goslar by
Archbishop Siegfried of Mainz on 26 December 1081. This brought Goslar the status of an Imperial City.
In the Spring of 1105, Henry V convened the Saxon estates at Goslar, to gain support for the deposition of his father
Henry IV. Elected king in the following year, he held six Imperial Diets at the Goslar Palace during his rule. The
tradition was adopted by his successor Lothair II and by the Hohenstaufen rulers, Conrad III and Frederick Barbarossa.
After his election in 1152, King Frederick appointed the Welf duke Henry the Lion Imperial as the Vogt (bailiff) of
the Goslar mines. In spite of this appointment, the dissatisfied duke besieged the town. A a meeting in Chiavenna
in 1173, the duke demanded his enfeoffment with the estates in turn for his support on Barbarossa's Italian campaigns.
When Henry the Lion was finally declared deposed in 1180, he had the Rammelsberg mines destroyed.
Goslar's importance as an Imperial residence began to decline under the rule of Barbarossa's descendants. During
the German throne dispute, the Welf king Otto IV laid siege to the town in 1198, but had to yield to the forces of his
Hohenstaufen rival Philip of Swabia. Goslar was again stormed and plundered by Otto's troops in 1206. Frederick II
held the last Imperial Diet here; with the Great Interregnum upon his death in 1250, Goslar's Imperial era ended.
When the Emperors withdrew from Northern Germany, civil liberties in Goslar were strengthened. Market rights
date back to 1025. A municipal council (Rat) was first mentioned in 1219. The citizens strived for control of the
Rammelsberg silver mines and in 1267 joined the Hanseatic League. In addition to mining in the Upper Harz region,
commerce and trade in Gose beer, later also slate and vitriol, became important. By 1290 the council had obtained
Vogt rights, confirming Goslar's status as a free imperial city. In 1340 its citizens were vested with Heeschild rights
by Emperor Louis the Bavarian. The Goslar town law set an example for numerous other municipalities, like the
Goslar mining law codified in 1359.
Early modern times saw both a mining boom and rising conflicts with the Welf Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg,
mainly with Prince Henry V of Wolfenbüttel, who seized the Rammelsberg mines and extended Harz forests in 1527.
Though a complaint was successfully lodged with the Reichskammergericht by the citizens of Goslar, a subsequent
gruelling feud with the duke lasted for decades. Goslar was temporarily placed under Imperial ban, while the
Protestant Reformation was introduced in the city by theologian Nicolaus von Amsdorf, who issued a first church
constitution in 1531. To assert independence, in 1536 the citizens joined the Schmalkaldic League against the
Catholic policies of the Habsburg emperor Charles V. The Schmalkaldic forces occupied the Wolfenbüttel lands of
Henry V, but after they were defeated by Imperial forces in 1547 at the Batle of Mühlberg, the Welf duke continued his reprisals.
In 1577 the Goslar citizens signed the Lutheran Formula of Concord. After years of continued skirmishes, they
finally had to grant Duke Henry and his son Julius extensive mining rights which ultimately edged out the city
council. Nevertheless, several attempts by the Brunswick dukes to incorporate the Imperial city were rejected.
Goslar and its economy was hit hard by the Thirty Years' War, mainly by the Kipper und Wipper financial crisis
in the 1620s which led to several revolts and pogroms. Facing renewed aggression by Duke Christian the Younger
of Brunswick, the citizens sought support from the Imperial military leaders Tilly and Wallenstein. The city was
occupied by the Swedish forces of King Gustavus Adolphus from 1632 to 1635. In 1642 a peace agreement was
reached between Emperor Ferdinand III and the Brunswick duke Augustus the Younger. The hopes of the Goslar
citizens to regain the Rammelsberg mines were not fulfilled.
Goslar remained loyal to the Imperial authority, solemnly celebrating each accession of a Holy Roman Emperor.
While strongly referring to its great medieval traditions, the city continuously decreased in importance and got
into rising indebtedness. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stayed at Goslar in 1777.
First administrative reforms were enacted by councillors of the Siemens family. In spite of this, the status of
Imperial immediacy was finally lost, when Goslar was annexed by Prussian forces during the Napoleonic Wars
in 1802, and confirmed by the German Mediatisation the next year. Under Prussian rule, further reforms were
pushed ahead by councillor Christian Wilhelm von Dohn. Goslar was temporarily part of the Kingdom of
Westphalia upon the Prussian defeat at the 1806 Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. Goslar finally was assigned to the newly
established Kingdom of Hanover by resolution of the Vienna Congress. The cathedral was sold and torn down
between 1820 and 1822. Goslar again came under Prussian rule after the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. It became
a popular retirement residence (Pensionopolis) and a garrison town of the Prussian Army. The Hohenzollern kings
and emperors had the Imperial Palace restored, including the mural paintings by Hermann Wislicenus.
After the Nazis came to power in 1933, Reich Minister Richard Walther Darré made Goslar the seat of the
agricultural Reichsnährstand corporation. In 1936, the city obtained the title of Reichsbauernstadt. In the course
of Germany's rearmament, a Luftwaffe airbase was built north of the town and several war supplier companies
were located in the vicinity, including subcamps of the Buchenwald and Neuengamme concentration camps.
Nevertheless, the historic town escaped strategic bombing during the Second World War.
Goslar was part of the British occupation zone from 1945, and the site of a displaced persons camp. During the
Cold War era, because the city stood near the inner German border, it was a major garrison town for the West
German army army, border police and French Forces in Germany. After the fall of the Berlin wall, the barracks
were vacated and a major economic factor was lost. The Rammelberg mines were finally closed in 1988, after a
millennial history of mining. (Wikipedia)
The wide gates of Goslar.
Goslar, Lower Saxony, Artillery tower "Zwinger", built in 1517. The walls are up to 6,5 meters thick. On the right
is an earthen rampart which surrounded the older stone wall as protection against gun fire.
(Oliver Abels Photo)
Greifenstein Castle (Burg Greifenstein) lies in the village of Greifenstein in the county of Lah-Dill-Kries in Middle
Hesse. The castle stands on a hill in the Dill Westerwald and commands a good view over the Dill valley. At 441 m
(1,447 ft) above sea level, it is the highest castle in the county of Lahn-Dill and a very visible landmark.
The hill castle was first recorded in 1160. In 1298 it was destroyed by the counts of Nassau and Solms, along with
Lichtenstein, which was not rebuilt. In 1315 it was enfeoffed by the House of Habsburg (Albert I had purchased the
castle from Kraft of Greifenstein) to the Counts of Nassau. After having several owners, it had deteriorated by 1676.
It was then converted into a Baroque schloss by William Maurice of Solms-Greifenstein. After the counts moved
to Braunfels in 1693, the site fell into ruins.
In 1969 the castle ruins were gifted to the Greifenstein Society, who have since looked after the preservation of the
site, which is open to the public and incorporates a restaurant. Since 1995, its restoration has also been supported
by the Federal Republic of Germany, because it has been classified as a Monument of National Significances
(Denkmal von nationaler Bedeutung).
The circular walk across the castle terrain leads to a gaol with torture implements, weapons and a wine cellar, living
rooms and a twin-towered bergfried accessible via a spiral staircase. On the pointed roof of the Brother Tower
(Bruderturm) there is a gryphon (Greif, a reference to the name of the castle), which serves as a weather vane.
There is a peal of three bells in the tower, with strike tones of F#1, A1 and C2.
Attractions include the Village and Castle Museum (Dorf- und Burgmuseum), one of the few double chapels in
Germany. The Chapel of St. Catherine was built in 1462 as a fortified church in the Gothic style. When the castle
was converted into the Baroque style the castle courtyard was filled with earth with the result that, today, the chapel
is below ground level. It contains frescoes and arrow slits, as well as casemates with vaulted ceilings and fighting
rooms. The Baroque church built above the fortified chapel from 1687 to 1702 is richly decorated with stucco and
is of the Italian Early Baroque period. The upper and lower churches are linked by a staircase. Walks around the
castle and an educational herb garden make the site a popular destination. (Rudolf Knappe: Mittelalterliche Burgen
in Hessen: 800 Burgen, Burgruinen und Burgstätten. 3rd edn., Wartberg-Verlag, Gudensberg-Gleichen, 2000)
Burg Greifenstein, Matthäus Merian, 1655.
(Michael J. Zirbes Photo)
Aerial view of Burg Greifenstein.
(peter schmelzle Photo)
Guttenberg Castle (Burg Guttenberg) is a late medieval hilltop castle on the Neckarmühlbach, a district of
Haßmersheim in Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis in Baden-Württemberg. The castle was never destroyed and has been
continuously inhabited for almost 800 years, from the Gemmingen-Guttenberg line of the Barons of Gemmingen
since the middle of the 15th century. The facility houses the Greifenwarte as well as a castle museum and a restaurant. Guttenberg Castle is located near Horneck am Necker, across from Gundelsheim with Horneck Castle
and is north of Bad Wimpfen on a mountain spur between the Neckar and Mühlbachtal valleys.
On 1 May 1393, Archbishop Konrad II of Mainz donated a new chapel in Mühlbach, prope castrum nominatum
Gutenberg, near Guttenberg Castle. This was the first mention of the castle, which dates from the first half of the
13th century. It belonged to the Lords of Weinsberg as a fief of the bishops of Worms. The von Weinsbergs may
have built the castle on behalf of their liege lord. The Bishop of Worms was concerned with securing customs
revenue on the long-distance routes in his territory.
In a document dated 2 December 1449, the Bishop of Würzburg confirmed that he was the guardian of the sons of
the deceased Imperial Treasurer Konrad IX. von Weinsberg sold Guttenberg Castle, along with the associated
villages on the Neckar river, including all rights, uses and affiliations for 6000 Rhenish guilders to Hans Rich von
Gemmingen. With this purchase, Hans the Rich, became the founder of the Gemmingen-Guttenberg line, which
still owns the castle today. With the partition agreement of 1 February 1518, Hans' grandson Dietrich von Gemmingen inherited the new headquarters of the family. Under him, the castle played a role in the Reformation
period, including a providing a place for a religious conference in the Eucharistic controversy of the reformers.
There is no evidence of a siege in the Middle Ages, and the castle was not damaged in the German Peasants' War.
During the Thirty Years' War, the Catholic troops under Lieutenant General Johann T'Serclais vaon Tilly defeated
the Protestant army under the Margrave of baden in May 1622, in the costly Battle of Wimpfen (1,500 to 2,000 dead
on each side). In the Palatinate War of Succession, King Louis XIV of France systematically devastated the Electoral
Palatinate and the adjacent areas in 1689. Although troops always marched through the region, Guttenberg Castle
was spared in all wars due to fortunate circumstances.
The castle passed through the hands of various branches of the Lords of Gemmingen-Guttenberg. Philipp von
Gemmingen (1702–1785), who was favoured in an inheritance division, survived his only son, so that the castle
came to the branch Bonfeld-Lower Castle. Beginning with the sons of Ludwig Eberhard von Gemmingen-
Guttenberg (1750–1841), the castle was owned by a condominium of several shareholders until 1932 .
The tourism at the castle was founded by Gustav von Gemmingen-Guttenberg (1897–1973), who took over the
castle's forestry operations in 1923 and founded the sawmill in Neckarmühlbach. In 1949 he set up the castle
museum and in 1950 the castle tavern, which was expanded in the following year, in the porch. The arrival of the
German police station in 1971 is also due to Gustav von Gemmingen-Guttenberg. After the Greifenwarte moved
in, the number of tourists visiting the castle increased considerably. In 1972 the castle tavern was expanded to
include a self-service restaurant. Gustav von Gemmingen's son Christoph von Gemmingen-Guttenberg (1930–1999)
and his wife Gabriele continued the administration and expansion of the castle.
On the street leading west of the castle through the outer bailey, there are buildings dating from the 15th to 17th
centuries. The long, two-story quarry stone building from the 15th century is the main structure. The adjoining low,
partly timber-framed building directs the view to the gate with the two towers, the entrance gate to the outer bailey
in the old days. The path still leads past the castle chapel into the valley. The pointed arch, by a secured gate dates
from the 2nd half of the 15th century and was closed by two wooden rotating leaves. The second gate opposite,
through which one can visit the castle today, also had its rotating wing on the side facing the outer bailey. The
outer bailey behind its wall was therefore lockable and did not serve to protect the inner bailey. The wall surrounding
the outer bailey was only opened in modern times because of the driveway on both sides.
On the way to the main gate of the castle, the mighty shield wall and the 40 m high keep, are impressive. They
are located behind the Zwingermauer with a late Gothic round arch frieze that surrounds the entire inner castle.
The older wall probably from the 13th century. It was built with five round towers in the 2nd half of the 15th
century, under the Lords of Gemmingen. The shield wall is made of quarry stone masonry. A section in the old
curtain wall was renewed in the 14th century, and increased in strength at different time intervals.
The basement of the keep, made of roughly hewn humpback blocks, tdates from the 2nd quarter of the 13th century.
A short flight of stairs leads from the battlement above the shield wall to the entrance floor. The room with an toilet
niche and traces of a fireplace was habitable for a gate guard. The defence level above has window niches on all
four sides with closable openings for small guns. The two unused floors below the entrance floor had no other
function at the time of construction than to raise the tower. This keep never served as a dungeon. The keep with
its high entrance was not designed to be a place of retreat in the event of an attack, but was a place of observation
for the castle guard. The two stories above the cornice were added in the late 15th century, after the castle passed
to the Lords of Gemmingen.
The stone bridge over the neck ditch leads to the main gate, dated to 1572, originally ended a few meters in front
of the gate and was lengthened in old times by a drawbridge which has now disappeared . The weakly fortified
main gate was built in the late 16th century into the outer wall built in the 15th century. The second gate was
added in the 15th century in the older Zwingermauer, which is still visible at this point. The narrow inner courtyard
is bounded in the south by the shield wall, in the east and in the west by the residential buildings.
Soon after 1449, a four-story residential building was built behind the western curtain wall. This building, preserved
in its outer walls, was modernized in the 16th century and received a baroque portal in 1741. The former residential
building, which now houses the castle museum, is still in this state today.
On the site of a smaller previous building, probably dating from the 14th century, the new eastern residential building
was built in the 16th century. The masonry of the building, which was modernized in the Baroque period, partly
comes from these old buildings. A new wing was added to the building in the 18th century, along with a baroque
staircase from 1776. The stone balustrade that surrounds the roof of the keep also dates to the late 18th century.
Since then, the lords of the castle used the keep as an observation tower, with a view over the Neckar valley to
Hornberg Castle and Horneck Castle. The medieval hilltop castle with its keep from the Staufer era was modernized
again and again still today it is a center of the extensive family of the lord of the castle.
While the private rooms of the castle owners are in the eastern residential building, the castle museum is in the
western one. Here the visitor is provided with information bout knighthood and medieval jurisdiction. The keep
can be climbed during the opening hours of the museum and offers a wonderful view over the Neckar valley.
Guttenberg Castle is widely known for the accommodation of its bird sanctuary, the Greifenwarte. (Georg Ulrich
Großmann, Hans-Heinrich Häffner: Guttenberg Castle on the Neckar . 1st edition. Schnell + Steiner, Regensburg 2007)
(Johannes Bökh Photo)
Burg Guttenberg, southwest gatehouse.
(Alexander Migl Photo)
Harburg Castle is an extensive mediaeval complex from the 11th-12th century in Harburg, Bavaria, in the
Donau-Ries district. Originally a Staufer castle, now it is owned by the princely House of Oettingen-Wallerstein.
The first record of the castle is dated 1150, when the Staufer Henry Berengar wrote a letter to his aunt Bertha of
Sulzbach, Empress of Byzantium. Harburg Castle was likely built in the 11th century, because at the end of this
century Cuno de Horeburc (Kuno of Harburg), a noble man, was well known. In 1530 the historian Hieronymus
was a clerk at Harburg Castle.
Burg Harburg is a completely preserved hill castle with a remarkable building complex dating from the Middle
Ages. In the 15th century the fortress was extended with residential buildings. From the 16th to the 18th century
further extensions completed a prince's residence (ceremonial hall, castle church). A fairly unique element is the
particularly well-preserved, late-medieval ring wall with defensive corridor. (Jürgen Dendorfer (2004), "Adelige
Gruppenbildung und Königsherrschaft. Die Grafen von Sulzbach und ihr Beziehungsgeflecht im 12. Jahrhundert."
