Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   
Castles and Medieval Fortresses, Germany (Burgen, Festung und Schlosser)

German Medieval Castles and Fortresses

(Burgen, Festung und Schlosser)

Data current to 27 Jan 2021.

 (Author's artwork)

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 in Germany, 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 interesting.

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)

Lahr: 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. 

Hohengeroldseck was a state of the Holy Roman Empire, and iserved as the family seat of the Lords of Geroldseck,

initially under Walther I von Geroldseck.  

Lahr: 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.

 (Muck Photo)

Baden-Baden: Burg Hohenbaden (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 margraviate. 

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.

München 1993)

Ground plan of Burg Hohenbaden.

Burg Hohenbaden in the 15th century, illustration by Wolfgan Braun.

(Stadtwiki Photo)
Aerial view of Burg Hohenbaden.

 (Martin Dürrschnabel Photo)

Burg Hohenbaden.

 (Muck Photo)

Schloss Hohenbaden.

German Medieval Castles

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 anda few pieces of

my artwork.  More detailed information can be found on Wikipedia.  If I missed any that you think should be included,

please let me know.

Burg Eltz, near the Mosel River, Germany, Oil on canvas, 18 X 24.  (Author's artwork, from photos taken 8 Oct 1981, 9 July 1982, and May 2008)

 (Author Photo, May 2008)

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.

 (Author Photo)

Burg Eltz.

(Blueduck4711 Photo, 17 July 2010)

Mayen: 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)

Schloss Bürresheim.

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Schloss Bürresheim, aerial view.

 (Asio otus Photo)

Burg Altena is a medieval hill castle in the town of Altena in North Rhine-Westphalia.  Built on a spur of Klusenberg hill, the castle lies near the Lenne in the Märkischer Kreis.  The castle was built early in the 12th century by the Counts of Berg.  They eventually abandoned Altena and moved their residence to Hamm.

The castle may have been built by the brothers Adolf and Everhard von Berg around the year 1108 after Henry V granted them land in the Sauerland for their loyal services.  They built their castle on Wulfseck Mountain, naming it Wulfeshagen, later Altena.  This is one of the several legends of the establishment of the county of Altena and the building of the castle.

After the acquisition of the parish land of Mark near the city of Hamm in 1198, the counts of Altena took Mark Castle as their primary residence and called themselves the Counts of the Mark.  They only occasionally inhabited Altena Castle, and from 1392 onward it was only used as a residence for the county bailiff (Amtmann).  Count Engelbert III of the Mark gave the small settlement at the base of the mountain the rights of liberty (such as self-governance).  In 1455 the castle burned down and was only re-erected partially.

In the Brandenburg-Prussian era, the castle became a garrison until it was sold to the town of Altena in 1771.  In the following years an almshouse and a workhouse was established there.  This existed until 1840.  From 1766 to 1811 there existed a criminal court and prison in the castle.  By 1834 the castle had greatly deteriorated and needed to be rebuilt.  Due to lack of funds, however, this was not carried out.  The Johanniter Order set up a hospital in the buildings.

Due to the 300 year-anniversary of the membership of the County of Mark to Brandenburg-Prussia in 1909 plans for a reconstruction of the castle began.  In 1914 this was completed, apart from the outer bailey and lower gatehouse.  There was a controversial debate about the modes of reconstruction, where the preference of historic designs over the medieval and early modern architecture was criticised.  In 1918 the last works were completed.

In 1914, Richard Schirrmann established the world's first youth hostel within the castle, which is still in use today (Jugendherberge Burg Altena).  The original rooms are a museum today.  The youth hostel continues to run at a location on the lower castle court yard, opened in 1934.  Today the castle is symbol of the town of Altena and a tourist attraction.  The entry ticket is also valid for the nearby Deutsche Drahtmuseum (German Wire Museum).  During the first weekend of August a yearly Medieval Festival takes place in the castle and town.  Part of the castle is used as a restaurant.  (Ernst Dossmann: Auf den Spuren der Grafen von der Mark. 3. Auflage. Mönning, Iserlohn 1992)

 (Dr. Gregor Schmitz Photo)

Burg Altena, aerial view.

 (Frank Vincentz Photo)

Burg Altena. view from Lüdenscheider Straße.

 (Asio otus Photo)

Burg Altena. view from Bismarckstrasse.

 (Crossbill Photo)

Burg Balduinseck (Baldeneck) is a ruined hilltop castle in Hunsrück.  It stands 300 m above sea level on a hill about 20 meters above the confluence of the Wohnrother Back and the Schumbach to the Mörsdorger in the district of Buch in the Rhine-Hunsrück district in Rhineland-Palatinate.  Archbishop Baldwin of Trier acquired the site in 1325 after a truce arranged with Ritter Richard and Ritter Wirich, leading to the right to build a castle on it.  The castle was built in spite of a number of interruptions, in 1331.  Its purpose was primarily to counted Kastellaun Castle in the county of Sponheim.  Its construction appears to have taken inspiration from Western models, particularly the French donjon style.

The castle was built on a narrow rock spur, and served as the official seat of the Trier administrative district of the same name.  When the seat was moved to Zell in the 16th century, the castle became largely insignificant.  Owners and administrators often changed, because Balduinseck always remained part of the Trier electoral state.  In 1675 the office building was leased.  In 1711 the castle fell into neglect and in 1780 it was declared dilapidated.  It does not appear to have suffered damage from any of the numerous wars.

The castle ruin is about 55 meters long and up to 20 meters wide in an east-west direction.  The outer walls of the 18-meter-high, four-story residential tower are well preserved and give the ruin its distinctive appearance.  The residential tower has a footprint of 22.7 × 14.4 meters, the walls are up to 2.5 meters thick.  A spiral staircase on the left side of the main entrance and nine chimneys are preserved, extending over three floors.  The fourth floor has no chimneys and was therefore probably used as a storage room and for military purposes.  In front of the large main chimney on the ground floor, which is let into the east wall, the remains of a fountain are still present.  In addition to the chimneys, the openings for wall cupboards as well as the white interior plaster and a white stripe of the former exterior plaster between the third and fourth floors have been preserved.

After a fire in 1425, the interior of the residential tower was redesigned.  Most of the open fireplaces have been converted into closed, smoke-free tiled stoves in favor of more effective heating.  The upper floors remained unheated and were only used as storage rooms.

The specialty of the castle is the location of the residential building that was completed first.  Contrary to the usual structure of a castle, the residential tower, which was equipped with a defensive core on the east side, stands behind the neck ditch, directly on the attack side.  Such an arrangement can be found in other castles built by Baldwin of Luxembourg.

In front of the residential tower are the remains of a subsequently erected round tower in the west and the circular wall that was finally built, where a round shell tower open to the castle courtyard is structurally integrated into the south side of the masonry.  In addition, the old driveway with neck ditch and the associated bridgehead can still be seen.  To the east there are the remains of a second trench with the foundation walls of an advanced tower.

Parts of the foundation were so badly damaged that they could no longer withstand the pressure of the masonry.  Cracks proved that the entire structure was weakening.  It was considered to be in acute danger of collapsing.  Therefore, the ruin was subjected to comprehensive security building measures from summer 2009.  The work was divided into five construction phases and was completed in 2014.  (Alexander Thon, Stefan Ulrich u. Achim Wendt: "... where a mighty tower defiantly looks down".  Castles in the Hunsrück and on the Nahe, Schnell & Steiner, Regensburg 2013)

 (Rabax63 Photo)

Burg Balduinseck.  Main entrance to the tower house on the west side; to the right is the entrance to the spiral staircase

 (Rabax63 Photo)

Burg Balduinseck. 