Studien zur Verfassungs- und Sozialgeschichte (in German), München)
Aerial view of Burg Harburg.
Burg Eltz, near the Mosel River, Germany, Oil on canvas, 18 X 24. (Author's artwork)
Burg Eltz, near the Mosel River Germany. Of more than 500 castles in the Rhineland Palatinate region this is one
of only three to have survived the many wars and destruction in the region mostly intact since the 11th century.
The Eltz family occupied the castle in the 12th century, and then continued to make renovations and additions for
centuries afterwards. For this reason it wasn’t fully completed until between 1490 and 1540. The 80-room castle
is still occupied today, and looks much as it would have hundreds of years ago. The castle is one of the few in the
area that survived the Thirty Years’ War. The French did not destroy the castle thanks to its location, and some
skilled diplomacy on the part of the landowners.
It is a good walk to get to, up and down a number of hills and forest tracks through a beautiful area and a
breathtaking view of the castle. Burg Eltz is one of the hundreds of castles examined by the author while
researching material for the book "Siegecraft". Burg Eltz is, in this author's opinion, the most interesting of them all.
(Francisco Conde Sánchez Photo)
Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz) is a medieval castle nestled in the hills above the Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier.
It is still owned by a branch of the same family (the Eltz family) that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations
ago. Bürresheim Castle, Eltz Castle and Lissingen Castle are the only castles on the left bank of the Rhine in Rhineland-
Palatinate which have never been destroyed.
The castle is surrounded on three sides by the Elzbach River, a tributary on the north side of the Moselle. It stands
on a 70-metre (230 ft) rock spur, on an important Roman trade route between rich farmlands and their markets.
The Eltz Forest has been declared a nature reserve by Flora-Fauna-Habitat and Natura 2000.
The castle is a so-called Ganerbenburg, a castle belonging to community of joint heirs. This is a castle divided
into several parts, which belong to different families or different branches of a family; this usually occurs when
multiple owners of one or more territories jointly build a castle to house themselves. Only wealthy medieval
European lords could afford to build castles or equivalent structures on their lands; many of them only owned
one village, or even only part of a village. This was an insufficient base to afford castles. Such lords usually
lived in "knight's houses", which were fairly simple houses, scarcely bigger than those of their tenants. In some
parts of the Holy Romain Empire of the German Nation, inheritance law required that the estate be divided among
all successors. These successors, each of whose individual inheritance was too small to build a castle of his own,
could build a castle together, where each owned one separate part for housing and all of them together shared the
defensive fortification. In the case of Eltz, the family comprised three branches and the existing castle was enhanced
with three separate complexes of buildings.
The main part of the castle consists of the family portions. At up to eight stories, these eight towers reach heights
of between 30 and 40 metres (98 and 131 ft). They are fortified with strong exterior walls; to the yard they present
a partial framework. About 100 members of the owners' families lived in the over 100 rooms of the castle. A
village once existed below the castle, on its southside, which housed servants, craftsman, and their families supporting the castle.
Platteltz, a Romanesque keep, is the oldest part of the castle, having begun in the 9th century as a simple manor
with an earthen palisade. By 1157 the fortress was an important part of the empire under Frederick Barbaross,
standing astride the trade route from the Moselle Valley and the Eifel region. In the years 1331–1336, there
occurred the only serious military conflicts that the castle experienced. During the Eltz Feud, the lords of Eltzer,
together with other free imperial knights, opposed the territorial policy of the Archbishop and Elector Balduin von
Trier. The Eltz Castle was put under siege and possible capture and was bombarded with catapults by the
Archbishop of the Diocese of Trier. A small siege castle, Trutzeltz Castle, was built on a rocky outcrop on the
hillside above the castle, which can still be seen today as a few ruined walls outside of the northern side of the
castle. The siege lasted for two years, but ended only when the free imperial knights had given up their imperial
freedom. Balduin reinstated Johann again to the burgrave, but only as his subjects and no longer as a free knight.
In 1472 the Rübenach house, built in the Late Gothic style, was completed. Remarkable are the Rübenach Lower
Hall, a living room, and the Rübenach bedchamber with its opulently decorated walls.
Started in 1470 by Philipp zu Eltz, the 10-story Greater Rodendorf House takes its name from the family's land
holding in Lorraine. The oldest part is the flag hall with its late Gothic vaulted ceiling, which was probably
originally a chapel. Construction was completed around 1520. The (so-called) Little Rodendorf house was finished
in 1540, also in Late Gothic style. It contains the vaulted "banner-room". The Kempenich house replaced the o
riginal hall in 1615. Every room of this part of the castle could be heated; in contrast, other castles might only
have one or two heated rooms.
In the Palatinate War of Succession from 1688 to 1689, most of the early Rhenish castles were destroyed. Since
Hans Anton was a senior officer in the French army to Eltz Üttingen, he was able to protect the castle Eltz from destruction. Count Hugo Philipp zu Eltz was thought to have fled during the French rule on the Rhine from 1794
to 1815. The French confiscated his possessions on the Rhine and nearby Trier which included Eltz castle, as well
as the associated goods which were held at the French headquarters in Koblenz. In 1797, when Count Hugo Philipp
later turned out to have remained hidden in Mainz, he came back to the reclaim of his lands, goods and wealth.
In 1815 he became the sole owner of the castle through the purchase of the Rübenacher house and the landed
property of the barons of Eltz-Rübenach.
In the 19th century, Count Karl zu Eltz was committed to the restoration of his castle. In the period between 1845
and 1888, 184,000 marks (about 15 million euros in 2015) was invested into the extensive construction work, very
carefully preserving the existing architecture. Extensive security and restoration work took place between the
years 2009 to 2012. Among other things, the vault of flags hall was secured after it was at risk of partially
collapsing walls and the porch of the Kempenich section. In addition to these static repairs, almost all the slate
roofs were replaced. Structural problems were remedied in the ceiling and wood damage was repaired. In the
interior, heating and sanitary facilities, windows and fire alarm system were renewed, and also historic plaster
was restored. The half-timbered facades and a spiral staircase were renovated at the costs of around €4.4 million.
The measures were supported by a €2 million grant from an economic stimulus package provided by the German
federal government. The state of Rhineland-Palatinate, the German Foundation for Monument Protection and
the owners provided further funds.
The Rübenach and Rodendorf families' homes in the castle are open to the public, while the Kempenich branch
of the family uses the other third of the castle. The public is admitted seasonally, from April to October. Visitors
can view the treasury, with gold, silver and porcelain artifacts and the armory of weapons and suits of armour.
From 1965 to 1992, an engraving of Eltz Castle was used on the German 500 Deutsche Mark note.
(de Fabianis, Valeria, ed. (2013). Castles of the World. New York: Metro Books)
(Johannes Dörrstock Photo)
Burg Eltz, morning view.
(Blueduck4711 Photo, 17 July 2010)
Bürresheim Castle (Schloss Bürresheim) is a medieval northwest of Mayen, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. It is
built on rock in the Eifel mountains above the Nette. Bürresheim Castle, Eltz Castle and Lissingen Castle are the
only castles on the left bank of the Rhine in Rhineland-Palatinate which have never been destroyed. It was inhabited
until 1921 and is now a museum operated by the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage, Rhineland-Palatinate.
(Vincent van Zeijst Photo)
Aerial view of Schloss Bürresheim.
(Frank Martini Photo)
Lissingen Castle (Burg Lissingen) is a well-preserved former moated castle dating to the 13th century. It is
located on the River Kyll in Gerolstein in the administrative district of Vulkaneifel in Rhineland-Palatinate. From
the outside it appears to be a single unit, but it is a double castle; an estate division in 1559 created the so-called
lower castle and upper castle, which continue to have separate owners. Together with Bürresheim and Eltz, it has
the distinction among castles in the Eifel of never having been destroyed. Lissingen Castle is a protected cultural
property under the Hague Convention.
The castle is located on the edge of Lissingen, a district of the city of Gerolstein, close to the river Kyll. It was
originally surrounded by the river and on the south and west sides by a moat. The moat has been filled in and
streets created on the site, but traces of the original water defenses are visible on the river side of the castle.
Lissingen and neighboring Sarresdorph most likely originated as a Roman settlement. Evidence of this is based
on archeological finds from an excavation in one of the courtyards of the lower castle before the First World War,
and also by its proximity to the former Roman settlement of Ausava, a horse-changing station on the road between
Treves and Cologne that today is the section of Gerolstein called Oos.
After the Germanic influx of the 5th century, the former Roman settlements came under the control of the Frankish
kings and later became demesne of the Merovingians and Carolingians. In the 8th and 9th centuries, during the
Carolingian era, Lissingen and Sarresdorph were both possessions of Prüm Abbey or of its estate of Büdesheim.
Following attacks on the abbey by Normans in the 9th century, fortified towers and later castles were built to
protect it. The castle at Lissingen took its present form as a defensible complex of buildings during the heyday
of chivalry in the High Middle Ages. The first documentary mention of Lissingen Castle dates to 1212, as a
possession of the Ritter (knight) von Liezingen. In 1514, Prüm Abbey enfeoffed Gerlach Zandt von Merl with
Lissingen. In 1559, the castle was then divided into two sections, the upper and the lower castle.
In 1661–63, Ferdinand Zandt von Merl almost completely rebuilt the lower castle. By incorporating three
medieval residential towers, he created an imposing manorial residence. There was a small annexed chapel,
which is mentioned in 1711 and 1745 as the oratory of the von Zandt family. This was surrendered in the early
20th century. After Anton Heinrich von Zandt’s death in 1697, Wilhelm Edmund von Ahr was the owner of the
castle. He doubled the size of the inhabited part of the castle.
In 1762, the elector of Trier (as procurator of Prüm Abbey) enfeoffed Josef Franz von Zandt zu Merl with Lissingen.
A few years later, in 1780, as an Imperial Knight of the Holy Roman Empire, the latter became Freiherr of Lissingen,
a small autonomous territory. Lissingen retained this status until the abolition of the Feudal system, and the castle
was greatly extended, in particular by the addition of a much larger tithe barn and stables.
As a result of the French Revolutioin, in 1794 the region of the left bank of the Rhine, including the estate of
Lissingen Castle, came under French administration. The Eifel became a Prussian possession in 1815. In the
years that followed, both sections of the castle changed hands several times, until they were reunited in 1913
under a single owner, who developed the property into a large agricultural operation. The construction of a small
power plant, which began operation in 1906, had an appreciable effect on the economic operation of the castle.
This provided electricity for the castle, approximately 50 houses in the settlement of Lissingen, and the local train
station. Private power generation ended in 1936, when the Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk took over
service to Lissingen.
In 1932, a Cologne brewery owner by the name of Greven acquired the property, which had been affected by the
international economic crisis. He developed the large agricultural infrastructure on the south side of the castle,
including in 1936 a new cowshed with a milking parlor, a milk processing plant, a refrigerated storage area and
one of the first milk bottling plants in the Eifel. During the Second World War, the castle served as a billet for several Wehrmacht regiments and as command post for the German General Staff. Towards the end of the war,
it was used as a temporary prison for highly ranked military captives.
After the war, the Greven family resumed dairy and livestock farming operations. Until 1977, the lower castle
was operated as an agricultural enterprise by a leaseholder. However, the estate ceased to be economically viable
as a farm. The castle buildings, especially the gatehouse of the upper castle and the entire lower castle, were
increasingly neglected and fell into disrepair. Investment in the buildings resumed only after both sections of the
castle came into the hands of new owners.
In 1987 the lower castle was acquired by Karl Grommes, a patent attorney from Koblentz. He has carried out
wide-ranging restoration work and added furniture, household effects, and workshops, with the intention of
restoring the appearance of the entire ensemble to provide insights into life and work in such a castle and on its
grounds. As of 2011, the following parts of the castle are open to visitors: the picturesque old courtyard of the
lower castle, the main house with cellar, kitchen, and living spaces, the tithe barn and other outbuildings, and the
estate, with numerous relics of the past. There are permanent exhibits on sleighs, carriages, church weathervanes,
and historical building materials. After five years as a traveling exhibition, the Eifel Museums special exhibition
Essens-Zeiten (Mealtimes) has been permanently housed at the castle. In addition, the lower castle is available
for gastronomic and cultural events, such as marriages, conferences, art projects, and exhibitions. It has a bakery
with a historical brick oven, a restaurant, and a civil registry office.
The upper castle was acquired by Christine and Christian Engels in 2000. It is a private residence but can be
visited by appointment. As of 2011 some rooms are available as vacation rentals. The whole castle complex is
divided into two parts: firstly, the lower castle, which includes various buildings, courtyards, open areas, and also
the attached land or meadow; and secondly, the upper castle, which also includes buildings, a courtyard, and open
areas. Today the palatial manor house is in Renaissance style. It was created in 1661–63 by combining three
medieval residential towers into a single angled structure. The oldest architectural remnants in the castle are to
be found in the cellar of this building and in the vaults under the large terrace in front of it, and may date to the
Carolingian era. On the ground floor, in addition to reception and dining rooms, there is a rustic estate kitchen.
Above this floor is a mezzanine level with appreciably lower ceilings, which formerly housed the actual living
spaces for the owners. The upper floor above that contains three high-ceilinged formal rooms with remarkable
The castle mill was originally a freestanding building outside the castle defenses. It was integrated into the castle
complex only in the course of later extensions that resulted from the division of the castle. The mill ground wheat
for flour; the miller paid 5 malter of grain, 6 guilders and 8 albus in rent and for water usage. In addition, the lords
of the castle were permitted to have their grains ground free at any time with no flour kept back by the miller.
By the early 20th century, electricity was being generated at the mill using the water; this was the origin of the
later power plant. Around 1920, a large wood-fired stone oven, a so-called Königswinter oven, was installed,
which provided the bread needed by the many people living and working at the castle. The oven has been restored
and is again in use, providing baked goods for purchase and for consumption at the castle.
On the western side of the castle there is still a large meadow area, bordered in part by the Oosbach stream and in
part by a millstream that branches off from it. The Oosbach originally fed the moats and later provided water to
drive the mill and the electrical generator. In addition the water was used for the animals, to farm fish, and for
firefighting. The millstream has largely been preserved and it has been possible to briefly reactivate it. The meadow
area has been restored to showcase various biota and sculptures and provide locations for relaxation and nature
observation. In 2004 it was featured in the Trier garden show.
The lower castle grounds also include the historic approach to the castle (the Im Hofpesch path and the millrace
path, both with old trees along them) and the upper stretch of the millstream and the sluice that diverts the water
from the Oosbach. (Peter Bartlick. Geschichte der Burg Lissingen. Gerolstein, 2010)
Ground Plan of Burg Lissingen.
Aerial view of Burg Lissingen.
Schloss Rhein Pfalz, on the Rhine River, Germany, Oil on canvas, 18 X 24.
Gutenfels Castle and Rheinpfalz Castle on the Rhine River on the Rhine River, Germany.
Gutenfels Castle on the Rhine River, Germany.
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle (Burg Pfalzgrafenstein) is a toll castle on Falkenau island, otherwise known as Pfalz Island
in the Rhine River near Kaub, Germany. Known as "the Pfalz," this former stronghold is famous for its picturesque
and unique setting.
The keep of this island castle, a pentagonal tower with its point upstream, was erected 1326 to 1327 by King Ludwig
the Bavarian. Around the tower, a defensive hexagonal wall was built between 1338 to 1340. In 1477
Pfalzgrafenstein was passed as deposit to the Count of Katzenelnbogen. Later additions were made in 1607 and
1755, consisting of corner turrets, the gun bastion pointing upstream, and the characteristic baroque tower cap.
The castle functioned as a toll-collecting station that was not to be ignored. It worked in concert with Gutenfels
Castle and the fortified town of Kaub on the right side of the river. Due to a dangerous cataract on the river's left,
about a kilometer upstream, every vessel would have to use the fairway nearer to the right bank, thus floating
downstream between the mighty fortress on the vessel's left and the town and castle on its right. A chain across
the river drawn between those two fortifications forced ships to submit, and uncooperative traders could be kept
in the dungeon until a ransom was delivered. The dungeon was a wooden float in the well.
Unlike the vast majority of Rhine castles, "the Pfalz" was never conquered or destroyed, withstanding not only
wars, but also the natural onslaughts of ice and floods by the river. Its Spartan quarters held about twenty men.
Rheinpfalz castle on the Rhine River. There is a plaque marking this as site where General Blucher crossed the
ice-covered river with his army during the Napoleonic Wars before 1815.
(Ulli1105 Photo, 19 June 2005)
Berwartstein Castle (Burg Berwartstein) was one of the most interesting castles that I have a clear memory of my
parents taking us to visit on 27 March 1960. It stands on a rocky mount in southwestern Germany, and was one
of the rcok castles that were part of defences of the Palatinate during the Middle Ages. First documented in 1152,
Berwarstein is one of three significant examples of rock castles in the region with the other two being Drachenfels
and Altdahn. They are most notable because their stairs, passages and rooms are carved out of the living rock to
form part of the accommodation essential to the defence of the castle. Although Berwartstein Castle appears more
complete when compared to the ruins of neighbouring castles, it is only a restoration of the original rock castle. It
is the only castle in the Palatinate that was rebuilt and re-inhabited after its demolition.
(Claus Ableiter Photo)
Rock cut passageways leading under Berwartstein. Carved out of the cliff and accessible even today are corridors
and passageways which used to be part of the large underground defence network. Although not accessible today,
there was once a tunnel from the castle to the village below. These tunnels were hewn out with hammer and chisel
and partly dug through the soil.
One memory I have from those days, is that the guide took a group of us through an underground tunnel that wound
some distance from the entrance to the interior storage chamber. The guide was the only one with a flashlight, so
we all joined hands in a chain link to go through the dark path (cobwebs and all). On reaching the other end we
came into a room dubbed "casemate II", with a central pillar holding up the ceiling - it had been carved out of the
Casemate II, as it appeared when we came out of the tunnel - quite the introduction to castle tunnel spelunking!
I remember my father explaining that the robber knights operating from this castle created a problem for the rulers
in the area, so they commissioned one of their best knights to go and sort them out. He managed to get the best of
them, but on reflection decided they had a pretty good scheme going, and so he joined them, taking over the business,
so to speak. Even more remarkable, the fortress was so well defended, the Robber Knight died of old age, quite
rare for the profession. I am going to include some details of this castle, much of which is typical of the many I
have explored during our time in Germany.
(Franz Photo, 1 Oct 2011)
Armour and stone catapult/cannon balls. At the age of eight, these were the first I had seen.
During the 13th century, feudal tenants, who carried the name "von Berwartstein" inhabited the castle, which they
used as a base for raids in the manner of robber barons. The imperial cities of Strasbourg and Hagenau joined
forces against the von Berwartsteins. Following several weeks of futile attacks against the castle, they succeeded
in taking it in 1314, with the help of a traitor. A large amount of booty and about 30 prisoners were taken to
Strasbourg. The knights of Berwartstein were permitted to buy the prisoners back for a large ransom. The
knights of Berwartstein were forced to sell their castle to the brothers Ort and Ulrich von Weingarten. Four
years later the castle became the property of Weissenburg Abbey.
The monastery at Weissenburg placed the castle in stewardship and established a feudal system. This allowed
for the dismissal of vassals who became too presumptuous. Thus the monastery held possession of the castle
for some time. This could have continued indefinitely had the last steward of the castle (Erhard Wyler) not gone
too far. When he began feuding with the knights of Drachenfels, the Elector of the Palatinate took the opportunity
to bring the Berwartstein Castle under his control.
Because of his dynastic ambitions, the Elector of the Palatinate wanted to bring all of the Weissenburg estate under
his control. To accomplish this, in 1480 he ordered the knight, Hans von Trotha, who was Marshal and Commander
in Chief of the Palatinate forces, to acquire to Berwartstein. In this way he could enlarge the property at a cost to
the Monastery of Weissenburg. For the quarrelsome knight this was a pleasure to fulfil, since this gave him a chance
to take personal revenge on the Abbot of Weissenburg. Years before, Abbot Heinrich von Homburg had imposed a
church fine on his brother, Bishop Thilo. As a starting point for this conquering expedition, this experienced warrior
first renovated the castle to improve its appearance. He built strong ramparts and bastions as well as the outwork
and tower called Little France castle.
After von Trotha's death, Berwartstein Castle was inherited by his son Christoph and, when he died, it went to his
son-in-law, Friedrich von Fleckenstein and remained in the hands of this family for three generations. During this
time, the castle was destroyed by fire in 1591, and, since there is no mention of any attacks, it is presumed that the
castle was hit by lightning. Even though the main sections of the castle were not destroyed by the fire, it stood
empty and unused for many years. In the Peace of Westphalia (1648), Berwartstein received special mention,
when it was granted to Baron Gerhard von Waldenburg, known as Schenkern, a favorite of Emperor Ferdinand III.
Since he did not restore the castle, it fell into ruins.
A certain Captain Bagienski purchased the castle in 1893. In 1922, it was sold to Aksel Faber of Copenhagen,
and thus went into foreign ownership. Since he was seldom in Germany, he asked Alfons Wadlé to be his steward.
Later Wadlé he was able to purchase the castle.
The village of Erlenbach below the castle was completely destroyed during the Second World War, and its
inhabitants sought shelter in the castle. After the war, the roof had gone as well as the woodwork around windows,
doors, staircases and other furnishings. Since the castle was not financially supported, Alfons Wadlé went about
the renovation himself. At first he was only able to do what was essential to protect the castle from the elements.
Berwartstein has an opening on the southeast side of the cliff, commonly referred to as Aufstiegskamin (entrance
chimney). During the early years of the castle only the rooms and casemates in the upper cliff were complete and
the shaft was the only entrance to the castle. To make it easier to ascend the shaft, a portable wooden staircase or
rope ladder was placed into the castle. In the event of attack, the staircase or ladder was hoisted up into the castle.
This enabled the entrance to be defended by just one man who was supplied with boiling sap, oil or liquid to pour
on any intruder attempting to ascend the shaft. This limited access to the castles inner rooms was probably the
main reason it was never conquered during the Middle Ages. The narrow, almost vertical cliff on which the castle
stands, rises to a height of approximately 45 metres.
(H. Zell Photo)
The extremely deep well is one of the castle builders' greatest accomplishments. The well has a diameter of 2 metres
(6 ft) and was hacked out of the rock to the bottom of the valley some 104 metres (341 feet) below. This was
essential to the castle's survival when under siege.
The historic Great Hall or Rittersaal has a cross-vaulted ceiling. An engraving on the supporting central pillar
shows that it dates to the 13th century. The south wall of the hall is made from rock and includes a hewn-out lift
shaft used by the knights of Berwartstein to deliver supplies to the table and deliver food and drink from the kitchen
To the south on the opposite side of the valley from the castle on a spur of the Nestelberg can still be seen the tower
of Little France. This tower was part of an outwork or small subsidiary castle built by the well known knight and
castellan of the Berwartstein, Hans von Trotha. The tower was an important observation post and defensive position,
and meant that any attackers would have found themselves caught in a crossfire between the tower and the castle.
The open ground in the valley below between the tower and castle still bears the name Leichenfeld (Corpse Field),
a reference to the battles fought here. There is also evidence of an underground passage between the tower and
castle which is no longer accessible today since it has largely collapsed.
Nuremberg Castle with a view of the Palas, Imperial Chapel, Heathens' Tower on the left, Sinwell Tower in the
middle left, the Pentagonal Tower, the Imperial Stables and Luginsland Tower on the right. In the Middle Ages, German Kings, (respectively Holy Roman Emperors after their coronation by the Pope) did not have a capital,
but travelled from one of their castles (Kaiserpfalz or Imperial castle) to the next. For this reason, the castle at
Nürnberg became an important imperial castle, and in the following centuries, all German kings and emperors
stayed at the castle, most of whom did so on several occasions. Nuremberg Castle is comprised of three sections:
the Imperial castle (Kaiserburg), the former Burgraves' castle (Burggrafenburg), and the buildings erected by the
Imperial City at the eastern site (Reichsstädtische Bauten).
The first fortified buildings appear to have been erected around 1000. Thereafter, three major construction periods
may be distinguished: The castle was built under the Salian kings respectively Holy Roman Emperors (1027–1125).
A new castle was built under the Hohenstaufen emperors (1138–1254). Reconstruction of the Palas as well as various
modifications and additions in the late medieval centuries took place.
The castle lost its importance after the Thirty Year's War (1618 to 1648). In the 19th century with its general
interest in the medieval period, some modifications were added. During the Nazi period, in preparation of the
Nuremberg party rally in 1936, it was "returned to its original state." A few years later, during the Second World
War and its air raids in 1944/1945, a large part of the castle was laid in ruins. It took some thirty years to complete
the rebuilding and restoration to its present state.
Nuremberg Castle, Tiefer Brunnen (Deep well, small building with gable roof in the middle) and Sinwellturm
(Sinwell Tower). The complex consists of a group of medieval fortified buildings on a sandstone ridge ridge
dominating the historical center of Nuremberg in Bavaria, Germany. The castle, together with its city walls, was
considered to be one of Europe's most formidable medieval fortifications. It represented the power and importance
of the Holy Roman Empire and the outstanding role of the Imperial City of Nuremberg.
Wartburg Castle, overlooking the town of Eisenach in the state of Thuringia, Germany, 27 May 2016. Originally
built in Middle Ages, The Wartburg stands on a cliff rising 410 meters (1,350 ft) to the southwest of and overlooking
the town of Eisenach, in the state of Thuringia, Germany. It was the home of St. Elisabeth of Hungary, the place
where Martin Luther translated the New Testament of the Bible into German, the site of the Wartburg festival of
1817 and the supposed setting for the possibly legendary Sängerkrieg. It was an important inspiration for Ludwig II
when he decided to build Neuschwanstein Castle. The Wartburg castle contains substantial original structures from
the 12th through 15th centuries, but much of the interior dates back only to the 19th century.
The castle's foundation was laid about 1067 by the Thuringian count of Schauenburg, Ludwig der Springer, a
relative of the Counts of Rieneck in Franconia. Together with its larger sister castle Neuenburg in the present-day
town of Freyburg, the Wartburg secured the extreme borders of his traditional territories. Ludwig der Spring is
said to have had clay from his lands transported to the top of the hill, which was not quite within his lands, so he
might swear that the castle was built on his soil.
The castle was first mentioned in a written document in 1080 by Bruno, Bishop of Merseburg, in his De Bello
Saxonico ("The Saxon War") as Wartberg. During the Investiture Controversy, Ludwig's henchmen attacked a
military contingent of King Henry IV of Germany. The count remained a fierce opponent of the Salian rulers, and
upon the extinction of the line, his son Louis I was elevated to the rank of a Landgrave in Thuringia by the new
German king Lothair of Supplinburg in 1131.
From 1172 to 1211, the Wartburg was one of the most important princes' courts in the German Reich. Hermann I
supported poets like Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach who wrote part of his Parzival
here in 1203.
The castle thus became the setting for the legendary Sängerkrieg, or Minstrels' Contest in which such Minnesänger
as Walther von der Vogelweide, Wolfram von Eschenbach, Albrecht von Halberstadt (the translator of Ovid) and
many others supposedly took part in 1206/1207. The legend of this event was later used by Richard Wagner in
his opera Tannhäuser.
At the age of four, St. Elisabeth of Hungary was sent by her mother to the Wartburg to be raised to become consort
of Landgrave Ludwig IV of Thuringia. From 1211 to 1228, she lived in the castle and was renowned for her charitable
work. In 1221, Elisabeth married Ludwig. In 1227, Ludwig died on the Crusade and she followed her confessor
Father Konrad to Marburg. Elisabeth died there in 1231 at the age of 24 and was canonized as a saint of the Roman
Catholic Church, just five years after her death.
In 1247, Heinrich Raspe, the last landgrave of Thuringia of his line and an anti-king of Germany, died at the Wartburg.
He was succeeded by Henry III, Margrave of Meissen.
In 1320, substantial reconstruction work was done after the castle had been damaged in a fire caused by lightning in
1317 or 1318. A chapel was added to the Palas. The Wartburg remained the seat of the Thuringian landgraves until
1440. From May 1521 to March 1522, Martin Luther stayed at the castle under the name of Junker Jörg (the Knight
George), after he had been taken there for his safety at the request of Frederick the Wise following his
excommunication by Pope Leo X and his refusal to recant at the Diet of Worms. It was during this period that Luther
translated the New Testament from ancient Greek into German in just ten weeks. Luther's work was not the first
German translation of the Bible but it quickly became the most well known and most widely circulated.
From 1540 until his death in 1548, Fritz Erbe, an Anabaptist farmer from Herda, was held captive in the dungeon
of the south tower, because he refused to abjure anabaptism. After his death, he was buried in the Wartburg near
the chapel of St. Elisabeth. In 1925, a handwritten signature of Fritz Erbe was found on the prison wall. Over the
next few centuries, the castle fell increasingly into disuse and disrepair, especially after the end of the Thirty Years'
War when it had served as a refuge for the ruling family. In 1777, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe stayed at the
Wartburg for five weeks, making various drawings of the buildings.
On 18 October 1817, the first Wartburg festival took place. About 500 students, members of the newly founded
German Burschenschaften (fraternities), came together at the castle to celebrate the German victory over Napoleon
four years before and the 300th anniversary of the Reformation, condemn conservatism and call for German unity
under the motto "Honour - Freedom - Fatherland". Speakers at the event included Heinrich Hermann Riemann, a
veteran of the Lützow Free Corps, the philosophy student Ludwig Rödiger, and Hans Ferdinand Massmann. This
event and a similar gathering at Wartburg during the Revolutions of 1848 are considered seminal moments in the
movement for German unification.
During the rule of the House of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, Grand Duke Karl Alexander ordered the reconstruction of
Wartburg in 1838. The lead architect was Hugo von Ritgen, for whom it became a life's work. In fact, it was
finished only a year after his death in 1889. Drawing on a suggestion by Goethe that the Wartburg would serve
well as a museum, Maria Pavlovna and her son Karl Alexander also founded the art collection (Kunstkammer) that
became the nucleus of today's museum. The reign of the House of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach ended in the German
Revolution in 1918. In 1922, the Wartburg Stiftung (Wartburg Foundation) was established to ensure the castle's
After the end of the Second World War, Soviet occupation forces took the renowned collection of weapons and
armour. Its whereabouts still remain unknown. The Rüstkammer (armoury) of the Wartburg once contained a
notable collection of about 800 pieces, from the splendid armour of King Henry II of France, to the items of
Frederick the Wise, Pope Julius II and Bernhard von Weimar. All these objects were taken by the Soviet
Occupation Army in 1946 and have disappeared in Russia. Two helmets, two swords, a prince's and a boy's
armour, however, were found in a temporary store at the time and a few pieces were given back by the USSR
in the 1960s. The new Russian Government has been petitioned to help locate the missing treasures.
Under communist rule during the time of the GDR extensive reconstruction took place in 1952-54. In particular,
much of the palas was restored to its original Romanesque style. A new stairway was erected next to the palas.
In 1967, the castle was the site of celebrations of the GDR's national jubilee, the 900th anniversary of the Wartburg's foundation, the 450th anniversary of the beginning of Luther's Reformation and the 150th anniversary of the
Wartburg Festival. In 1983, it was the central point of the celebrations on account of the 500th birthday of Martin Luther.
The largest structure of the Wartburg is the Palas, originally built in late Romanesque style between 1157 and
1170. It is considered the best-preserved non-ecclesial Romanesque building north of the Alps. (Wikipedia)
Burg Gleichen, Thuringia, Germany.
Burg Muhlberg, Thuringia, Germany.
Schloss Hohenzollern, Germany. Oil on canvas, 18 X 24.
(A. Kniesel Photo, 1 Nov 2006)
Schloss Hohenzollern is the ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern. It is the third of three castles
built on the site, and is located on top of Mount Hohenzollern, above and south of the town of Hechingen, on the
edge of the Swabian Jura of central Baden-Würtemberg, Germany.
The first castle on the mountain was constructed in the early 11th century. Over the years the House of Hohenzollern
split several times, but the castle remained with the branch of the family, that later acquired its own imperial throne.
This castle was completely destroyed in 1423 after a ten-month siege by the free imperial cities of Swabia.