 (Frank Martini Photo)

Lissingen: 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

sandstone chimneypieces.

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.

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Aerial view of Burg Lissingen.

 (Haselburg-müller Phoro)

Burg Breuberg, also called Kernburg (core castle) was probably founded around or shortly after 1200 by the imperial abbey of Fulda under Abbot Markwald I, to secure Fulden properties in the Odenwald.  It is one of Germany's best preserved castles.   c1200 the bailiwick was taken over by the Lords of Lützelbach, who then called themselves Lords (Herren von) of Breuberg.  Only the keep and the late Romanesque portal of the main castle can be dated to the earliest construction phase of the castle.  Residential buildings from this time have not survived, although individual walls from earlier buildings could be built in the buildings of the core castle.

In 1323, the male family line of the house of Breuberg died out with Eberhard III of Breuberg.  From the 14th century, the castle was expanded many times, making it today a journey through the building styles of the last 850 years.   Half of the property went to Konrad von Trimberg, a quarter each to the Counts of Wertheim and the Lords of Weinsberg.  The fragmentation of the property becomes clear in the complicated ownership structure of the following time: In 1336 three quarters of the castle belonged to Wertheim, Trimberg and the Lords of Eppstein each held an eighth.  In 1337 a partition agreement was signed in which it was recorded which party belonged to which parts of the castle and who had to maintain them.  Essential parts like the well were maintained jointly.

In 1446, Count Wilhelm of Wertheim sold Count Philipp the Elder of Katzenelnbogen his share of the castle for 2400 Gulden.  The castle played an important role in territorial policy from Wertheim's side, which is why the counts endeavored to gradually acquire it in full.  But it was not until 1497 under Count Michael II that this succeeded with the purchase of the last stake.  A little more than 50 years, between 1497 and 1556, the Counts of Wertheim owned the castle completely.  Many construction measures took place during this time, especially the adaptation for the use firearms with the construction of the gun turrets and the cannon platform (Schütt).  New buildings were erected in the castle, such as the Wertheim armory (1528) and parts of the gateway . Breuberg thus became a small Wertheim residence, but also a fortress against the ambitions of larger sovereigns such as the Landgraves of Hesse, the Archbishops of Mainz or the Electoral Palatinate.  The town of Neustadt was founded as a settlement below the castle as early as 1378.

After the Count of Wertheim died out in 1556, the castle was divided again.  It was then half owned by the Counts of Erbach (from 1747 on the Erbach-Schönberg line ) and the Counts of Stolberg-Königstein.  At the beginning of the 17th century, the stolberg-Königstein part of the castle fell to the Counts of Löwenstein-Wertheim (later Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg ).

During the Thirty Years' War, Breuberg Castle changed hands several times.  Half of the fortress belonged to sovereigns with different loyalties.  With the advance of Gustaf to Franconia, the Protestant Counts of Erbach took over the castle completely.  The Swedes used Count Gottfried von Erbach as commandant, who damaged the opposing party so much that the County of Erbach later had to pay high compensation.   He died in 1635, and was buried in the castle chapel, where his sarcophagus was rediscovered in the 19th century.  In the course of the advance of the imperial army after the Battle of Nördlingen, ownership changed back to the Löwensteiners with Count Ferdinand Carl von Löwenstein as commander.  In 1637, the Swedes under Jakob von Ramsay, governor of the Hanau Fortress, tried to besiege the castle but were unsuccessful.  The Schwedenschanze north of Wolferhof is a reminder of the event.  In 1639 the Erbachische Rat, Dr. Backyards was shot by a Löwenstein mercenary as he waited outside the gate to be admitted.  In 1644 the Counts of Erbach were able to recapture Breuberg in a surprise attack and kept it occupied until the Peace of Westphalia.

In the larger armed conflicts of modern times, such as the Palatinate and Austrian War of Succession, the fortress was still secured by troops.  However, the castle quickly lost its importance as the seat of power.  It was used as an administrative and official seat, which was only moved to Neustadt in the first half of the 19th century.  Before that, the castle served briefly from the Napoleonic period and belonged to the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt from 1810 to around 1850.  It served as the seat of the Breuberg district, the predecessor of the Neustadt district.  After that, a toy factory was housed in the castle at the end of the 19th century.  A manufacturer from Mainz had African animals made from wood there.  Since he had a brother in the USA, these were shipped and sold in New York in the USA.  This ended with the First World War.  The castle stood empty for a short time, but remained in the possession of the Erbach (later Erbach-Schönberg, Protestant) and Löwenstein-Wertheim (later the Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg line, Catholic).

In 1919, the German Youth Hostel Association, which had belonged to the Hitler Youth from 1940 , acquired the castle, making it the property of the German Reich.  During the Second World War, slave laborers were housed there, commemorated by a plaque at the entrance gate and incisions in Cyrillic script on the keep. 1946, Breuberg Castle became the property of the newly founded State of Hesse by order of the military government.  The castle continues to serve as a youth hostel, and was renovated in 1987.

The oldest part of the castle complex is the main castle on a pentagonal floor plan with remains of the moat and the curtain wall, the cuboid keep and the columned portal at the gate of the main castle.  The ring wall the inner castle with characteristic small cuboids should also belong to the earliest times.  With 1900 m², the core castle is unusual for the 13th century.  The mean value for this time is around 1000 m².  The later buildings from the 15th to 17th centuries were placed on top of the older wall. Because no battlements were bricked up, it was concluded that the curtain wall had none.  (Elmar Brohl: Fortresses in Hessen. Published by the German Society for Fortress Research eV, Wesel, Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2013)

The high house of Breuberg.  Merian engraving from Topographia Franconiae 1648.
 (Tomgoebel Photo)
Burg Breuburg.  Entrance to the outer bailey and gateway.

 (BlueBreezeWiki Photo)

Bad Dürkheim: Hardenburg stands on the eastern edge of the Palatinate Forest near the Rhineland-Palatinate town of Bad Dürkheim.  It is one of the largest castle ruins in the western Rhineland-Palatine.  Hardenburg Castle dominates the green hills along the road which follows the Eisenach River through the thick forested mountains of the Pflazer Wald Nature Park between Bad Durkheim and Kaiserslautern.  The fortress castle at Hardenburg (not to be confused with Hardenberg in Lower-Saxony) was first constructed by the Counts of Leiningen-Hardenburg, on land belonging to the Benedictine monastery at Limburg a few miles away when Count Friedrich I of Leiningen wasgranted governorship of the abbey by King Phillip of Swabia in 1205.  The abbots initially protested the building of the castle, but relented to the protectorship in 1249.

As the Leiningen family grew in stature and power (England’s Queen Victoria was a half-sister of Prince Karl of Leiningen in later days), the original 13th Century fortress was reconstructed in the Renaissance period into the large castle it appears today.  It was built in red stone, typical of the area like the Burg Frankenstein ruin further west.  Hardenburg Castle is probably best known for its “ball tower” with cannon balls imbedded in its stone masonry to impress any attackers of its impregnability to artillery.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t really.  The castle was taken by Napoleon’s army and most of its buildings were destroyed in 1795, leaving the great walls remaining.  The Princes of Leiningen had already moved their primary residence to a more comfortable Baroque palace in Bad Durkheim.