The second castle, a larger and sturdier structure, was constructed from 1454 to 1461, which served as a refuge for
the Catholic Swabian Hohenzollerns, including during the Thirty Year's War. By the end of the 18th century it was
thought to have lost its strategic importance and gradually fell into disrepair, leading to the demolition of several
The third, and current, castle was built between 1846 and 1867 as a family memorial by Hohenzollern King Frederick
William IV of Prussia. No member of the Hohenzollern family was in permanent or regular residence when it was
completed, and none of the three German Emperors of the late 19th and early 20th century German Empire occupied
the castle; in 1945 it briefly became the home of the former Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, son of the last
Hohenzollern monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Schloss Heidelberg, Germany, as it might have looked before its destruction. Oil on canvas, 11 X 14.
Schloss Heidelberg, Germany, as it appears now (Heidelberg-Schloß, 1 May 2005).
Many Canadians with the Canadian Forces and their families lived in Heidelberg, while their military members
served with the Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), which was the NATO command tasked with air and
air defence operations in NATO's Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) area of command. AAFCE had initially
been activated on 2 April 1951 at Fontainebleau, France through General Dwight D. Eisenhower's General Order No. 1.
AAFCE consisted of two allied tactical air forces, Second Tactical Air Force, comprising British-Dutch No. 2 Group,
RAF, Belgian-Dutch 69 Group, and British-Belgian No. 83 Group, RAF. Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force,
comprised of the Twelfth Air Force, French 1er Air Division, and No. Canadian Air Division, RCAF. The
peacetime headquarters of 4 ATAF was in Heidelberg, which is why many Canadians served there.
Heidelberg Castle (Schloss Heidelberg) is a ruin in Germany and landmark of the city of Heidelberg. Heidelberg
was first mentioned in 1196 as "Heidelberch". The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures
north of the Alps. The castle has only been partially rebuilt since its demolition in the 17th and 18th centuries. It is
located 80 metres (260 ft) up the northern part of the Konigstuhl ,hillside, and thereby dominates the view of the
old town. The earliest castle structure near this site was built before 1214 and later expanded into two castles c1294;
however, in 1537, a lightning bolt destroyed the upper castle. The present structures had been expanded by 1650,
before damage by later wars and fires. In 1764, another lightning bolt caused a fire which destroyed some rebuilt sections.
When Ruprecht became the King of Germany in 1401, the castle was so small that on his return from his coronation,
he had to camp out in the Augustinians' monastery, on the site of today's University Square. What he desired was
more space for his entourage and court and to impress his guests, but also additional defences to turn the castle into
a fortress. After Ruprecht's death in 1410, his land was divided between his four sons.
During the reign of Louis V, Elector Palatine (1508–1544) that Martin Luther came to Heidelberg to defend one
of his theses (Heidelberg Disputation) and paid a visit to the castle. He was shown around by Louis's younger
brother, Wolfgang, Count Palatine, and in a letter to his friend George Spalatin praised the castle's beauty and its defences.
In 1618, Protestants rebelling against the Holy Roman Empire offered the crown of Bohemia to Frederick V, Elector
Palatine, who accepted despite misgivings and in doing so triggered the outbreak of the Thirty Year's War. The
Thirty Years' War was a religious war fought primarily in Central Europe between 1618 and 1648. It resulted in
the deaths of over 8 million people, including 20% of the German population, making it one of the most destructive
conflicts in human history.
It was during the Thirty Years War that arms were raised against the castle for the first time. This period marks the
end of the castle's construction; the centuries to follow brought with them destruction and rebuilding.
After his defeat at the Battle of White Mountain on 8 November 1620, Frederick V was on the run as an outlaw
and had to release his troops prematurely, leaving the Palatinate undefended against General Tilly, the supreme
commander of the Imperial and Holy Roman Empire's troops. On 26 August 1622, Tilly commenced his attack
on Heidelberg, taking the town on 16 September, and the castle few days later.
When the Swedes captured Heidelberg on 5 May 1633 and opened fire on the castle from the Königstuhl hill
behind it, Tilly handed over the castle. The following year, the emperor's troops tried to recapture the castle, but it
was not until July 1635 that they succeeded. It remained in their possession until the Peace of Westphalia ending
the Thirty Years War was signed. The new ruler, Chalres Louis (Karl Ludwig) and his family did not move into
the ruined castle until 7 October 1649.
Schloss Heidelberg on the Neckar River showing the Alte Bruecke (Old Bridge), Heilgigeistkirche (Church of the
Holy Ghost), from a 1643 engraving by Matthäus Merian.
After the death of Charles II, Elector Palatine, Louis XIV of France demanded the surrender of the allodial title in
favour of the Duchess of Orléans, Elizabeth Charlotte, Princess Palatine, who he claimed was the rightful heir to
the Simmern lands. On 29 September 1688, the French troops marched into the Palatinate of the Rhine and on 24
October moved into Heidelberg, which had been deserted by Philipp Wilhelm, the new Elector Palatine. At war
against the allied European powers, France's war council decided to destroy all fortifications and to lay waste to
the Palatinate (Brûlez le Palatinat!), in order to prevent an enemy attack from this area. As the French withdrew
from the castle on 2 March 1689, they set fire to it and blew the front off the Fat Tower. Portions of the town were
also burned, but the mercy of a French general, René de Froulay de Tessé, who told the townspeople to set small
fires in their homes to create smoke and the illusion of burning prevented wider destruction.
Immediately upon his accession in 1690, Johann Wilhelm, Elector palatine had the walls and towers rebuilt. When
the French again reached the gates of Heidelberg in 1691 and 1692, the town's defenses were so good that they did
not gain entry. On 18 May 1693, the French were yet again at the town's gates and took it on 22 May. However,
they did not attain control of the castle and destroyed the town in attempt to weaken the castle's main support base.
The castle's occupants capitulated the next day. The French then took the opportunity to finish the destruction of
Heidelberg that they began in 1689, after their hurried exit from the town. The towers and walls that had survived
the last wave of destruction, were blown up with mines.
In 1697 the Treaty of Ryswick was signed, marking the end of the War of the Grand Alliance and finally bringing
peace to the town. Plans were made to pull down the castle and to reuse parts of it for a new palace in the valley.
When difficulties with this plan became apparent, the castle was partially repaired. In the following decades, basic
repairs were made, but Heidelberg Castle remained essentially a ruin. In 1767, the south wall was quarried for
stone to build Schwetzingen Castle. In 1784, the vaults in the Ottoheinrich wing were filled in, and the castle
used as a source of building materials.
The question of whether the castle should be completely restored was discussed for a long time. Eventually, a
detailed plan was developed for preserving or repairing the main building. The planners completed their work
in 1890, which led a commission of specialists from across Germany to decide that while a complete or partial
rebuilding of the castle was not possible, it was possible to preserve it in its current condition. Only the Friedrich
Building, whose interiors were fire damaged, but not ruined, would be restored. This reconstruction was done
from 1897 to 1900 by Karl Schäfer at the enormous cost of 520,000 Marks.
The forecourt is the area enclosed between the main gate, the upper prince's well, the Elisabeth gate, the castle
gate and the entrance to the garden. Around 1800 it was used by the overseer for drying laundry. Later on, it was
used for grazing cattle, and chickens and geese were kept here. The approach to the forecourt takes you across a
stone bridge, over a partially filled-in ditch. The main gate was built in 1528. The original watchhouse was
destroyed in the War of the Grand Alliance, and replaced in 1718 by a round-arched entrance gate. The gate to
the left of the main entrance was closed by means of a drawbridge. The former harness room, originally a coach
house, was in reality begun as a fortification. After the Thirty Year's War, it was used as a stables as well as a
toolshed, garage and carriage house. (Harry B. Davis: "What Happened in Heidelberg: From Heidelberg Man to
the Present": Verlag Brausdruck GmbH, 1977)
(Storfix Photo, 16 Oct 2005)
Veste Coburg (Coburg Fortress), is one of the most well-preserved medieval fortresses of Germany. It is situated
on a hill above the town of Coburg, in the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria. Veste Coburg dominates the town
of Coburg on Bavaria's border with Thuringia. It is located at an altitude of 464 meters above sea level, 167 meters
above the town. Its size (around 135 meters by 260 meters) makes it one of the medium sized fortresses in Germany.
The hill on which Veste Coburg stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the
results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia.
Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071.
In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also
refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered
from the hill.
A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the
hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via
Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term sloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the
town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania (or Meran). They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg,
who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania (Askanien) was in charge.
In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der
Streitbare, was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. Thus, Coburg – despite being in Franconia – was
now referred to as "Saxony", like other properties of the House of Wettin. As a result of the Hussite Wars, the
fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.
In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector
Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the fortress as a
residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder, lived and worked in the Fortress. From April to
October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Fortress, as he was under
an Imperial ban at the time. During his stay at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible
into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable
location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town center of Coburg. The Veste then served as a fortification only.
In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the
Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In
1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von
Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von
Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the
Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.
From 1638 to 1672, Coburg and the fortress were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to
the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha, and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to
France (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.
In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself "Ernst I". Military use of
the fortress had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst
had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison
(since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and
Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.
The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of
Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the
United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste Coburg in the 19th century were reversed
under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other
ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolutions of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated
in late 1918, the fortress came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there
until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation,
which today runs the museum (see below.
In 1945, the fortress was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of the Second World War. After 1946,
renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bavarian Administration of State-owned Palaces,
Gardens and Lakes.
Veste Coburg is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection of art objects and paintings
that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant
examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins. (Daniel
Burger: Festungen in Bayern. Schnell + Steiner, Regensburg 2008)
Aerial view of Veste Coburg.
Satzvey Castle (Burg Satzvey) is a medieval moated castle, originally built in the 12th century, located on the
northeastern edge of the Eifel in Mechernich (district Satzvey) in Euskirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia. It is one
of the best preserved moated castles in the Rhineland, retaining much of its original Rhenish structure. It was built
by the ministerial nobility of the 14th and 15th centuries in the lowland (high nobility tended to build hilltop castles
that were difficult to conquer). Without mountains to build on as a natural obstacle for attackers, lowland castle
builders had to rely on moats and water ditches that were difficult to overcome. For this reason, moated castles
were usually built on two islands and were almost always near a stream that supplied the trenches with water. The
more strongly fortified main castle was thereby additionally protected by an outer castle built on a second island.
Satzvey castle was originally built on two islands surrounded by moats.
In the 12th century, Satzvey castle was held by the Hofanlage family, who had named it after the river flowing
through the Veybach field. The Archbishop of Cologne, Engelbert II von der Mark, gave Satzvey as a fief to Otto
von Vey, who was mentioned in a document in 1368 as the first Vogt of this name. When his male line died out,
his granddaughter brought her husband Heinrich von Krauthausen to the castle in 1391. In 1396, Heinrich built
the first originally free-standing, two-story Gothic castle to serve as the new administrative seat.
In the 15th century, the fortification of the facility was increased. The gatehouse with the twin towers was built,
a kennel was built and the outer bailey was reinforced. In the second half of the 15th century the castle belonged
to the von Meller family, after 1512 it was owned by various noble families until it was taken over by Wilhelm
von Büllesheim in 1561. The Archbishop of Cologne supported the appropriation to maintain peace in the country.
In 1578 the Duke of Jülich, Wilhelm V the Rich, occupied the castle. After three years the lord of the castle Spies
von Büllesheim, pledged his oath of allegiance to both the sovereign of Jülich and the sovereign of Cologne,
Archbishop Gebhard I von Waldburg.
At the end of the 16th century the bailiwick became the imperial seat of power. In 1747, Johann Spies von
Büllesheim sold the castle to Karl Otto von Gymnich, placeing it in the possession of the Rhenish noble family
von und zu Gymnich. In 1794, the subordinate rule of Satzvey was lost and from then on only had the status of
a manor suitable for the state assembly. In 1882 the moated castle passed to the Imperial Count Dietrich
Wolff-Metternich after the Gymnich died out.
Prior to 1882, there had been no major structural changes at Satzvey Castle since the 16th century. Under Dietrich
Wolff-Metternich, extensive renovations and extensions were made the castle. Moats were drained, the castle
house was expanded with porches and extensions and new towers were built. Buildings in the style of English
stables were built on the former outer bailey, and an estate with farm buildings was added. The core and these
construction measures was the existing original structure from the early 15th century.
For centuries, the castle was largely spared from military destruction. However , it was badly damaged in the
Second World War. In 1942, Countess Adeline Wolff Metternich zur Gracht (1919-2010) took over the inheritance
after her brother Dietrich, died in the war. In 1944 she married Franz Josef Count Beissel von Gymnich zu Frens
(1916–2008), a younger branch of the von and zu Gymnich family. Satzvey Castle was passed to Count Beissel
von Gymnich. The young couple moved into the castle and repaired the most important components in the
following years. Their four sons were born here. The couple now live in Bad Münsteifel.
In 1977 the parents transferred the property to their eldest son, Count Franz Josef Beissel von Gymnich. In order
to be able to preserve the castle and to preserve the history and traditions of bygone eras, he decided to make the
complex accessible to the public and organized the historical knight festival there together with his wife Jeannette
and his daughter.
Satzvey Castle is a well-preserved moated castle. The original castle house, the two-tower gatehouse, the north
wall and the north tower are the oldest components. They have survived for 600 years and, together with the
construction work of the late 19th century, form a typical German moated castle. On 19 April 2020, the attached
castle bakery burned down. (Elke Lutterbach: Burg Satzvey guide, reference work and picture book ( knight castles.
Volume 2). JP Bachem-Verlag, Cologne 2005)
Satzvey Castle, main house.
Satzvey Castle, gate house.
(Alf van Beem Photo)
Braunfels Castle (Schloss Braunfels), Germany, is a stately home that had been built from a castle built in the
13th century by the Counts of Nassau. From c1260, the castle served as the Solms-Braunfels noble family's
residential castle. After Solms Castle was destroyed by the Rhenish League of Towns in 1384, Braunfels Castle
became the seat of the Counts of Solms. Over the castle's more than 750-year-long history, building work was
done many times. Particularly worthy of mention is the town and castle fire of 1679, which burnt much of Braunfels
and its stately seat down. Both were then built into a Baroque residence. Braunfels Castle was rebuilt out of
materials that were still on hand.
Schloss Braunfels as it appeared in 1655. Matthäus Merian.
(Ulrich Mayring Photo)
(I, ArtMechanic Photo, 22 June 2005)
(R. Wallenstein Photo, 29 Jan 2006)
Trifels Castle, Anweiler, Germany. First mentioned in documents dated 1081, this castle was designated as a
secure site for preserving the Imperial Regalia of the Hohenstaufen Emperors until they were moved to Walburg
Caste in Swabia in 1220. Richard the Lionheart, King of England was kept a prisoner here, after he was captured
by Duke Leopold V of Austria near Vienna in Dec 1192 as he was returning from the Third Crusade. He was
handed over to Emperor Henry VI of Hohenstaufen and his period of captivity from 31 March to 19 April 1193 is
well documented. Our family visited this castle often during our postings to Germany. Its a steep climb.
Schloßß Trifels, where Richard the Lionheart had been held prisoner, was one of many castles our family visited
over the years, and in fact, it was the very first for me on Saturday, 27 June 1959.
Hohentwiel Fortress (Festung Hohentwiel) is a castle ruin standing on top of Hohentwiel mountain (an extinct
volcano). It was built in 914 using stone taken from the mountain by Burchard II, Duke of Swabia. Originally,
the Monastery of St. Georg stood was within the fortress, but in 1005 it was moved to Stein am Rhein (now in
Switzlerland), and the Swabian dukes lost control of Hohentwiel. In the later Middle Ages the noble families
von Singen-Twiel (12th–13th centuries), von Klingen (to 1300) and von Klingenberg (to 1521) resided here. In
1521, it was passed on to Duke Ulrich von Württemberg, who developed Hohentwiel into one of the strongest
fortresses of his duchy. During this time, it began to be used as a prison, and in 1526, Hams Müller von Bulgenbach,
a peasant commander, was imprisoned there before he was executed.