A vaulted ceiling cellar and some other rooms are most of what remains of the living quarters of the castle.  A distinctive feature of the castle is the great broad formal terrace of the former residence over-looking the wooded canyon of the Eisenach.  It is located 30 minutes from Kaiserslautern.  There is a road leading to a parking area near the ruin, and a hiking trail leads up from the village below from the parking lot of the modern town hall.  The approach to the castle is fairly unique as the walking trail leads through a tunnel under the walls and along the slope above the river road below.  The castle is open daily with a nominal admission charge.  (Alexander Thon, ed. (2005), Wie Schwalbennester an den Felsen geklebt : Burgen in der Nordpfalz (in German) (1. ed.), Regensburg: Verlag Schnell und Steiner)

Hardenberg, 1580.  Oldest known view of the castle.  "Kurpfälzischen Sketchbook" (Staatsgalerie Stuttgart)

 (Wolkenkratzer Photo)

Hardenburg, Bad Dürkheim.

 (Muck Photo)


 (Anaconda74 Photo)

Hardenburg, Bad Dürkheim.

 (Martin Falbisoner Photo)

Burghausen: (Burg zu Burghausen) 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 Z Photo)

Berghausen Castle, maincourt from the 11th century.

 (Bwag Photo)

 (Alexander D. Photo)

Berghausen Castle, panoramic view.

 (Werner Hölzl Photo)

Berghausen Castle, night view.

 (Werner Hölzl Photo)

Berghausen Castle, night view.

(Christian Michelides Photo)

Burghausen Castle at night.


 (Jürgen Regel Photo)

Gelnhausen: Imperial Palace, (Kaiserpfalz GelnhausenPfalz Gelnhausen  or Barbarossaburg)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.

 (Presse03 Photo)


 (Tobias Helfrich Photo)

Goslar: Imperial Palace (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)

 (Natalia19 Photo)

The wide gates of Goslar.

 (Anaconda74 Photo)

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: 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.

 (Karlunun Photo)

Burg Greifenstein.

 (peter schmelzle Photo)

Guttenberg: 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)

Burg Guttenberg.

 (p.schmelzle Photo)

Harburg: Burg Harburg is an extensive mediaeval castle complex dating 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)

 (Tilmann2007 Photo)

Burg Harburg.

 (Tilmann2007 Photo)

Burg Harburg.

 (Tilmann2007 Photo)

Burg Harburg.

 (Rikiwiki2 Photo)

Burg Harburg.

 (El-mejor Photo)

Aerial view of Burg Harburg.

 (Axel Heindemith Photo)

Nörten-Hardenberg: Burg Hardenberg is a castle ruin in the district of Northeim in Lower Saxony.  Burg Hardenburg

is first mentioned in 1101, and was built by the Electors of Mainz.  Their Ministeriales (or Burgmann) were the lords

of Rosdorf, who were expelled in 1287, followed by the lords of Thüdinghausen (near Moringen) who took on the name 

knights of HardenbergThe family acquired further properties near Nörten-Hardenberg, as well as in other regions of

Northern Germany.  Since 1409 Hardenberg Castle has been split between two family branches.  The castle was partly

destroyed by a thunderstorm in 1698, and abandoned in 1720, becoming a ruin.  In 1778 the Hardenberg family became

counts, whose most prominent member was Karl August von Hardenberg, Prime Minister of Prussia.  They still own

the estate.  Since 1710 the family has lived in the nearby manor house.  In 1700, they founded the Hardenberg-

Wilthen distillery, today Germany's second largest liquor producer.  

Burg Hardenberg, 1648, Merian.

 (Dewi König Photo)

Burg Hardenburg, Nörten-Hardenberg.

 (Dewi König Photo)

Burg Hardenburg, Nörten-Hardenberg.

 (Lumpeseggel Photo)

Burg Hardenburg, Nörten-Hardenberg.

 (Carlos-X Photo)

Burg Hardenburg, Nörten-Hardenberg.

 (Geak Photo)

Schwabish Gmund: Burg Hohenrechberg (High Rechenberg), ruins of a medieval Spur castle, south of Schwabisch

Gmund, near the district of Rechenberg in Ostalbktreis, in Baden-Württemberg.  The castle ruins stand 644.2  m above

sea level, on the western shoulder of the Rechberg witness mountain, one of the Three Kaiser Mountains on the northern

edge of the Swabian Alb.

The most likely builder of the castle was Ulrich von Rechenberg, first mentioned in a document in 1179. The

Hohenrechberg Castle was built between 1200 and 1250.  It was mentioned for the first time in 1355.  Hohenrechberg

Castle served as a Staufer Dienstmannenburg, and was the ancestral seat of the later Counts of Rechberg.  It formed

the historical and administrative center of their dominion.

From 1448 to 1450 soldiers from the imperial cities of Schwäbisch Gmünd and Schwäbisch Hall plundered the area

around the castle, but did not dare to attack it.  During the Peasants' War in 1525, the Hohenrechberg was spared

from the pillaging farmers.  However, the castle residents could not prevent the Lorch and Adelberg monasteries and

the nearby Hohenstaufen Castle from being burned down.  In 1546 the Schmalkaldische Bund moved up in front of the

castle, but it remained intact.  In contrast, Schwäbisch Gmünd was taken.

The castle was rebuilt and expanded several times.  Until 1585 the rulers ruled directly from their ancestral castle.  

The castle was occupied by the French in 1648 during the Thirty Years' War and in 1796 during the French Revolutionary

Wars.  They did not destroy it, but in 1865 the castle was ruined by a fire caused by lightning.

The ruin has been an outstanding sight on the Staufer road since 1977.  Up until 1986, the castle was owned by the

noble family.  At that time it was sold to a private citizen in Göppingen.  The irregular, polygonal castle complex has

a ring wall with humpback blocks, a Hohenstaufen palaces next to the rectangular projecting gate and a 30-meter-deep 

castle well.  The castle chapel has not been used since 1806.  (Walter Ziegler: Stauferstatten im Stauferland, Walter Ziegler

(Ed.), Konrad Theiss Verlag, 1977)

 (Tuweri Photo) 

 Burg Hohenrechberg, view from the East.

 (Skyscraper Photo)

Burg Hohenrechberg, aerial view.

 (Rake Photo)

Burg Hohenrechberg.

 (Pwagenblast Photo)

Burg Hohenrechberg, winter view.

 (AlterVista Photo)

Neckarzimmern: Burg Hornberg is a partially ruined castle located on a steep outcrop above the Neckar valley above the village Neckarzimmern, between Bad Wimpfen and Mosbach.  It is the largest and oldest castle in the valley.  

The original castle was built in the 11th century.  It is notable as the stronghold of Götz von Berlichingen, who bought it in 1517 and died there in 1562.  The castle was bought by Reinhard of Gemmingen in 1612 and remains in possession of the Gemmingen-Hornberg family today.  It was uninhabited from 1738 and left to decay until 1825, when it was partially restored. It has housed a museum since 1968.  It also housed students from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point College of Natural Resources for an annual summer exchange program.  (G. H. Bidermann: Burg Hornberg, Wohnsitz des Ritters Götz von Berlichingen, Rüstzeugschau 1980. Journal Verlag Schwend GmbH, Schwäbisch Hall 1980)  Visited 9 April 1990.

 (Bgabel Photo)

Burg Hornberg.

 (Castellan Photo)

Burg Hornberg.

 (Muck Photo)

Burg Hornberg, keep, stair tower, and on the right the Palas of the Lords of Berlichingen.

 (Muck Photo)

Burg Hornberg.

Burg Hornberg, c1600.

 (Aerial Video Capture Photo)

Burg Hornberg, aerial view.

 (Holger Uwe Schmidt Photo)

Burg Hornberg.

 (MoselcountyBürgermeister1 Photo)

Perm: Kasselburg is a ruined hill castle on a 490-metre-high basalt massif in Pelm near Gerolstein in the county

of Vulkaneifel in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate The Kasselburg's 37-metre-high, double tower, functioned

as a gate tower and tower house.  Its origins are not precisely clear.  Up until the present day, it had been assumed

that the lords of Blankenheim had built it shortly after 1335.  Structural investigations, however, have shown that

the tower underwent several phases of construction and is not just the work of one architect.  The gate probably lost

its guarding function with the expansion of the castle from 1452.  YThe large outer bailey, with its burgmann houses

and domestic buildings, date from that period.

The double tower is open to the public and has a good view of the surrounding area but, despite its size, is not a

bergfried (fighting tower).  The latter, built around 1200, is smaller and stands in the eastern part of the inner bailey. 

It has a square ground plan and was turned into a tower house in the 14th century.  A nearly 33-metre-long palas,

which dates to the 14th century is part of the inner court.  The castle was built in the 12th century.  Its owners may

have been the lords of Castel, but this is not entirely certain.  The castle was first mentioned in 1291 as the Castilburg

In 1314, it is called Castelberch.

The owners prior to 1335 are unknown, although Gerhard V of Blankenheim became its owner following a division

of inheritance in that year and thus founded the Blankenheim-Kasselburg line.  In 1406, this line of Blankenheims,

which had been elevated to the countship, died out with Count Gerhard VII.  The castle then passed by marriage to

William I of Loen and thus to Heinsberg.

Other owners followed, including the Counts of the Mark, Dukes of Arenberg Prince-Electors of Trier.  Many

special interest groups have claimed the Kasselburg for themselves throughout history, so that in 1674 the Imperial

Chamber Court of Wetzlar was called upon to put an end to the property disputes.  When the judges awarded the

castle to the dukes of Arenberg, the buildings soon served as barracks for the Duke of Arenberg's artillery troops. 

This marked the beginning of the decline of the castle.  In the 18th century it was still temporarily the seat of an

Arenberg forester, but by 1744 it was described as dilapidated.

After France seized the castle in 1794, it went to the Prussians in 1815.  An impulse to rescue the ruin came

unexpectedly from King Frederick William IV in 1838.  After a visit he initiated repair work, and after the completion

of the railway line from Cologne to Trier, the railway company donated 1,000 talers to open up the then already famous

double tower in order to offer its passengers a view.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the state historic preservation authorities carried out further restoration.  The

Castle Administration of Rhineland-Palatinate, who took over Kasselburg in 1946, also had conservation measures

carried out. In the meantime, the site has been placed under the care of the Directorate for Castles, Palaces and Ancient

Monuments of the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland-Palatinate, since 1998 the successors to the

former Castle Administration.  (Michael Losse: Kasselburg. Beitrag in: Hohe Eifel und Ahrtal (Joachim Zeune (ed.)).

Konrad Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart, 2003)

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Kasselburg, aerial view. 

 (Wolfenkratzer Photo)

Kasselburg, aerial view.

 (Felix König Photo)


 (Pascal Dihe Photo)


 (Johannes Robalotoff Photo)

Königstein: Festung Königstein im Taunus.  The castle Königstein is part of the Hessian town of the same name in Hochtaunuskreis in Hess.  It is one of the largest castle ruins in Germany, standing 407  m above sea level on the western edge of the old town of Königstein.  The north and west slopes of the castle hill are forested, further to the west there are undeveloped landscape areas.  The Falkenstein Castle ruins are in the northeast, about 1.5 kilometers as the crow flies, and Kronberg Castle lies to the southeast, about 4 kilometers as the crow flies.

There is a legend that King Clovis came (c4th to 5th Century) to this castle site and a virgin appeared who convinced him to become a Christian.  After he became one, he founded a castle there, although none of this is documented.  The oldest building remains on the castle hill from an older settlement date from the 10th or 11th century.  The oldest parts of the inner castle, the so-called herringbone masonry, dates to the first half of the 12th century.  The Nürings, who died out in 1172, were the possible builders.  After the end of the Staufer period, the castle underwent an energetic expansion under the Falkensteiners.  The lower floors of the keep date from the first decades of the 14th century.  It has been raised several times over the years and is now 34 meters high.  The castle served, especially from the beginning of the 14th century, to protect the important trade route between Frankfurt and Cologne.

The castle has been rebuilt and expanded many times over the centuries.  In addition to the adaptation to the developing defence technology, the expansion into a Renaissance-era residential palace for the count of Königstein was promoted.  In the 16th century, Count Eberhard IV von Eppstein and Ludwig zu Stolberg built the three mighty rondelles on the eastern flank, as well as the façade on the eastern side of the inner castle.

When the count family died out, the castle fell to the Electorate of Mainz in 1581, when it was used for military purposes.  Archbishop Johann Philipp von Schönborn initiated the last major expansion phase between 1660 and 1670, including the angular bastions on the south side.

In the First Coalition War, the French army under Custin, took Mainz on 21 October 1792 , and a few days later Königstein.  After the reconquest of Frankfurt on 2 December  by Prussian troops, part of the French forces withdrew to the Königstein Fortress, closely followed by the Prussians under the orders of General Friedrich Ludwig zu Hohenlohe.  Hohenlohe occupied Oberursel, Falkenstein Castle, the city of Koenigstein and began bombarding the fortress from Falkenstein on 6 December.  On 8 December, bombs thrown into it (the origin of which remains unclear) caused a fire in the city, which destroyed 80% of the houses.  Since the fortress did not surrender even after being bombarded, it was enclosed.  On 8 March 1793, the defenders finally surrendered.  The 421 men and 14 officers captured were brought to the Ehrenbreitstein fortress.

In 1793 clubists, actual or supposed supporters of the Mainz Republic, were imprisoned in the cellars of Mainz Castle, among them Caroline Böhmer, who later became the "Romantic Museum" Caroline Schelling.

During the coalition war, the castle was severely damaged in 1796, mainly due to a failed attempt at demolition.  The destruction seen to day is likely to be largely due to the Königstein population, who obtained building materials for numerous houses in the present old town after 1796.  The Duke of Nassau, to whom the castle fell after the Reichsdeputationshaupschluss, decided against rebuilding and allowed the demolition to continue for another twenty years.

While the sovereignty of Königstein passed to Prussia in 1866, the castle remained the private property of Duke Adolph, who later became the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.  He built his own small castle (today Königstein District Court) at the foot of the mountain (southeast corner).  His daughter, Hilda von Nassau, gave the fortress ruins to the city of Königstein in 1922.

The castle, which is now owned by the city of Königstein, is open to visitors all year round.  Both the castle tower and most of the cellars are accessible.  One of the preserved vaulted cellars (the armoury cellars ) can also be rented for private events.  In the old town of Königstein there is a castle museum with finds and a model of the castle.  (Fortresses in Hessen. Published by the German Society for Fortress Research eV, Wesel, Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2013)

Festung Königstein ground plan.