The fortress resisted five Imperial sieges sieges in the Thirty Years' War, under the command of Konrad Widerholt
between 1634 and 1648. The effect was that Württemberg remained Protestant, while most of the surrounding areas
returned to Catholicism in the Counterreformation. The castle served as a Württemberg prison in the 18th century
and was destroyed in 1800 after being peacefully handed over by the French. Today the former fortress Hohentwiel
is the largest castle ruin in Germany. The modern city of Singen nestles at the foot of the mountain.
Hohentwiel, 1643, Merian illustration.
(Frank Vincentz Photo)
(Hansueli Krapf Photo)
Aerial view of Hohentwiel.
(Frank Vincentz Photo)
Siege of Hohentwiel, 1641.
Blockade of Hohentwiel, 1644.
Hohentwiel, ground plan, 1735.
(Peter Stein Photo)
Aerial view of Festung Hohentwiel.
(Heribert Pohl Photo)
Hohenneuffen Castle (Burg Hohenneufen) is a large hill fort now in ruins, standing above the town of Neuffen in
the district of Esslingen in Baden-Württemberg. The high medieval castle ruins are located east of Neuffen at 745.4 m
above sea level on fortress mountain , a white Jurassic rock on the edge of the Swabian Alb. The castle guards a
strategically favorable location on the Albantrauf.
The Hohenneuffen was already settled in ancient times. In the late Celtic La Tène period (450 to 1 BC) it served as
an outpost of the well-known Heidengraben -oppidum (Celtic fort c1 BC), which included the entire
"Erkenbrechtsweiler peninsula" of the Swabian Alb. The origin of the name (1206 Niffen ) is controversial. On the
one hand, it is traced back to a Celtic word * Nîpen and then interpreted as a " battle castle ". Another etymology
derives the name of the other hand Germanic * hnîpa meaning "steep slope, mountainside".
The castle was built between 1100 and 1120 by Mangold von Sulmetingen, who later called himself von Neuffen.
The first mention of the castel is found in a document dated 1198, indicating that at that time it was owned by the
noble free von Neuffen family, to which the minstrel Gottfried von Neifen belonged. At the end of the 13th century
the castle went to the Lords of Weinsberg, who sold it to the House of Württemberg in 1301. In 1312, the castle
proved its ability to defend itself in the internal conflicts of the Holy Roman Empire (the Imperial War),
demonstrating that it could not be taken.
The expansion of the Hohenneuffen into a state fortress began as early as the 15th century. The decisive building
measures for the fortified complex were not undertaken by Duke Ulrich until the middle of the 16th century. The
outer works, round towers, bastions, a commandant's office, casemates, stables the armoury and two cisterns were
built. The fotification thus created existed for two centuries without any major changes. In 1519, Hohenneufen
was forced to surrender to the Swabian Federation. In the German Peasant Wars in from 1524, it could not be taken
The Hohenneuffen was besieged for more than a year during the Thirty Years' War. In November, the fortress
commander, Captain Johann Philipp Schnurm, and the troubled crew decided to negotiate a surrender with the
enemy, which provided for a free withdrawal with weapons and all belongings. On 22 November 1635, Schnurm
handed the fortress over to the imperial troops after a 15-month siege. Contrary to the promises made, the team
was forced to serve in the imperial army, and Schnurm lost his property.
A legend, which does not correspond to the historical events, says the following: The people at the castle gave
their donkeys the last grain that they had left, slaughtered it and threw the filled stomach of the animal into the
camp of the enemy. Because they believed that the besieged still had enough supplies, they lost patience and
moved away. Since then, the donkey has been the “mascot” of the city of Neuffen.
The Württemberg Duke Karl Alexander planned to develop the Hohenneuffen into a fortress based on the French
model in the 18th century; but he died before completion. His successor Carl Eugen abandoned the plan in view
of the high costs and dubious military benefits. In 1793 plans were made to raze the fortress and the remains were
to be sold for use as building materials. These plans were approved, and from 1795 it was no longer used. It was
finally released for demolition in 1801, which began in 1803. The residents of the area were happy about having
access to cheap building material. It was not until 1830 that they began to secure the remains, and in the 1860s
the ruins were made accessible to the public. In 1862 a restaurant was set up in the building in the upper courtyard.
Like other fortresses, the Hohenneuffen served at times as a state prison, where important prisoners were arrested
and, if necessary, tortured. The fates of some are known. A young Count von Helfenstein, Friedrich, fell to his
death in 1502 while attempting to escape. In 1512 Duke Ulrich had the abbot of the Zwiefalten monastery, Georg
Fischer, detained here. The elderly Tübingen Vogt Konrad Breuning was also subjected to the prince's arbitrariness
in 1517 and was beheaded after imprisonment and torture in Stuttgart. In the 17th century, Mattäus Enzlin, Duke
Friedrich's Chancellor, suffered a similar fate. In 1737 Joseph Suss became Oppenheimer, the Jewish court factor
and personal financial advisor to Duke Karl Alexander. Joseph was imprisoned in the Hohenneuffen for a few
weeks before he was transferred to the Hohenasperg fortress and executed in 1738, as a victim of judicial murder
at the gates of Stuttgart.
During the Second World War, the Hohenneuffen was an air station. The military governments of the zones of
occupation founded the states of Württemberg-Baden in the American zone in 1945/46 and Württemberg-
Hohenzollern and Baden (although it only included the southern part of the country) in the French zone. When it
became clear in 1948 that a constitution was being drawn up for western Germany, some politicians took the
initiative; they wanted the countries in the south-west to merge. The head of government of Württemberg-Baden,
Reinhold Maier, invited the governments of the three countries to a conference on 2 August 1948, which took
place in the Hohenneuffen. He wanted to make a first approximation. A delegation led by Leo Wohleb, who was
an uncompromising advocate for the restoration of the state of Baden. Württemberg-Hohenzollern was represented
by its Interior Minister Viktor Renner. The delegations included ministers, party leaders, MPs and officials from the
The venue was chosen with care. The wide view of the country and, above all, the drastic zone boundary between
the districts of Reutlingen and Nürtingen, a few kilometers away, is impressive. Separated from their governments
and the public, the participants wanted to debate objectively, well served with valley wine . In the end, an agreement
did not come about, but the meeting had given impetus and important groundwork had been set. This three-country
conference which took place in the Hohenneuffen thus marks the beginning of the long-term dispute over the
formation of the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, which was launched in 1952. Today the Hohenneuffen
with its restaurant, beer garden and kiosk is a popular destination. Entry to the castle is free. The casemates, some of
which are accessible, are worth seeing .
The lighting of the outer walls on Sundays and public holidays is also very impressive. The facility, originally
donated by the Neuffen citizen Otto Krieg in the 1950s, was completely renovated in 1984 by the Stadt- und
Kulturring Neuffen eV and is also maintained by the latter. (Walter Bär: The Neuffen, history and stories about the
Hohenneuffen. Published by the city of Neuffen, 1992)
(ufo 709 Photo)
Aerial view of Hohenneufen.
(Swabian Tourismusverband Photo)
Aerial view of Hohenneufen.
Aerial view of Hohenneufen.
(Aerial video capture Photo)
Aerial view of Hohenneufen.
The Heidengraben was a Celtic oppidum (a fortified, urban-like settlement from the La Tène period - late Iron Age). that dates to the 1st century BC. It was located on the Swasbian Alb near Grabenstetten. The remains of the fortification of the oppidum are still visible as a rampart. The oppidum had an outer and an inner ring of fortifications, inside the latter was the settlement called Elsachstadt (after the Elsach brook, which rises below the oppidum in the Falkensteiner cave).
The oppidum is located on the Grabenstetten peninsula , a part of the Alb plateau that is only connected to the rest of the Alb plateau by a narrow strip south of Grabenstetten, so that the Alb is a natural fortification. This location made it possible to enclose an area of around 16.6 km² by building four short fortifications. These fortifications separated the present day area of the municipality of Hülben, the Burgwald area between Beurener Fels and Brucker Fels , the connection to the rest of the Alb plateau and the Lauereck area bordering the inner fortification in the south. The Elsachstadt settlement had an area of 1.53 km² and was located west of the present day municipality of Grabenstetten.
Apparently the Grabenstetten peninsula was settled a few centuries before the oppidum was established. There are graves from around 1000 BC near today's Burrenhof. Some of the burial mounds that can still be seen date from c500 BC. This may have been the locationof Riusiava, indicatged in the ancient atlas of Ptolemy. Scientific excavations are continuing. The Heidengraben played a major role in the so-called Celtic concept of the state of Baden-Württemberg. (The Heidengraben - A Celtic oppidum in the Swabian Alb . Theiss Verlag, 2012)
The tree-covered wall is a remnant of the inner fortification ring on the northern edge of Elsachstadt.
Course of the Heidengraben.
Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany. Oil on canvas, 18 X 24.
(Cezary Piwowarski Photo, 1 June 2007)
Neuschwanstein Castle (Schloss Neuschwanstein) is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill
above the village of Hohenschwangau, near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned
by King Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and in honour of Richard Wagner. Ludwig paid for the palace out of his
personal fortune and by means of extensive borrowing, rather than Bavarian public funds. The castle was intended
as a home for the King, until he died in 1886. It was open to the public shortly after his death. Since then more
than 61 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with as many as 6,000 per day in the summer.
The municipality of Schwangau stands at an elevation of 800 m (2,620 ft) at the southwest border of the German
state of Bavaria. Its surroundings are characterised by the transition between the Alpine foothillss in the south
(toward the nearby Austrian border) and a hilly landscape in the north that appears flat by comparison. In the
Middle Ages, three castles overlooked the villages. One was called Schwanstein Castle. In 1832, Ludwig's father
King Maximilian II of Bavaria bought its ruins to replace them with the comfortable neo-Gothic palace known
as Hohenschwangau Castle. Finished in 1837, the palace became his family's summer residence, and his elder
son Ludwig (born 1845) spent a large part of his childhood here.
Vorderhohenschwangau Castle and Hinterhohenschwangau Castle sat on a rugged hill overlooking Schwanstein
Castle, two nearby lakes (Alpsee and Schwansee), and the village. Separated by only a moat, they jointly consisted
of a hall, a keep, and a fortified tower house. In the nineteenth century only ruins remained of the twin medieval
castles, but those of Hinterhohenschwangau served as a lookout place known as Sylphenturm.
The ruins above the family palace were known to the crown prince from his excursions. He first sketched one of
them in his diary in 1859. When the young king came to power in 1864, the construction of a new palace in place
of the two ruined castles became the first in his series of palace building projects. Ludwig called the new palace
New Hohenschwangau Castle; only after his death was it renamed Neuschwanstein. The confusing result is that
Hohenschwangau and Schwanstein have effectively swapped names: Hohenschwangau Castle replaced the ruins
of Schwanstein Castle, and Neuschwanstein Castle replaced the ruins of the two Hohenschwangau Castles.
In a letter to Richard Wagner, Ludwig wrote,
"It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style
of the old German knights' castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there
one day [...]; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful
to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true
blessing to the world. It will also remind you of "Tannhäuser" (Singers' Hall with a view of the castle in the
background), "Lohengrin'" (castle courtyard, open corridor, path to the chapel) ..."
— Ludwig II, Letter to Richard Wagner, May 1868
The building design was drafted by the stage designer Christian Jank, and realised by the architect Eduard Riedel.
For technical reasons, the ruined castles could not be integrated into the plan. The king insisted on a detailed plan
and on personal approval of each and every draft. The palace can be regarded as typical for nineteenth-century
architecture. The shapes of Romanesque (simple geometric figures such as cuboids and semicircular arches),
Gothic (upward-pointing lines, slim towers, delicate embellishments) and Byzantine architecture and art (the
Throne Hall décor) were mingled in an eclectic fashion and supplemented with 19th-century technical achievements.
The palace was primarily built in Romanesque style.
In 1868, the ruins of the medieval twin castles were completely demolished and the remains of the old keep were
blown up. The foundation stone for the palace was laid on 5 September 1869; in 1872 its cellar was completed and
in 1876, everything up to the first floor, the gatehouse being finished first. At the end of 1882 it was completed
and fully furnished, allowing Ludwig to take provisional lodgings there and observe the ongoing construction work.
In 1874, management of the civil works passed from Eduard Riedel to Georg von Dollmann. The topping out
ceremony for the Palas was in 1880, and in 1884, the King was able to move in to the new building. In the same
year, the direction of the project passed to Julius Hofmann, after Dollmann had fallen from the King's favour. The
palace was erected as a conventional brick construction and later encased in various types of rock. The white
limestone used for the fronts came from a nearby quarry.
The sandstone bricks for the portals and bay windows came from Schlaitdorf in Württemberg. Marble from
Untersberg near Salzberg was used for the windows, the arch ribs, the columns and the capitals. The Throne
Hall was a later addition to the plans and required a steel framework. The transport of building materials was
facilitated by scaffolding and a steam crane that lifted the material to the construction site. Another crane was
used at the construction site. The recently founded Dampfkessel-Revisionsverein (Steam Boiler Inspection
Association) regularly inspected both boilers.
For about two decades the construction site was the principal employer in the region. In 1880, about 200 craftsmen
were occupied at the site, not counting suppliers and other persons indirectly involved in the construction. At times
when the King insisted on particularly close deadlines and urgent changes, reportedly up to 300 workers per day
were active, sometimes working at night by the light of oil lamps. Statistics from the years 1879/1880 support an
immense amount of building materials: 465 tonnes (513 short tons) of Salzburg marble, 1,550 t (1,710 short tons)
of sandstone, 400,000 bricks and 2,050 cubic metres (2,680 cu yd) of wood for the scaffolding. In 1870, a society
was founded for insuring the workers, for a low monthly fee, augmented by the King. The heirs of construction
casualties (30 cases are mentioned in the statistics) received a small pension.
In 1884, the King was able to move into the (still unfinished) Palas, and in 1885, he invited his mother Marie to
Neuschwanstein on the occasion of her 60th birthday. By 1886, the external structure of the Palas (hall) was mostly
finished. In the same year, Ludwig had the first, wooden Marienbrücke over the Pöllat Gorge replaced by a steel
Despite its size, Neuschwanstein did not have space for the royal court, but contained only the King's private
lodging and servants' rooms. The court buildings served decorative, rather than residential purposes: The palace
was intended to serve King Ludwig II as a kind of inhabitable theatrical setting. As a temple of friendship it was
also dedicated to the life and work of Richard Wagner, who died in 1883 before he had set foot in the building.
In the end, Ludwig II lived in the palace for a total of only 172 days.
Neuschwanstein, the symbolic medieval knight's castle, was not King Ludwig II's only huge construction project.
It was followed by the rococo style Lustschloss of Linderhof Palace and the baroque palace of Herrenchiemsee, a
monument to the era of absolutism. Linderhof, the smallest of the projects, was finished in 1886, and the other two
remain incomplete. All three projects together drained his resources. The King paid for his construction projects by
private means and from his civil list income. Contrary to frequent claims, the Bavarian treasury was not directly
burdened by his buildings. From 1871, Ludwig had an additional secret income in return for a political favour given
to Otto von Bismarck.
Neuschwanstein was still incomplete when Ludwig II died in 1886. The King never intended to make the palace
accessible to the public. No more than six weeks after the King's death, however, the Prince-Regent Luitpold,
ordered the palace opened to paying visitors. The administrators of King Ludwig's estate managed to balance the
construction debts by 1899. From then until the First World War, Neuschwanstein was a stable and lucrative source
of revenue for the House of Wittelsbach, indeed King Ludwig's castles were probably the single largest income s
ource earned by the Bavarian royal family in the last years prior to 1914. To guarantee a smooth course of visits,
some rooms and the court buildings were finished first. Initially the visitors were allowed to move freely in the
palace, causing the furniture to wear quickly.
When Bavaria became a republic in 1918, the government socialised the civil list. The resulting dispute with the
House of Wittelsbach led to a split in 1923: King Ludwig's palaces including Neuschwanstein fell to the state and
are now managed by the Bavarian Palace Department, a division of the Bavarian finance ministry. Nearby
Hohenschwangau Castle fell to the Wittelsbacher Ausgleichsfonds, whose revenues go to the House of Wittelsbach.
The visitor numbers continued to rise, reaching 200,000 in 1939.
Due to its secluded location, the palace survived the destruction of two World Wars. Until 1944, it served as a
depot for Nazi pluner that was taken from France by the Reichsleiter Rosenberg Institute for the Occupied Territories
(Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg für die besetzten Gebiete), a suborganisation of the Nazi Party. The castle
was used to catalogue the works of arts. After the end of the Second World War, 39 photo albums were found in
the palace documenting the scale of the art seizures. The albums are now stored in the United States National Archives.