Königstein, view from the northeast, 1633.

Festung Königstein, model of the fortress as it would have appeared in 1796.

 (Georgenberg Photo)

Königstein: Festung Königstein also known as the Saxon Bastille stands above the town of Königstein near Dresden

in Saxon Switzerland, on the left bank of the River Elbe.  It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe and sits

atop the table hill of the same name.  The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50

buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress.  The rampart run

of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces.  In the centre of the site

is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.  The fortress, which for

centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000

visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia, dating

to the year 1233, in which a witness is named as "Burgrave Gebhard of Stein".  At that time the region was split between

the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Bishopric of Meissen.  The medieval castle belonged to the Kingdom of Bohemia. 

Its first full description as Königstein ("King's Rock") occurred in the Upper Lusatian Border Charter (Oberlausitzer

Grenzurkunde) of 1241, that Wenceslas I "in lapide regis" (Lat.: at the rock of the king) sealed.  In this charter the

demarcation of the border between the Slavic Gauen of Milska (Upper Lusatia), Nisani (Meißen Depression) and

Dacena (Tetschen region) was laid down.  Because the Königstein lay left of the Elbe, it was independent of the three

aforementioned Gauen.

The fortress was expanded by order of the Bohemian kings, into a fortified site that dominated the north of their

territories, controlling the Elbe above Pirna.  As the Elbe became more intensively used as a trade route, and an

outpost of the strategically important Dohna Castle located in nearby Müglitz.

After the king and later emperor, Charles IV had Eulau Castle, which dominated the southern region, destroyed in

1348 by townsfolk from Aussig, he spent from 5 to 19 August 1359 on the Königstein and signed the authority for

shipping rights.  The castle was pledged several times in the 50 years that followed, including to the Donins.  Because

this family were enemies of the margraves of Meißen, the latter finally captured the castle in 1408 during the Dohna

Feud that had been raging since 1385. The transfer of owndership of the castle to the Margraviate of Meißen did not

take place until 25 April 1459.  It was finally completed once the Saxon-Bohemian border had been settled in the 

Treaty of Eger.  Unlike the other rock castles in Saxon Switzerland the Königstein continued to be used by the Saxon

dukes and prince-electors for military purposes.  At one stage the Königstein was also a monastery.  In 1516, Duke 

George the Bearded, a fierce opponent of the Reformation, founded a Celestine abbey on the Königstein, the Kloster

des Lobes der Wunder Mariae.  It closed again in 1524, and after the death of Duke George, Saxony became Evangelical.

It is likely that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century.  The oldest surviving

structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century.  In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre

deep well was bored into the rock within the castle.  Up until that point, the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain

water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.  During the construction of the well some 8 cubic metres of water

had to be removed from the shaft every day.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the

strongest fortification in Saxony.  The hitherto very jagged table hill was now surrounded with high walls.  Buildings

were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg  (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus).  The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681,

during which inter alia the John George Bastion (Johann-Georgenbastion) was built in front of the Johann-Georgenburg

The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. 

From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine

Barrel (Königsteiner Weinfass), the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had

a capacity of 249,838 litres.  It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs.  The butt, which was once completely

filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. 

Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive

plateau.  St. John's Hall (Johannissaal) built in 1631 was converted in 1816 into the New Armoury (Neues Zeughaus). 

In 1819 the Magdalenenburg castle was turned into a provisions magazine that was fortified to withstand bombardment. 

The old provisions store became a barracks.  The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855.  After the fortress

had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts (Batteriewälle)

were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress

in case of an attack that, in the event, never came.  This was at this time that the last major building work was done on

the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and

later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous 

Zwinger there.  It was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon

Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and 

maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison.  Its actual military significance was rather marginal, although

generals such as John Everard of Droste and Zützen (1662–1726) commanded it.  For example, Prince-Elector Frederick Augustus II could only watch helplessly from the Königstein during the Seven Years' War, when right at the start

of the war in 1756 his army surrendered without a fight to the Prussian Army at the foot of the Lilienstein on the

other side of the Elbe.  The commandant of the fortress from 1753 was the electoral Saxon Lieutenant General, Michael

Lorenz von Pirch.  In August 1813 the clash at Krietzschwitz took place in front of its gates, an engagement that proved

an important precursor to the Battle of Kulm and the Battle of Leipzig.  In October 1866 Alexander von Rohrscheidt

(1808–1881) was nominated as commandant of the fortress.  It lost its military value with the development of long-range

guns at the beginning of the 19th century.  The last commandant of Königstein Fortress was Lieutenant Colonel Heinicke

who commanded it until 1913.  The fortress had to guard the Saxon state reserves and secret archives during times of

war.  In 1756 and 1813 Dresden's art treasures were also stored at the Königstein.  During the Second World War the

large casemates of the fortress were also used for such purposes.

The fortress was never conquered, it had too much of a chilling reputation after it had been expanded by Elector

Christian I.  Only the chimney sweep, Sebastian Abratzky, managed to climb the vertical sandstone walls in 1848. 

The Abratzky Chimney (Abratzky-Kamin) named after him is a grade IV (based on the Saxonsystem) climbing route

that may still be climbed today.  Because climbing over the wall is banned, climbers must abseil down the adjacent

wall again after climbing it.

Until 1922 the fortress was the best-known state prison in Saxony.  During the Franco-Prussian War and the two 

world wars the fortress was also used as a prisoner of war (PW) camp.  In the First World War, the castle was used

as a PW camp (Oflag) for French and Russian officers.  In the Second World War it again served as an Oflag

(Oflag IV-B), for British, French, Polish and other Allied officers.

After the Second World War the Red Army used the fortress as a military hospital.  From 1949 to 1955 it was used

as a so-called Jugendwerkhof for the re-education of delinquent youths and those who did not fit the image of a

socialist society.  Since 29 May 1955, the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic

value.  The museum has been managed as a satellite of the Bundeswehr Military History Museum in Dresden since

1990. (Immer weniger Besucher in Festung Königstein, Freie Presse dated 10 February 2011)

 (Andreas Steinhoff Photo)

Festung Königstein, view from the Elbe River.

 (Dieter Photo)

Festung Königstein .

 (Bautsch Photo)

Festung Königstein.

 (Rainer Lippert Photo)

Lauf an der Pegnitz: Burg Lauf (Wenzelschloss), was originally a medieval fortress in the town of Lauf an der

Pegnitz near Nürnberg. The German name Wenzelschloss ("Saint Wenceslas' Chateau") is derived from the statue

of Saint Wenceslas, on the facade of the entrance gate. The castle was built by the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles IV 

in 1356, on the ruins of an older castle.  The dominant feature of the castle is the hall of arms.  In 1934, under a layer

of old paint 112 coats of arms of noblemen of the Crown of Bohemia were discovered.  It is a significant collection

of Bohemian, Moravian and Silesian secular and ecclesiastical heraldry.

Lauf stands in an area called the Bohemian Palatinate, which was once part of the Bohemian crown lands.  In 1373

Emperor Charles IV ceded the castle along with parts of the Bohemian Palatinate to Otto V, Duke of Bavaria in

exchange for the Margraviate of Brandenburg.  Charles' son Wenceslaus IV lost the rest of the Palatinate in 1401.

 (Rainer Halama Photo)

Coats of arms, inside Burg Lauf.

 (Tilman2007 Photo)

Burg Lauf.

 (Tilman2007 Photo)

Burg Lauf.

 (Berndpreiss Photo)

Burg Lauf.

 (LoKiLeCh Photo)

Thallichtenberg: Burg Lichtenberg is a ruin of a spur castle, with a length of 425m (1,394 ft), marking it as the

largest castle ruin in Germany.  It is located in the district of Kusel in the Rhineland-Palatinate.  

The castle was built around 1200 and was owned until 1444 by the counts of Veldenz; after which it fell into the

ownership of the new dukedom of Palatinate-Zweibrücken.  Under the new rule, Burg Lichtenberg became the

administrative seat of Zweibrücken until the move of the administration to Kusel in 1758.  The castle remained

under the duchy until the dissolution of the Duchy of Zweibrücken in 1792.

This part of Germany west of the Rhine river was occupied by French Revolution troops in 1792, and in 1795, the

French dissolved the old borders and created new administrative districts, placing Lichtenberg Castle in the Saar

Department.  The town of Kusel was burnt down by French revolution troops in 1794.  Lichtenberg Castle was

plundered numerous times during the ensuing chaos that came with the French occupation, and in 1799, a fire caused

by the castle's inhabitants destroyed much of the castle.

With the defeat of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the subsequent withdrawal of French troops from

Germany, in 1816 the area west of the Rhine was given to the Duke of Saxony-Coburg-Gotha and became the

Princedom of Lichtenberg.  Tthis rule was short-lived, and in 1834 the princedom was sold to Prussia.  Lichtenberg

Castle fell into disrepair and ruin until, in 1895, the whole castle complex was placed under historical monument

protection.  At the end of the Second World War, the Prussian government fell, and in 1945 the district of Birkenfeld,

in which Lichtenberg Castle lay, became a part of the new state of Rhineland-Palatinate.  In 1971 the castle was handed

over by Rhineland-Palatinate to the district of Kusel, and restoration work began.  Some of the restorations include

the reconstruction of the tithe barn and the repair and roofing of the bergfried.

The horseshoe tower has been the meeting place for the University of Kaiserslautern since 1987.  The tower on the

southeast corner of the official administrative office also houses a restaurant, the Knight's Hall, and in the administrative

office building extension, a youth hostel.  In the lower bailey is a church that still conducts services for the parish of

Thallichtenberg.  From the bergfried, one can see the Remigiusberg monastery church and ruins of the nearby

Michelsburg castle, as well as the Potzberg hill.  (Visited 26 March 1983)

 (LoKiLeCh Photo)

Hufeisenturm, Burg Lichtenberg.

 (Muck Photo)

Burg Lichtenberg.

 (Triodus23 Photo)

Burg Lichtenberg.

 (Presse03 Photo)

Münzenberg: Burg Münzenberg is a ruined hill castle in the Wetteraukreis, Hesse.  It dates from the 12th century,

and is one of the best preserved castles from the High Middle Ages in Germany.

The first lord of nearby Arnsburg, Kuno von Arnsburg, served Emperor Heinrich IV as a Ministerialis in 1057. 

c1064 he married Gräfin Mathilde of the House of Bilstein.  Their daughter, Gertrud (b. c1065, d. before 1093)

married Eberhard von Hagen (1075-1122), lord of Burg Hayn near Frankfurt, who moved his seat to Arnsburg and

changed his name to "von Hagen und Arnsburg".  Under Eberhard's son, Konrad I (1093-1130) the family became

the most powerful in the Wetterau and the Rhine-Main region.  Konrad II exchanged properties with Fulda Abbey,

receiving the land around Münzenberg Castle.  His son, Kuno I (1151-1207), from 1156 styled himself von Münzenberg,

implying that by then a castle had been built at Münzenberg and the earlier one at Arnsburg had been vacated.

A striking feature of Münzenberg Castle is that it has two tall bergfried defensive towers.  Such a tower is a typical

feature of castles in the region, but there is usually only one, forming the strongest point of the castle.  The bergfrieds

at Münzenberg are both round, the taller one being 29 meters high.  The two bergfrieds stand at opposite ends of the

inner ward, called the Kernburg.  The inner ward is completely surrounded by an outer ward with an outer curtain

wall, providing defence in depth.  (Gärtner, Otto (1998). Kloster Arnsburg in der Wetterau (German). Verlag Karl

Robert Langewiescher Nachfolger Hans Köster KG)

Burg Münzenberg, ground plan, 1850.

 Münzenberg (Mintzenberg), Topographia Hassiae, Matthäus Merian, 1655.

 (Presse03 Photo)

Burg Münzenberg.

 (Johannes Robalotoff Photo)

Burg Münzenberg.

 (Tilman2007 Photo)

Burg Münzenberg.

 (Immanuel Giel Photo)

Neuleiningen: Burg Neuleiningen is a castle ruin on the eastern edge of the Palatinate Forest in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in the Bad Dürkheim district.  It was built in 1238-41 by Count Frederick III of Leiningen.  The French

destroyed it in 1690 and it has lain in ruins since that time.  The castle is located on a foothill of the Haardt on the

northeastern edge of the Palatinate Forest.  Its eponymous village is grouped around the castle, high above the left

bank of the Eckbach at an elevation of about 300 metres above sea level.  Near the castle is the Old Vicarage (Alte

Pfarrey), which was first recorded in 1524 and which houses a gourmet restaurant today.

Its name, like that of its sister castle, Altleiningen five kilometres to the southwest, is derived from the Frankish

noble family, the counts of Leiningen who rulled the territory of Leiningerland.  The castle was built following a

division of inheritance around 1240 by Count Frederick III of Leiningen.  Together with, Battenberg Castle, 1,400

metres to the south, the castle controlled the entrance to the Eckbach valley.  Passing between various lines of the

family, the castle remained the property of the Leiningens for over 200 years.  In 1468, Prince-Elector Frederick the

Victorious of the Palatinate became involved in inheritance disputes amongst the Leiningens and seized possession of

the castle by force.  In 1508, after passing through several intermediate arrangements, an agreement was reached:

the castle would be divided between the Bishopric of Worls and the counts of Leiningen-Westerburg.

In 1525, during the Peasants' War, the castle was opened to the rebellious farmers without a fight and, having been

hosted by Countess Eva (1481–1543) in a friendly and generous way, the farmers left without causing great damage. 

The castle only suffered minor damage in the Thirty Years' War.  During the War of the Palatine Succession, however,

invading French troops razed the entire site in 1690.  Its two owners, Leiningen-Westerburg and the Bishopric of

Worms, could not agree to rebuild the castle in the period that followed, with Leiningen being for, and Worms being

against, the idea.  In 1767, Charles of Leiningen-Westerburg finally sold the Leiningen half to Worms.

In the wake of the French Revolution, the castle ruins were seized by secular authorities and passed in 1804 into the

hands of the municipality of Neuleiningen, who, sold it just four years.  In 1874, Charles Emich of Leiningen-

Westerburg bought it back again for his family.

The castle is quadrangular, with a rectangular ground plan and bergfried towers projecting beyond the curtainwalls. 