In April 1945, the SS considered blowing up the palace to prevent the building itself and the artwork it contained f
rom falling to the enemy. The plan was not carried out, and at the end of the war the palace was surrendered
undamaged to representatives of the Allied forces. Thereafter the Bavarian archives used some of the rooms as a
provisional store for salvaged archivalia, as the premises in Munich had been bombed. (Ammon, Thomas (2007),
Ludwig II. für Dummies: Der Märchenkönig—Zwischen Wahn, Wagner und Neuschwanstein, Wiley-VCH)
Interior court of Neuschwanstein castle.
(Woffka rus Photo)
Hohenschwangau Castle is located directly across from Neuschwanstein Castle above the village of
Hohenschwangau in the municipality Schwangau in Fussen, Bavaria. A "Castrum Swangowe" was first mentioned
in a document in 1090. This referred to a pair castles, the Vorder and Hinterschwangau, the ruins of which stood
on the site until Neuschwanstein was built. The Lords of Schwangau lived on this double castle as ministerials of
the Welfs. When Welf VI died in 1191 the Guelph property in Swabia fell to the Staufer family. After the death
of Konradin in 1268, the land went to the empire. The Knights of Schwangau then continued to rule over it as an
imperial fied until they in turn died out in 1536.
When Duke Rudolf IV of Austria brought Tyrol under Habsburg rule in 1363, Stephan von Schwangau and his
brothers committed their fortresses Vorder and Hinterschwangau to his rule, along with the Frauenstein Castle.
They also promised to keep the Sinwellenurn open to the Austrian duke. A document from 1397 mentions the
Schwanstein, today's Hohenschwangau Castle, for the first time. It was less fortified but easier to reach, and was
built below the older double castle on a hill above the Alpsee.
After Ulrich von Schwangau had divided his rule over his four sons in 1428, the once proud family of the Lords of
Schwangau experienced a steady downward trend. Mismanagement and inheritance disputes led Georg von
Schwangau to sell his inheritance, the Hohenschwangau castles and the Frauenstein, in 1440 to Duke Albrecht III.
It was later sold to Bayern-Munich, although the Schwangau residents remained on site, maintaining the castle for
the Dukes of Bavaria. In 1521 the two brothers Heinrich and Georg von Schwangau were again enfeoffed with
their property by Emperor Charles V at the Reichstag in Worms, but in 1535 they were forced to sell it to the
Imperial Councilor Wolf for 35,000 florins. Both brothers died in 1536, the last of their line.
Johann Paumgartner was adviser and financier of the emperor Charles V, who ennobled him to imperial baron in
1537, after which he called himself Paumgartner von Hohenschwangau zum Schwanstein. He had the neglected
Schwanstein Castle restored by Italian craftsmen as the center of his new rule, while Vorder and
Hinterhohenschwangau and Frauenstein continued to fall into disrepair. The architect Lucio di Spazzi, who
worked at the Innsbruck Hofburg, used the existing building fabric, kept the outer walls with crenellated crowns
and towers, but redesigned the interior for contemporary living requirements, creating the current floor plan with
the regular grouping of three suites of rooms on both sides of a continuous central fleece, which is identical on all
floors. He put a ring of bastions around the residential building. In 1547 the construction work was completed.
In 1549 Paumgartner died and the rule fell to his two sons David and Georg, who got into debt. In 1561 David
Paumgartner pledged the imperial rule to Margrave Georg-Friedrich of Brandenburg-Ansbach-Kulmbach, who
sold it to Duke Albrecht V of Bavaria in 1567. The sale also brought with it the claims of Paumgartner's creditors
and as a result, the castle was enfeoffed with Hohenschwangau under imperial law. In 1604 Duke Max I of
Bavaria was alloted the entitlement to the imperial fiefs associated with Hohenschwangau. In 1670 the castle
went to Elector Ferdinand Maria of Bavaria.
The castle went to the later sons of the Wittelsbach electors. Whe the Thirty Years' War, came, the castle began
to fall into disrepair again. In 1743, during the War of the Austrian Succession, it was plundered by the Austrians.
It was later repaired by the court building department as the seat of the nursing court. After the new office building
was built in 1786, it fell into disrepair again. It was not until 1803 that the Hohenschwangau Reichslehen was
incorporated into the Electorate of Bavaria through the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss, which rose to become the
Kingdom of Bavaria in 1805. During the coalition wars, from 1800 to 1809, the castle came under a brief but
unsuccessful bombardment and siege by the French. Later, the castle was used as a barracks for French and Austrian
troops. In 1820, under King Maximilian I, the castle was sold for demolition for 200 guilders. Prince Ludwig
von Oettingen-Wallerstein, whose family had owned the Sankt Mang monastery in nearby Füssen since 1802,
heard of the intended destruction in 1821 and bought the castle for 225 guilders to save it. He was enthusiastic
about the location of the castle, situated in its charming landscape. The prince had repairs carried out on the castle,
but sold it in 1823. Johann Adolph Sommer, the next owner, intended to set up a flax spinning mill in the castle,
but this did not happen.
King Ludwig I gave his son, Crown Prince Maximilian, the Hohenfüssen Castle, which had been the former
summer residence of the Augsburg bishops. After visiting Füssen in 1829 the Crown Prince Hohenfüssen and,
after three years of purchase negotiations, acquired Schwanstein Castle in 1832, which he re-named Hohenschwangau
Castle. Crown Prince Max had the palace rebuilt in neo-Gothic style up to 1837. In 1842 the Crown Prince married Princess Marie of Prussia, whereupon new rooms and outbuildings were furnished. Almost at the same time as
the renovation of Hohenschwangau, from 1836 to 1842, Marie's cousin, the Crown Prince and, since 1840, Prussian
King Friedrich Wilhem IV, rebuilt Stolzenfels Castle on the Rhine again in a similar style.
In 1848 Max ascended the throne as Maximilian II. At that time, new wings were built for the court, including the
cavalier's building in 1855. The palace served the royal family as a summer residence and was the nursery two of
the king's sons, the later kings Ludwig II and Otto. Ludwig II frequently used the palace, including during the
construction of Neuschwanstein Castle from 1869 to 1884, which was officially named Neue Burg Hohenschwangau
until 1886. Ludwig II did not change anything in Hohenschwangau except his own bedroom, in which he had a
display of rocks built in 1864, over which a waterfall flowed, as well as an apparatus for generating an artificial
rainbow and a night sky with moon and stars, which is visible from the upper floor through a complicated system
of mirrors were illuminated from. After Ludwig's death in 1886, Queen Marie had the room restored to its original
condition. She died almost three years after the death of her son in 1889 at Hohenschwangau Castle.
From 1923 until the present, the castle has belonged to the Wittelsbach Compensation Fund and is used as a museum.
It is still occasionally used by members of the Wittelsbach family on special occasions. Prince Adalbert of Bavaria
retired to Hohenschwangau Castle in 1941 after he had left the Wehrmacht.
Hohenschwangau Castle was built into the partially preserved outer walls of Schwanstein Castle from the 14th
century between 1537 and 1547. The four-storey complex of the main building, which was redesigned in a
neo-Gothic style both inside and out from 1833–1837, with a yellow facade, has three round towers with polygonal
superstructures, the gate building is three-stories high. The main building houses a museum. The interior furnishings
from the Biedermeier period, have been preserved unchanged. The rooms are still furnished with the furnishings
from the restoration period. (Marcus Spangenberg / Bernhard Lübbers (eds.): Dream castles? The buildings of
Ludwig II as tourism and advertising objects. Dr. Peter Morsbach, Regensburg 2015)
Linderhof Palace (Schloss Linderhof) is a palace, in southwest Bavaria near the village of Ettal. It is the smallest
of the three palaces built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria and the only one which he lived to see completed.
Ludwig already knew the area around Linderhof from his youth when he had accompanied his father King
Maximilian II of Bavaria on his hunting trips in the Bavarian Alps. When Ludwig II became King in 1864, he
inherited the so-called Königshäuschen from his father, and in 1869 began enlarging the building. In 1874, he
decided to tear down the Königshäuschen and rebuild it on its present-day location in the park. At the same time
three new rooms and the staircase were added to the remaining U-shaped complex, and the previous wooden
exterior was clad with stone façades. The building was designed in the style of the second rococo-period. Between
1863 and 1886, a total of 8,460,937 marks was spent constructing Linderhof.
(Guido Radig Photo)
Herrenchiemsee is a complex of royal buildings on Herreninsel, the largest island in the Chiemsee lake, in southern
Bavaria. Together with the neighbouring isle of Frauenchiemsee and the uninhabited Krautinsel, it forms the
municipality of Chiemsee, located about 60 kilometres (37 mi) southeast of Munich.
The island, formerly the site of an Augustinian monastery, was purchased by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in 1873.
The king had the premises converted into a residence, known as the Old Palace (Altes Schloss). From 1878 onwards,
he had the New Herrenchiemsee Palace (Neues Schloss) erected, based on the model of Versailles. It was the largest,
but also the last of his building projects, and remained incomplete. Today it is maintained by the Bavarian
Administration of State-Owned palaces, Gardens and Lakes. Herrenchiemsee is accessible to the public and is a
major tourist attraction.
Schloss Lichtenstein, Germany. Oil on canvas, 8 X 10.
(Donald Photo, 4 May 2010)
Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein) is a privately-owned Gothic Revival castle located on an escarpment
that marks the northwestern edge of the Swabian Jura of southern Germany. It was designed by Carl Alexander
Heideloff and its name means "shining stone" or "bright stone". The castle overlooks the Echaz valley near Honau,
Reutlingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg, and stands at an altitude of 817 metres (2,680 feet). The modern
castle was inspired by the novel Lichtenstein (1826) by Wilhelm Hauff and was built in 1840–1842. The ruins of
Lichtenstein Castle's medieval predecessor, the Burg Alt-Lichtenstein, lies 500 metres (1,600 feet) away.
Beginning around 1100, a castle belonging to a family of ministerials of the counts of Achalm and later Counts of
Württemberg, was located on the escarpment above the source of the river Echaz. The castle and its denizens, the
lords of Lichtenstein, were not friendly with the Free ImperialCity of Reutlinger and were thus under frequent attack.
The old castle was destroyed twice, once during the imperial civil war of 1311 and again by the citizens of Reutlingen
sometime between 1377 and 1381. A new castle was built in 1390 some 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the ruins of the
old one. The site selected was the same as that of the current structure. It was one of the most impressive
fortifications of the Late Middle Ages. Despite such features as early casemates that made it nearly unassailable,
the castle ceased to be the ducal seat in 1567 and fell into disrepair. During the Thirty Years's War (1618–48), it
was taken over by the Tyrolean line of the Habsburgs following the death of the last member of the Lichtenstein
family in 1687 during the Great Turkish War. The coat of arms of their family, a pair of golden angel wings on a
blue background, is still displayed in the Great Hall of the castle.
In 1802, King Frederick I of Württemberg came into possession of the castle, dismantled it to its foundations and
replaced it with a hunting lodge. Construction of the New Lichtenstein Castle began in 1840. The architect used
the ancient foundations of the castle of 1390, and stood up to three stories tall, with a curtain wall and courtyard
to complete the castle complex. A barbican and a sprawling outer bailey, complete with corner bastions and turrets,
was constructed in 1857. The castle was completed in 1842, and the king was present for its inauguration ceremony.
In 1869, it became the official residence of the dukes of Urach.
After the Revolution of 1848, then-Count Wilhelm became the first Duke of Urach. A dedicated artillery officer, he
decided to improve the defenses of his castle and so began to build pre-outwork caponiers in the style of the imperial
Fortress of Ulm (though not on as grand a scale) and a trench along the fortress to deter attack. Later he had cannons
placed in the bastions on the walls. From 1898 to 1901 the two buildings left of the main gate, the Ducal Palace
and the old groundskeepers house, were constructed and expanded respectively.
The castle was damaged during the Second World War, but efforts to restore it began in the immediate aftermath
of the war. Once again, and thanks to local non-profit organizations like the Wüstenrot Foundation and the
Community Fund for the Preservation of Lichtenstein Castle, the walls were restored in 1980, followed by the
second floor in 1998. The upper floor and roof were restored in 2002. (Bizer, Christoph (2006). Oberflächenfunde
von Burgen der Schwäbischen Alb – Ein Beitrag zur Keramik- und Burgenforschung. Stuttgart: Konrad Theiss Verlag)
(Andre Karwath Photo)
Schloss Lichtenstein, out bailey structure.
Aerial view of Schloss Lichtenstein.
Haut Koenigsburg, Alsace, France. Oil on canvas, 18 X 24.
(Meffo Photo, 20 Mar 2010)
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg is a medieval castle located in the commune of Orschwiller in the Bas-Rhin
départment of Alsace. It is located in the Vosges mountains just west of Sélestat, situated in a strategic area on a
rocky spur overlooking the Upper Rhine Plain. It was used by successive powers from the Middle Ages until the
Thirty Years' War, when it was abandoned. From 1900 to 1908 it was rebuilt at the behest of the German Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Today it is a major tourist site, attracting more than 500,000 visitors a year.
The Buntsandstein cliff was first mentioned as Stofenberk (Staufenberg) in a 774 deed issued by the Frankish
King Charlemagne. Mentioned again in 854, it was at that time a possession of the French Basilica of St. Denis,
and the site of a monastery. It is not known when the first castle was built on this site, but a Burg Staufen (Castrum
Estufin) is documented in 1147, when the monks complained to King Louis VII of France about its unlawful
construction by the Hohenstaufen Duke Frederick of Swabia. Frederick's younger brother Conrad III, had been
elected King of the Romans in 1138. He was succeeded by Frederick's son Frederick Barbarossa in 1152, and by
1192 the castle was called Kinzburg (Königsburg, "King's Castle").
In the early thirteenth century, the fortification passed from the Hohenstaufen family to the dukes of Lorraine,
who entrusted it to the local Rathsamhausen knightly family and the Lords of Hohenstein, who held the castle
until the fifteenth century. As the Hohensteins allowed some robber barons to use the castle as a hideout, and
their behaviour began to exasperate the neighbouring rulers, in 1454 it was occupied by Elector Palatine Frederick I.
In 1462, the castle was set ablaze by the unified forces of the cities of Colmar, Strasbourg and Basel.
In 1479, the Habsburg Emperor Frederick III granted the castle ruins in fief to the Counts of Thierstein, who
rebuilt them with a defensive system suited to the new artillery of the time. When in 1517 the last Thierstein
died, the castle became a reverted fief and again came into the possession of the Habsburg emperor of the day,
Maximilian I. In 1633, during the Thirty Years' War, in which Catholics forces fought Protestants, the Imperial
castle was besieged by Protestant Swedish forces. After a 52-day siege, the castle was burned and looted by the
Swedish troops. For several hundred years it was left unused, and the ruins became overgrown by the forest.
Various romantic poets and artists were inspired by the castle during this time.
The ruins had been listed as a "monument historique" of the Second French Empire since 1862 and were
purchased by the township of Sélestat (or Schlettstadt) three years later. After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870
to 1871, the region was incorporated into the German Imperial Territory of Alsace-Lorraine, and in 1899 the
citizens granted what was left of the castle to the German Emperor Wilhelm II. Wilhelm wished to create a castle
lauding the qualities of Alsace in the Middle Ages and more generally of German civilization stretching from
Hohkönigsburg in the west to (likewise restored) Marienburg Castle in the east. He also hoped the restoration
would reinforce the bond of Alsatians with Germany, as they had only recently been incorporated into the newly
established German Empire. The management of the restoration of the fortifications was entrusted to the architect
Bodo Ebhart, a proven expert on the reconstruction of medieval castles. Work proceeded from 1900 to 1908. On
13 May 1908, the restored Hohkönigsburg was inaugurated in the presence of the Emperor. In an elaborate
re-enactment ceremony, a historic cortege entered the castle, under a torrential downpour.
Ebhart's aim was to rebuild it, as near as possible, to the way it was on the eve of the Thirty Years' War. He relied
heavily on historical accounts but, occasionally lacking information, he had to improvise some parts of the stronghold.