Contrary to earlier views, the castle was built to the same pattern as French castles of the early 13th century in the 

Île-de-France style.  Its design was not copied from an existing castle; instead, it combined a French design with local

building traditions.  Most striking are its four, round towers and the large number of very narrow arrow slits 

(Schlitzscharten), for archers armed with bows and crossbows.  These Schlitzscharten are amongst the earliest examples

on German soil.  Thus, apart from Lahr Castle, of which little remains, Neuleiningen is the oldest quadrangular castle

in Germany.

The internal elements from the first phase of construction have been totally lost and can only be made out here and

there from excavations.  The present remains date to the 14th to early 17th centuries.  The most striking feature of

the castle is the stepped gable of the palas on the north side which, in its present guise, goes back to Landgrave Hesso

of Leiningen (before 1435–1467).  In the southeast corner the cellar of the Leiningen-Westerburg residence of around

1508 has survived.  This is where the Burgschänke inn was established in the second half of the 20th century.

Today, the southeast tower is an observation tower that is open to the public.  The two upper storeys of this tower have

been turned into a small local history museum that exhibits the stoneware products of an old local factory that closed in

1932, as well as other handicrafts.

The local village, which is connected to the castle both geographically and historically, was built around the same time

(13th century).  The village's historic buildings are fairly numerous, with only a few parallels in the region.  From the

observation tower of the castle there is an outstanding view of the Upper Rhine Valley to the east, the mountains of

the Palatinate Forest to the south and west and the massif of the Donnersberg to the northwest.  At the foot of the hill

village of Neuleiningen is the hamlet of Neuleiningen-Tal and several neighbouring villages.

 (Immanuel Giel Photo)

Burg Neuleiningen.

 (Claus Ableiter Photo)

Burg Neuleiningen.

 (Guido Radig

Kulmbach: Plassenburg is an impressive castle in Bavaria,  first mentioned in 1135.  The Plassenberg family

were ministeriales of the counts of Andechs (later the dukes of Andechs-Meranien) and used as their seat the

Plassenburg.  The House of Guttenberg, a prominent Franconian noble family, traces its origins back to 1149 with

a Gundeloh v. Blassenberg (Plassenberg).  The name Plassenburg is derived from Guttenberg and was adopted by a

Heinrich von Blassenberg around 1310.  From 1340, the Hohenzollerns governed their territories in Franconia from

the Plassenburg castle until 1604.  The Plassenburg was both a fortress and residence for the Hohenzollerns.

It was destroyed in 1554 at the end of the second Margravian War (1552–1554), when it was held by Margrave Albert

Alcibiades. The Plassenburg was later rebuilt by the architect Caspar Vischer as an impressive stronghold and as a

huge palace. In 1792, Margrave Alexander sold the Plassenburg to his cousin, the King of Prussia.  A combined

Bavarian and French army under the command of Jérôme Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, besieged the Plassenburg

in 1806.  In 1810, Kulmbach became Bavarian and the castle was used as a prison and as a military hospital.  During

the Second World War, the Organization Todt used the Plassenburg as a training camp and recreation home.  Today,

it is a museum and a venue for cultural events.  It contains a significant collection of Prussian military artifacts and portraits.

Plassenburg Castle was first mentioned in 1135, when it was described by Count Berthold II of Andechs as comes de

Plassenberch.  Presumably he was also the founder of the castle, which was built to the west of an earlier fortified

farmstead.  To begin with, the castle was a central supporting stronghold for the Meranian rulers of the Upper Main

and Franconian Forest.

After the death of the last Andechs-Meranian, Duke Otto VIII, his brother-in-law divided his inheritance.  Plassenburg

Castle, along with Kulmbach, Berneck, Goldkronach, Wirsberg, Trebgast, and Pretzendorf (now Himmelkron) went

to Herman III and Otto III, the Counts of Weimar-Orlamünde The two sons of Herman II (died 1247) and Beatrix of

Andechs-Merania initially ruled together as "Lords of Plassenburg".  After 1278 they divided the inheritance of their

father, whereupon Otto III was given sole possession of the domain of Plassenburg and the territory around Weimar. 

Otto III died in 1285 and the Plassenburg appeared soon afterwards in the hands of his son Otto IV.  His son in turn,

Count Otto VI of Orlamünde, who was the only Orlamünde since 1323 who was described as "Lord of Plassenburg",

pledged this lordship together with the Plassenburg, Kulmbach, Trebgast and Berneck in 1338 to Burgrave John II of 

Nürnberg.  As a result, after Otto VI's death in 1340, Plassenburg fell to the Burgraves of Nürnberg from the House

of Hohenzollern.

Gradually, Plassenburg Castle developed into a new centre of power for the Hohenzollerns.  At the time of Burgrave 

Frederick V of Nürnberg (who reigned 1357–1397), the Plassenburg had already outstripped the Cadolzburg, which

was a traditional burgravial residence.  In 1397 Burgrave Frederick V stepped down from the business of government

and chose the Plassenburg as his retirement home.  The Hohenzollerns' territory in Franconia was divided between his sons, John III and Frederick VI, later to be the Elector of Brandenburg, in accordance with the Dispositio Fridericiana 

of 1385.  Thus, the Plassenburg became the centre of power for the so-called Principality of the Mountains (Fürstentum

ob dem Gebirg), later the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Kulmbach.  After the death of John III in 1420, his estate fell to

his brother, Frederick, who, in 1421, created the office of "Captain of the Mountains" to rule his domain.  Plassenburg

remained the administrative centre of this hilly principality until after the middle of the 16th century.

The imprisonment of the Countess Barbara of Brandenburg in March 1493, began the sad chapter of Plassenburg

Castle as a family prison.  This reached a peak in February 1515 when Margrave Casimir of Brandenburg-Kulmbach 

locked up his father, Margrave Frederick I of Brandenburg-Ansbach, in a tower room at Plassenburg from which he

could not leave for 12 years.  In 1542, Margrave Albert II of Brandenburg-Kulmbach moved the Residenz of the 

Margraves of Brandenburg-Kulmbach for the first time from Plassenburg, which continued to serve primarily as a c

ountry fortress to Bayreuth from then on.  (Wolfgang Schoberth, Doris Leithner: Text und Kommentar zu, Die

Gefangenen auf der Plassenburg“. Reihe: Buchners Schulbibliothek der Moderne, H. 22. Buchner, Bamberg 2005)

Plassenburg, engraving, Mattäus Merian, 1656.

 (Rheinhold Möller Photo)


 (Diabas Photo)

Plassenburg, aerialview.

 (Benreis Photo)


 (Luidger Photo)

Runkel: Burg Runkel is a ruined hill castle dating from the High Middle Ages, located in the city of Runkel in the 

Landkreis (District) of Limburg-Weilburg in the state of Hesse.  Nestled in the valley of the Lahn River, the town and

castle are, i 3.75 mi (6.04 km) east of Limburg an der Lahn, 18.6 mi (29.9 km).  The hill fort is situated at 492 ft (150 m)

above sea level and rises about 115 ft (35 m) to 131 ft (40 m) above the valley of the Lahn.

Run – kall” is the Celtic word for a rock mountain, and as the hill had already attracted their attention, they may have

given it its name.  In 1159, Sigfridus de Runkel was mentioned in documents, but the castle had been built a little earlier

by a man with the same name, probably on the orders of the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa.  It served to

protect the strategic pass between Weilburg and the southern side of the region.  At the time of the castle was built,

there was just a ferry.  The bridge was not built until the Late Middle Ages.