For example, the Keep tower is now reckoned to be about 14 metres too tall. Wilhelm II, who regularly visited the
construction site via a specially built train station in nearby Saint-Hippolyte, also encouraged certain modifications
that emphasised a Romantic nostalgia for Germanic civilization. For example, the main dining hall has a higher
roof than it did at the time, and links between the Hohenzollern family and the Habsburg rulers of the Holy Roman
Empire are emphasized. The Emperor wanted to legitimise the House of Hohenzollern at the head of the Second
Empire, and to assure himself as worthy heir of the Hohenstaufens and the Habsburgs.
After the end of the First World War, the French state confiscated the castle in accordance with the 1919 Treaty of
Versailles. It has been listed since 1862 and classified since 1993 as a "monument historique", by the French
Ministry of Culture. In 2007, ownership was transferred to the Bas-Rhin département.Today, it is one of the most
famous tourist attractions in the region. Bodo Ebhardt restored the castle following a close study of the remaining
walls, archives and other fortified castles built at the same period.
Plan view of Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg.
Aerial view of the Haut-Koenigsburg castle, Alsace, France; in the background, La Vancelle.
(Fr Antunes Photo)
Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, view looking East.
(Tobi 87 Photo, 6 June 2009)
Marksburg is a castle above the town of Braubach in Rhineland-Palatinate. It is one of the principal sites of the
Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site. The fortress was used for protection rather than as a residence for
royal families. It has a striking example of a bergfried designed as a butter-churn tower. Of the 40 hill castles
between Bingen am Rhein and Koblenz the Marksburg was one of only two which had never been destroyed (the
other being Maus Castle) and the only one that had never fallen into ruin.
A stone keep was built on the spot in 1100 by the Eppstein family and expanded into a castle c1117 to protect the
town of Braubach and to reinforce the customs facilities. It was first mentioned in documents in 1231. The
Eppsteins were a powerful family in the region, with several members becoming archbishops in Mainz and Trier.
In 1283, Count Eberhard of Katzenelmbogen bought it and throughout the 14th and 15th century the high noble
counts rebuilt the castle constantly. In 1429 the male line of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen died out, and the
territories went to the Count of Hesse, who expanded the castle to accommodate artillery and added the round
towers of the outer curtain wall.
The French emperor Napoleon seized then abolished the Holy Roman Empire in 1806. He gave the Marksburg to
his ally the Duke of Nassau for his service. The Duke used the castle as a prison and as a home for disabled soldiers.
After the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 the Duchy of Nassau became a territory of Prussia, which took ownership
of the Marksburg.
In 1900, the castle was sold for a symbolic price of 1,000 Goldmarks to the German Castles Associatioin (Deutschen
Burgenvereinigung), which had been founded a year earlier as a private initiative to preserve castles in Germany.
The Marksburg has been the head office of this organisation since 1931. In March 1945, the castle was badly
damaged by American artillery from across the Rhine. (de Fabianis, Valeria, ed. (2013). Castles of the World.
New York: Metro Books)
I felt that this specific castle would make a good cover for my book about sieges.
(I, Manfred Hyde Photo, 22 Apr 2007)
Rheinstein Castle (Burg Rheinstein) stands near the town of Trechtingshausen in Rhineland-Palatinate. The castle
was built c1316/1317. Rheinstein Castle was important for its strategic location. By 1344, the castle was in decline.
By the time of the Palatine War of Succession, the castle was very dilapidated. During the romantic period in the
19th century, Prince Frederick of Prussia (1794-1863) bought the castle and it was rebuilt.
Burg Rheinstein possesses a working drawbridge and porticullis, which are typical of medieval castle architecture
and defences. The castle is open to the public. Just past the gift shop near the entrance is an opening on the left
to the courtyard, which has views of the Rhine. Rheinstein's courtyard is known as the Burgundy Garden after the
Burgundy grape vine growing there. The vine, which is approximately 500 years old, still produces grapes.
From the garden, steps lead down to the castle chapel. In the centre of the Gothic altar piece of the chapel there is
a woodcarving depicting Jesu at the Last Supper. Between the rock and chapel, additional steps lead down to the
royal crypt of Prince Frederick William Louis's family.
Heading upwards to the Burgundy Garden, another set of steps lead to the main part of the castle. The largest and
most impressive room at Rheinstein Castle is located at the top of the stairway to the left once inside the castle.
Known as the Rittersaal or Knight's Hall, it includes beautiful stained glass windows, as well as three-dimensional
paintings. Rheinstein houses a cafe and gift shop offering miniature handmade wooden treasure chests, as well as
traditional items including postcards and guidebooks for purchase.
From the 14th–17th centuries, the castle was granted as a fief by the archbishops of Mainz. The castle was rebuilt
between 1825 and 1829 under the leadership of the famous castle builder, Claudius Lassaulx, who was succeeded
in 1827 by his pupil, Wilhelm Kuhn, who completed the building. Prince Frederick named the castle "Rheinstein"
because of its impressive cliffs directly above the river. In 1842, Rheinstein Castle became the favorite residence
of Prince Frederick. Many crowned heads of state of that time were guests at the castle, such as Queen Victoria, Empress Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia and many others. Prince Frederick had the Wiesbaden architect, Ph.
Hoffmann, draw up a plan for a chapel and crypt. Just two years later, the neo-Gothic chapel and crypt for the royal
family was formally opened. In 1863, after the death of the prince, his son, Prince George of Prussia, inherited
In 1902, Prince Henry of Prussia, a brother of Kaiser William II inherited the castle. In 1929, the wife of Prince
Henry, Irene of Hesse and by Rhine became the new owner. In 1953, the last owner of the German nobility is
Princess Barbara of Prussia, the Duchess of Mecklenburg. In 1975, the castle went into the private possession of
the Hecher family. In the 1980s, the castle was handed down to the Rhine Family, but they donated it to the
government to be used as a museum. (Joachim Glatz: Trechtingshausen. Burg Rheinstein. 4. Auflage. Schnell &
Steiner, Regensburg 2013. (Kleine Kunstführer Nr. 2538.)
(Axel Hindemith Photo)
(Steffen Schmitz Photo, 11 Aug 2012)
Cochem is the seat of and the biggest town in the Cochem-Zell district in Rhineland-Palatinate. With just over 5,000
inhabitants, Cochem is Germany's second smallest district seat. Since 7 June 2009, it has belonged to the
Verbandsgemeinde of Cochem.
Construction of the former Cochem Imperial castle was possibly begun in the 10th century or about 1020, expanded
in 1051 and in the earlier half of the 14th century. The Reichsburg Cochem had its first documentary mention in
1130. In 1151, it was occupied by King Konrad IIII, who declared it an Imperial castle. Its medieval keep dates
from the earlier half of the 11th century and its surrounding fortifications date from the 14th centry. In 1688, the
castle was overrun by French King Louis XIV's troops in the course of the Nine Years' War (known in Germany
as the Pfälzischer Erbfolgekrieg, or War of the Palatine Succession), and the following year, they destroyed it.
The castle complex lay in ruins for a long period, it was bought in 1868 by the Berlin businessman Louis Fréderic
Jacques Ravené for 300 Goldmark and then reconstructed in the Gothic Revival style between 1874 and 1877.
Since 1978 it has been owned by the town of Cochem and is administered by a company named Reichsburg GmbH.
Cochem lies at an elevation of some 83 m above sea level and the municipal area measures 21.2 km2. The town
centre with the outlying centre of Sehl upstream lies on the Moselle's left bank, while the constituent centre of
Cond lies on its right. A further constituent centre, Brauheck, with its commercial area, air force barracks and new
town development, lies in the heights of the Eifel on Bundesstrasse 259, some 2 km (1 mi) from the town centre.
Emptying into the Moselle in Cochem are the Kraklebach, the Ebernacher Bach, the Sehlerbach, the Falzbach, the
Märtscheltbach and the Enthetbach.
Cochem was settled as early as Celtic and Roman times. In 886, it had its first documentary mention as Villa
cuchema. Other names yielded by history are Cuhckeme and Chuckeme in 893, Cochemo in 1051, Chuchumo in
1056, Kuchema in 1130, Cuchemo in 1136, Cocheme in 1144, then Cuchme, and into the 18th century Cochheim
or Cocheim. Cochem was an Imperial estate. It was pledged by King Adolf of Nassau in 1294 to the Archbisopric
of Trier, and remained Electoral-Trier territory until the French occupation began in 1794. The town of Cochem
and its castle were held by the Archbishops of Trier beginning in 1298.
In 1332, Cochem was granted town rights, and shortly thereafter, the town fortifications, which still stand today,
were built. Between 1423 and 1425, the town was stricken with a Plague epidemic. In 1623, Elector Lothar von
Metternich brought about the founding of a Capuchin monastery. In the Thirty Years' War, the town was besieged,
but not conquered. In 1689, King Louis XIV's troops burnt the Winneburg (castle), and then conquered the town
of Cochem and its castle as well. Reconstruction was long and drawn out. Beginning in 1794, Cochem came
under French rule. In 1815, it was assigned to the Kingdom of Prussia at the Congress of Vienna.
Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené bought the ruin of the former Imperial castle in 1866 and began its reconstruction.
Only after a bridge was built across the Moselle at Cochem in 1927 were the two fishing villages of Cond and Sehl amalgamated with the town in the course of administrative reform in 1932. This bridge, called the "Skagerrak
Bridge", was dedicated on 23 January 1927. During the Second World War, great parts of Cochem's old town were
destroyed. Also during the war, the operations staff of the underground subcamp of Zeisig of the Natzweiler
concentration camp between the villages of Bruttig and Treis was located here. At its height, 13,000 people
were imprisoned there. They provided slave labour under brutal conditions, for Bosch, which made spark plugs,
ignition systems, and glow plugs, which were important to the German war effort. Since 1946, Cochem has been
part of the then newly founded state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
(Edgar El Photo, 16 Aug 2013)
Cochem Reichsburg castle on the Mosel River, Germany.
(Johannes Robalotoff Photo)
Burg Eppstein is a castle ruin standing on a hill 200 m above sea level above the Hessian town of Eppstein in the
Main-Taunus district. It was built on a rocky spur of a mountain ridge and separated from the ridge by a neck ditch.
It was the main residence of the Lords of Eppstein, who named themselves after their ancestral castle. By the
beginning of the 14th century, a settlement had formed at the foot of the castle, which was granted city rights in
1318. The present-day town of Eppstein grew out of it. Architectural archaeological investigations carried out in
the area around the palace show that the castle was founded in the 10th century. It was built as an imperial castle to
secure the border and was first mentioned in a document in 1122. Only two years after it was first mentioned,
Emperor Heinrich V donated one half of the castle to the Archbishopric of Mainz, which shortly afterwards was
able to bring the other half into its possession.
At the end of the 12th century the castle came to the Lords of Hainshause as a fief. From then on, they called
themselves Herren von Eppstein after their new residence and made the complex the center of their territory. After
the Eppstein family split into two lines, the facility was owned by the Eppstein- Münzenberg line from 1433. As
early as 1492, the Lords of Eppstein had to sell the western half of the castle to the Landgraviate of Hesse due to
financial difficulties. They had their portion of the building expanded and rebuilt as castle and set up an administrative
center there. When Eberhard IV von Eppstein-Königstein, the last male representative of the family, died in 1535,
the remaining eastern half of Eppstein Castle first fell to the Counts of Stolberg and then in 1581 to Kurmainz, who
managed its numerous properties from the Eppstein heritage from here .
After the reorganization of Germany in 1803, Eppstein Castle fell to the Duchy of Nassau. Since the former
Hessian half had been vacant since 1776, these buildings were derelict and no longer habitable. Nassau therefore
auctioned the facility for demolition in 1804. The new private owner left the buildings until 1823, with the exception
of one building in the east, which previously had housed the armoury. It was serving as a Catholic church at the time.
The remainder of the castle served as a quarry for building material.
In 1824 the Austrian Baron Franz Maria von Carnea-Steffaneo di Tapogliano zu Kronheim and Eppenstein bought
the ruins because he mistakenly believed himself to be a descendant of the Lords of Eppstein. A descendant, Franz
Maria von Carnea-Steffaneo, died in 1825. It was sold to Count Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode in 1869. His son
Christian-Ernst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode had the remains uncovered and secured from 1906 under the direction of
the architect Franz Burkhard, in order to donate them to the city of Eppstein in 1929. Supported by the Main-Taunus-
Kreis, the Hessian State Office for Monument Preservation as well as sponsors and the Burgverein Eppstein eV ,
Eppstein's landmark has been continuously renovated by the city since 1968 in order to preserve it. The structure
of Eppstein Castle preserved today mainly dates from the 14th and 15th centuries.
Particularly striking is the round keep. It has a square base and flat domes have been preserved inside. In the
Middle Ages it was 33 m high, of which 24 m are still preserved today. Its two original high entrances can still
be seen. Accessible they were over the roofs of adjacent buildings to the east and through the attic of the south
subsequent Palas. This hall had four storeys and, like the keep, dates from the 14th century. Only a few remains
of the two lower floors have survived.
The so-called kitchen building , which is located east of the keep, is better preserved. Of the building built by
Kurmainz around 1500 directly on the ring wall, the outer facade and the ground floor of the facade facing the
courtyard are still standing. The bower, the women's room, was originally on the ground floor. The castle complex
has two entrances. The eastern one can be entered via a neck ditch bridge, while the main gate in the west can be
reached via a steep castle path.
The former strength of defence is documented by the remains of large kennels around the core of the castle. Part
of this were also two flanking towers in the south, of which the so-called begging boy is still preserved today. The
tower got its name from the use of its cellar as a guilty prison.
The only completely preserved part of the castle is in the east. The Mainz Castle was built by Kurmainz and has
had a chapel since 1765. It is thanks to the fact that this was still in use until 1903 that the building was not used as
a quarry like the other buildings. The town and castle museum, which was initially housed in the begging boy and
moved to the current building in 1926, is located in the preserved building of the castle . In 2007 it counted 8,825
visitors. (Magistrate of the city of Eppstein (ed.): 1000 years of Eppstein Castle. (Castle and museum guide).
Ground plan of Burg Eppstein.
Model of Burg Eppstein inside the castle museum.
(Berthold Werner Photo, 28 Apr 2015)
Sigmaringen Castle (Schloss Sigmaringen), was the princely castle and seat of government for the Princes of
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Situated in the Swabian Alb region of Baden-Württemberg, this castle dominates the
skyline of the town of Sigmaringen. The castle was rebuilt following a fire in 1893, and only the towers of the
earlier medieval fortress remain. Schloss Sigmaringen was a family estate of the Swabian Hohenzollern family, a
cadet branch of the Hohenzollern family, from which the German Emperors and kings of Prussia came. During
the closing months of the Second World War, Schloss Sigmaringen was briefly the seat of the Vichy French
Government after France was liberated by the Allies. The castle and museums may be visited throughout the year,
but only on guided tours. It is still owned by the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen family, although they no longer reside
Sigmaringen is located on the southern edge of the Swabian Jura, a plateau region in southern Baden-Württemberg.
The Hohenzollern castle was built below the narrow Danube river valley in the modern Upper Danube Nature Park
(Naturpark Obere Donau). The castle rises above the Danube on a towering chalk projection that is a spur of the
white Jura Mountains formation. The hill is known simply as the Schlossberg or Castle Rock. The Schlossberg is
about 200 meters (660 ft) long and up to 35 meters (115 ft) above the river. On this free-standing towering rock,
the princely Hohenzollern castle is the largest of the Danube valley castles. The sheer cliffs and steep sides of the
tower made it a natural site for a well-protected medieval castle.
The first castle at Sigmaringen appeared during the end of the early Middle Ages, in the early 11th century. The
castle was first mentioned in 1077 following the unsuccessful siege of Burg Sigmaringen by Rudolf of Rheinfelden
in his fight against the King of Germany, Henry IV. In 1083 a pair of brothers, Ludwig and Manegold von
Sigmaringen, are listed as witnesses on a document for the Königseggwald abbey.
Ludwig von Sigmaringen was married to Richinza von Spitzenberg, daughter of Berthold I, von Zähringen. At
the end of the 11th century he built a castle on the Spitzenberg at Kuchen. The castle and the surrounding land
and villages were part of the inheritance of Richinza. From their marriage Richinza and Ludwig had four children;
Mathilde von Spitzenberg, the wife of Aribo von Wertingen, the clergyman Ulrich von Sigmaringen, Ludwig II
von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg and Manegold von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg. The three brothers, Ulrich, Ludwig
and Mangold von Sigmaringen are named as the founders of the 11th-century St. George's Abbey in the Black Forest.
From 1133 until 1170 Rudolf von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg, the son of Ludwig II, ruled at Sigmaringen. In 1183
Graf Ludwig von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg-Helfenstein, the son of Rudolf, is mentioned at the castle. In 1147
Ludwig as well as his father Rudolf and brother Ulrich II von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg are mentioned in a
document of Walter von Dillingen, Prince-Bishop of Augsburg as lords of Spitzenberg-Sigmaringen.
Under the Helfenstein family, the castle was renovated around 1200. The castle was totally rebuilt with buckel
stones (squared-off stones with a rounded outer surface). Between 1209 and 1258 the castle was occupied by
Graf Gottried von Sigmaringen-Helfenstein and his son Graf Gebhard von Sigmaringen-Pietengau. In 1258 the
cousin of Graf Gebhard, Graf Ulrich II von Helfenstein, became the owner of Burg Sigmaringen. Later, Ulrich's
daughter Agnes married Graf Ulrich I von Montfort. Following the marriage in 1272, Sigmaringen was owned by
the Counts of Montfort. Then, in 1290 Graf Hugo V von Montfort, son of Ulrich I, sold the castle and the city of
Sigmaringen to Albrecht and Rudolf von Habsburg.
Before 1325 Duke Luipold von Habsburg sold the castle and the county of Sigmaringen to the Count of
Württemberg. In 1399 Count Eberhard von Württemberg granted the castle and county of Sigmaringensein as
well as the county of Veringen in Margraviate of Austria, to his uncle and liegeman Count Eberhard III von
Werdenberg (1387–1416) as a fief. His son Count Johann IV. von Werdenberg (1416–1465) and his wife Countess
von Württemberg (disinherited by the House of Württemberg), in 1459 inherited the castle and county of
Sigmaringen. To protect his land, in the following year he declared Sigmaringen an Austrian fief. From 1460
until 1500 the Counts von Werdenberg renovated the Burg (a military fortress) into Schloss Sigmaringen (a
fortified residence), and expanded it to the dimensions which remain today. Toward the end of the 15th century
they built two long, angular buildings in the north east. Then, in the early 16th century another wing was added
to the west. The two round towers that flank the entrance to the castle also date from this time.
Hugo IX. zu Sigmaringen (1459–1508), son of Johann IV., died without any male offspring. His sister Anna von
Werdenberg married Count Friedrich von Fürstenberg in 1516.
In 1521 Christoph (1494–1534), together with his brothers Johann VI. and Felix I. von Werdenberg, was granted
the fief of Sigmaringen from Emperor Charles V. Count Christoph married, after his first marriage to Eleonore
Gonzaga remained childless, Johanna von Bröseln, widow of the Count Eitel Friedrich III von Hohenzollern in
1526. All of his children died, except for his daughter Anna, who married Friedrichs II von Fürstenberg.
According to the Zimmern Chronicle in 1530, as Count Felix I was in the bath house with Leonora Werdenberg
(the illegitimate daughter of Hugo IX and the mistress of Felix and Christoph von Werdenberg) the bath house fire
was allowed to spread, leading to a fire that expanded throughout the outbuildings around the castle.
In 1534, following the death of the last male member of the Werdenberger family, Count Friedrich von Fürstenberg
demanded the Werdenberger lands. However, King Ferdinand I granted the fief of Sigmaringen and Veringen, in
1535, to Charles I of Hohenzollern (1516–1576), the son from Johanna von Bröseln's first marriage with Friedrich III.
von Hohenzollern. Charles I was the first Hohenzollern to rule in Sigmaringen.
In 1539 there was another fire that damaged the castle. A year later, in 1540, Sigmaringen and Veringen were
transferred to the House of Hohenzollern as part of the Pfullendorf agreement (Pfullendorfer Vertrag). Count
Charles I von Hohenzollern occupied the castle.
Charles II von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1547–1606), son of Charles I was the count of Sigmaringen from 1576
until 1606. He was also the founder of the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen line of the Hohenzollern family. Under
Charles II the castle was renovated. Between 1576 and 1606 the gatehouse was expanded to cover the entrance
to the castle and a new church was built near the castle.
In 1576 the House of Hohenzollern split into four lines, Hohenzollern (died out in 1602), Hohenzollern-Haigerloch
(absorbed by Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen after 1630), Hohenzollern-Hechingen (died out in 1869) and Hohenzollern-
Sigmaringen. Sigmaringen was the main residence of the family of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from 1576 until 1850.
Johann von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1578–1638), the son of Charles II was the count of Hohenzollern-
Sigmaringen from 1606 until 1623. Then in 1623 the family was promoted from Count (Graf) to the rank of
Princes of the Holy Roman Empire (Reichsfürst). Johann then became the first prince (Fürst) of Hohenzollern-
During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was besieged by Swedish troops in 1632, and retaken by the Imperial
troops in the following year. During the attack by Imperial troops under General Horn, the eastern section of the
castle was destroyed by fire.
Before the siege, Johann fled to Bavaria. He would remain in Bavaria until his death, at age 60, in 1638. Johann's
son, Meinrad I (1605–1681), was the prince from 1638 until 1681. Meinrad had the burned eastern wing rebuilt
during 1658 and 1659 by the master builder Michael Beer. Both eastern buildings, built when the Werdenberg
family owned Sigmaringen, were combined under a single roof.
Maximilian (1636–1689), son of Meinrad I, was prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from 1681 until 1689.
His son Meinrad II (1673–1715) ruled from 1689 until 1715. From 1698 on he ruled in Haigerloch. His son, Josef
(1702–1769) ruled from 1715 until 1769. In 1724 Josef ordered the construction of the Marstalles or royal stables.
In addition to this construction, in 1736 he had the castle modernized and the Knights' Hall (Rittersaal) was built.
In 1867 it was refurnished and renamed the Ancestors' Hall (Ahnensaal). His son, karl Friedrich reigned from 1769
Karl Friedrich's son, Anton Aloys (1762–1831), reigned from 1785 until 1831. Between 1815 and 1817 he had the
granary rebuilt as a five-story knights' building, which became known as Wilhelm's building (Wilhelmsbau).
Prince Karl (1785–1853), the son of Anton Aloys, ruled from 1831 until 1848. In 1833 Karl called a constitutional
assembly (Landtag) together and created a constitutional charter that would be the law in his lands. He founded a
hospital for his subjects, and had the Ständehaus built on the modern Leopoldsplatz in Sigmaringen (today owned
by the Hohenzollerischen Landesbank). Karl also removed the burden of serfdom and various other medieval.
During the German Revolution of 1848 Karl abdicated in favor of his son, Karl Anton, on 27 August 1848. In
recognition of Karl's efforts to improve the lives of his subjects, in 1857 the hospital that he built was renamed
the Fürst-Carl-Landesspital (Prince Carl Regional Hospital). In 1869 Karl Anton, following the death of
Konstantin the last prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen, annexed the lands of Hohenzollern-Hechingen and
became the prince of Hohenzollern.
Karl Anton built the castle into a meeting point for the nobility of Europe. Portions of the castle were rebuilt and
decorated to make Schloss Sigmaringen into a destination of the rich and powerful. In 1855 the walls of the upper
story were removed to create the Old German Hall (Altdeutschen Saal). In 1864 he modified the arches above the
southern curtain wall to form the Weapons Room (Waffenhalle). From 1862 until 1867 he built the new Art Gallery (Kunsthalle), which is today a museum. As a member of the German high nobility, Karl Anton needed
a centerpiece of his elegant castle. To create this, in 1872 he had the Parisian architect Lambert rebuild the dining
hall into the French Hall (Französische Saal). In 1877 he expanded the central keep, removed the old roof and
topped the keep with a new pointed roof. In the following year, the Ancestors' Hall (Ahnensaal) was rebuilt.
Since 1871 the castle has been open for guided tours. These tours provide a history of the castle as well as the
House of Hohenzollern.
Leopold (1835–1905), the son of Karl Anton, was offered the Spanish crown after the Spanish Revolution of 1868
overthrew Queen Isabella II. He was supported by the Prussian Prime Minister Otto von Bismarck, but opposed
by the French emperor Napoleon III. Leopold was forced to decline the offer, but the extra demands made by the
French government and the sending of the Ems Telegram resulted in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71, which
led to the fall of emperor Napoleon III and the setting up of the French Third Republic. Following the war and the
death of Karl Anton, he ruled as prince of the Houses of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern from 1885 until his death in 1905.
In 1893 the eastern wing burned and was nearly totally destroyed. Starting in 1895, the construction manager
Johannes de Pay and the Nunich architect Emanuel von Seidl rebuilt the destroyed section. In 1899 and 1906,
other sections of the castle were redone in the eclectic style (a combination of Romanesque, Gothic and mostly
Renaissance styles) that was common at the time. The Portuguese Gallery (Portugiesische Galerie) was built
during this reconstruction. The construction continued under Leopold's son, Wilhelm (1864–1927) who was
prince of the Houses of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern from 1905 until 1927.
In 1901, the pointed spire on the keep was destroyed. It was replaced with an octagonal pointed neo-gothic tower
made from tuff stone. Leopold's son Friedrich (1891–1965) was the prince of the house from 1927 until 1965. He
opened the carriage house in the lower story of the museum as an early history museum.
Following the Allied invasion of France, the French Vichy Regime was moved from France into Schloss
Sigmaringen. The princely family was forced out of the castle by the Gestapo, and moved to Schloss Wilflinger.
The French authors Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Lucien Rebatet, who had written political and anti-semitic works,
feared for their safety and fled to Sigmaringen with the Vichy government. Céline's 1957 novel D'un châ l'autre
(From one castle to another) describes the end of the war and the fall of Sigmaringen on 22 April 1945.
During the 1970s, following a crisis in the steel industry, Frederick William had to sell some of the family property
to support the Hüttenwerke Laucherthal (Laucherthal Steel Works). Since the death of his wife Margarita in 1996,
Prince Frederick William lived on a country estate in Jagdschloss Josefslust between Krauchenwies and Sigmaringen.
His son and heir, Karl Friedrich, lives in the Sommerschloss (Summer Palace) in Krauchenwies. The castle is
occupied by the management for the business interests of the prince as well as the museum.
The first castle at Sigmaringen dated from around 1200 and was built from Buckel Stones (squared off stones
with a rounded outer surface). The original castle was fully absorbed into the later constructions. Built on the
eastern side of the rock hill, it was one of the best protected castles in Germany during the Middle Ages. The
original castle was 80 by 30 meters (262 by 98 ft) with the central keep being 45 by 20 meters (148 by 66 ft) in
size. The flat and therefore threatened west side was protected by a moat and a 25 or 26 meters (82 or 85 ft) high
keep. The square western keep was 8.23 by 8.34 meters (27.0 by 27.4 ft) in size.
The foundations of the castle were between 3 and 2.5 meters (9.8 and 8.2 ft) thick. The, originally, four story
keep walls taper slightly to between 2 or 2.5 meters (6.6 or 8.2 ft) thick. The walls are built in the buckel stone
style out of a mixture of limestone and Nagelfluh, a conglomerate rock found in the area. The keep could be entered
through a nearly 8 metres (26 ft) high entrance on the courtyard side. To the north of the keep, next to the wall tower,
is the castle gate with a gatehouse. The 2.28 meters (7.5 ft) wide and 3.96 meters (13.0 ft) high castle gate was
built as a semi-circular entrance with rounded stones and soldiers carved as capitals on the columns. Currently,
the castle gate is located at the upper end of the steeply inclined entry hall. The flat top of the hill was surrounded
by a curtain wall. From the original fortified house with its blind arches and enclosed kitchen, located on the
highest point of the cliff, the arches and portions of the wall are still visible in the outer wall. On the southside,
about 6 meters (20 ft) below the keep, a 10–12 meters (33–39 ft) wide inner courtyard was located. Today this
area is occupied by the Hall of Weapons. On the east side near the mill is a small 2 meters (6.6 ft) wide opening
in the wall, which was most likely a lower castle gate. The 6 to 8 meters (20 to 26 ft) high outer curtain wall is
the foundation of the modern castle building. In the north inner wall of the keep is a small opening, which likely
was a hidden passage leading to the Danube.
The weapon collection in Schloss Sigmaringen contains over 3000 different examples of weapons and armor.
Prince Karl Anton's passion for collecting weapons resulted in the creation of this collection. The collection
shows the evolution of weapons from the 14th century to the 20th century. In addition to weapons, the collection
also includes protective items such as shields, armor and handguns. Particularly noteworthy are such rare objects
dating from the 15th century as a German multi-barrel gun, a body shield and a richly engraved helmet once
belonging to a royal bodyguard from ca.1622. The collection includes not just European weapons but also weapons
that were considered exotic, such as Persian weapons and the full equipment of a Japanese Samurai.
In the Galeriebau (Gallery Building), built from 1862 to 1867 under Prince Karl Anton, west of the castle is a
collection of medieval torture instruments. The torture chamber with its instruments illustrates an earlier idea of
In addition to the torture museum, the Galeriebau also houses a Pre and Ancient history museum. The collections
give a picture of life from the Stone Age until the end of the Merovingian dynasty (10.000 B.C. until 700 A.D). It
also includes artifacts from the Roman settlements around Sigmaringen. Karl Anton wasn't just fascinated by
weapons and hunting, he also loved history and archeology. In 1881 during construction of a canal in the Sigmaringen
Market Square, Roman pottery shards and iron work were found. This discovery excited Karl Anton, and he
ordered a member of the court F. A. von Lehner to search for and archeologically explore the Villa Rustica in the
area. Finds from this Roman estate as well as other nearby estates are included in the collection.
Located south west of the castle is the royal stables (Marstall). The building now houses the Marstallmuseum, a
collection of princely carriages. Carriages, coaches, sleds and sedan chairs are presented in an open building.
Additionally, equipment for the horses including saddles, horse shoes and spurs, are on display in the museum.
One of the exhibits, a manual firefighting pump dates back to the fire in the castle in 1893. The fire raged for three
days because the connections on the modern firefighting equipment didn't match the castle's connections. Water
had to be brought up by a human chain in buckets from the Danube to the castle. (Sigmaringen. In: Ders.:
Burgenführer Schwäbische Alb. Band 3: Donautal. Wandern und entdecken zwischen Sigmaringen und Tuttlingen.
S. 41–62. Biberacher Verlagsdruckerei. Biberach 1990)
(Christian Horvat Photo)
Marienberg Fortress (Festung Marienberg) is a prominent landmark on the left bank of the Main river in Würzburg,
in the Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany. The mighty Fortress Marienberg is a symbol of Würzburg and served
as a home of the local prince-bishops for nearly five centuries. It has been a fort since ancient times. Most of the
current structures originally were built in Renaissance and Baroque styles between the 16th and 18th centuries.
After Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden conquered the area in 1631 during the Thirty Year's War, the castle was rebuilt
as a Baroque residence. After it ceased to serve as residence of the Bishops of Würzburg, the fortress saw repeated
action in the wars of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Festung Marienberg was severely damaged by British bombs
in March 1945 and only fully rebuilt in 1990. Today, it houses two museums.
Marienberg Fortress, Würzburg.
If you would like to learn more about castles and sieges have a look here:
It has been said that the taking of a fortress depends primarily on the making of a good plan to take it, and the
proper implementation and application of the resources to make the plan work. Long before a fortress has been
besieged and conquered, it has to have been outthought before it can be outfought. This book outlines some of
the more successfully thought out sieges, and demonstrates why it is that no fortress is impregnable.
A siege can be described as an assault on an opposing force attempting to defend itself from behind a position of
some strength. Whenever the pendulum of technology swings against the "status quo," the defenders of a fortification
have usually been compelled to surrender. We must stay ahead of the pendulum, and not be out-thought long before
we are out-fought, for, as it will be shown in this book, "no fortress is impregnable."
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Nook book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/siegecraft-no-fortress-impregnable-skaarup-harold/1109600163?ean=9781462047505&itm=79&USRI=Harold+Skaarup