Around 1250, a dispute over the sale and inheritance of the property arose between Siegfried V von Runkle and his

cousin, Heinrich (died 1288).  In 1276, as a result of their quarrel, the cousin was driven from the castle.  He moved to

the other side of the Lahn River, where he built the Schadeck Castle as Trutzburg and created the Westerberg line. 

Dietrich III von Runkel enlarged his Herrschaft in 1376 to the Zehnten ( tithing districts) of Schupbach and Aumenau 

and built a more modern castle next to the original building.  Dietrich IV (died after 1462), gained the Grafschaft of

Wied, by marrying Anastasia the Wied-Isenburg heiress, which began the Wied-Runkel line and increased his influence

in the region.  In 1440, the building of the stone bridge over the Lahn River was commissioned but, because of a dispute

over the proceeds from the duties and tolls, it was not finished until 1448.  In 1543 Philipp Melanchthon, a Protestant

reformer, visited the castle as the guest of Count Johann IV von Wied-Runkel (died 1581), the nephew of the 

Archbishop of Cologne, Hermann of Wied.

In 1595, a new dispute began over the castle, this time between the two lines, Wied-Isenburg and Wied-Runkel, and

the County of Wied was divided between them.  Wilhelm IV von Wied-Runkel was given the “Obere Grafschaft Wied" 

(Upper County of Wied), including Runkel and Dierdorf, while his nephew Johann Wilhelm von Wied Runkel was

left with the “Niedere Grafschaft Wied"(Lower County of Wied ), including Wied, Braunsberg and Isenburg.  As a

result, Runkel became the center of the Upper County of Wied.

In 1634, during the Thirty Years' War, the Croats under the command of an Imperial General, Graf von Isolani, burned

the city and castle of Runkel.  The Upper Castle was left in the ruins while the Lower Castle was rebuilt in 1642.  In

1692 Friedrich von Wied-Runkel left to his grandson Maximilian Heinrich von Wied-Runkel the Upper County of

Wied, especially enlarged with Isenburg, which had belonged to the Lower County of Wied until then, and the County

of Wied-Runkel was born.

In the eighteenth Century, the castle often changed its name and banners as the armies of various countries moved

back and forth across the valley of the Lahn.  The banners flew above the Castle for the Electorate of Hannover in

1719, the Electorate of Saxony in 1758, the Kingdom of France in 1759, and the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt in

1796 (after a night-long fight with the French in the streets of Runkel).  In 1791, the Holy Roman Emperor, Leopold II,

raised the County of Wied-Runkel to the rank of principality.

Under the Treaty of the Confederation of the Rhine (Rheinbundakte), the Principality lost its independence in 1806 and

went to the newly created Duchy of Nassau on the other side of the Lahn River.  The Duchy had been carved out of the

old Grand Duchy of Cleves and Berg (whose remaining lands went to Prussia in 1813) but it lasted for only 60 years

before it was annexed in 1866 by Prussian.  In the beginning, for several years, Prince Karl Ludwig Friedrich Alexander

von Wied, demoted to a minor nobleman, was the administrator of the new District of Runkel for his superiors, the

Dukes of Nassau.

Prince Karl was one of the last two surviving male members of the House of Wied-Runkel.  He died in March 1824,

followed a month later by his childless brother, Prince Friedrich Ludwig.  The Wied-Runkel line went into the night

with the brothers, leaving the Castle to the Wied-Neuwied line and its head, Prince Johann Karl August von Wied,

their father's third cousin.

Today, the castle is owned by Maximillian, Prince of Wied who lives at Neuwied Castle.  Runkel castle houses a

museum, a chapel, an archive and the private wing of the owner's great uncle Metfried, Prince of Wied.  The Upper

Castle is still in ruins and inaccessible to visitors but it is still possible to enter the main keep.  The castle consists of

an upper or main castle and a lower castle.  The Upper Castle has been in ruins since it was destroyed in the Thirty

Years' War, but it is still walkable. 

At the highest point of the rock, above the existing structure, in the Lahn bridge ( built between 1440 and 1448 ), is

the keep, which can be climbed.  Standing around the mighty ruins of the palace, the keep and another former

residential buildings form the appearance of a shield wall on the Lahn side.  At both ends, each tower is about 131.25

feet (40 meters ) wide, with the same height and thickness of the Keep. It is unusual for a castle to have three keeps so

it can be said that the Runkel Castle is a rarity.

The Lower Castle, after the destruction of the Thirty Years' War in the 17th and 18th Centuries, was rebuilt and

expanded.  It now consists of two or three-story buildings, one of which, shaped like an U, connects with the Upper

Castle to form an enclosed courtyard.  The other buildings, formerly used for farming, are located within a courtyard,

which is surrounded by a circular wall.  Unlike the Upper Castle, the buildings of the Lower Castle are well preserved

and, for most of the time, are still in use today.

A museum, a chapel, archives and the offices of the Princes of Wied are located in the Lower Castle.  Metfried, Prince

of Wied (brother of Friedrich Wilhelm, Prince of Wied) and his family occasionally are in residence.  Other parts of

the buildings are also either inhabited or in use.  One is a storage room for agricultural vehicles.  At the Upper Castle,

the visitors can visit the parts that are not under reconstruction.  From the castle’s observation deck, there is an excellent

view of the city of Runkel, the medieval Lahn Bridge (Lahnbrücke) and, on the other side of the Lahn River, the

Schadeck Castle, which is still preserved.  In addition to the heritage preservation, the castle has received the status

of “Protected” in the case of war under the Hague Convention.  (Michael Losse, Die Lahn, Burgen and Schlösser (The

Lahn River, Castles and Forts), (Petersburg: Michael Imhof Verlag, 2007)

Burg Runkel and Burg Schadeck in 1655, from the Topographia Hassiae by Matthäus Merian.

 (KlausFoehl Photo)

Burg Runkel.

 (Mr. Nutt Photo)

Burg Runkel.

 (Bytfisch Photo)

Burg Runkel.

(Author's artwork)

Burg Gutenfels overlooking Pfalzgrafenstein, on the Rhine River, Germany, Oil on canvas, 18 X 24. 

 (Author Photo)

Kaub: Burg Gutenfels and Pfalzgrafenstein on the Rhine River

 (Author Photos)

Burg Gutenfels on the Rhine River, Germany.  

 (Author Photo)

Kaub: 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.

 (Author Photo)

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein 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)

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.  (Visited 27 Mar 1982, 28 Nov 1982, 5 March 1990, 16 May 1990, May 2008, 1997)

 (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

living rock!

 (CB Photo)

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


(Ulli1105 Photo)

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.  

 (ArtMechanic Photo)

Nürnberger Burg 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.

 (Kolossos Photo)

Nürnberger Burg, 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.

 (Author Photo)

Eisenach: 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)

 (Author Photo)

Burg Gleichen, Thuringia, Germany.  Gleichen Castle owes its fame to the legend of the bigamous Count von Gleichen,

who returned home from the Crusades with a second wife.  The three castles known collectively as the "Drei Gleichen"

are Gleichen Castle, Mühlburg Castle and Wachsenburg Castle. They are approx. 20 km from Erfurt in the Drei

Gleichen conservation area.

Burg Gleichen, the Wanderslebener Gleiche (1221 ft. above sea level), was besieged unsuccessfully by the emperor

Henry IVin 1088.  It was the seat of a line of counts, one of whom, Ernest III, a crusader, is the subject of a romantic

legend.  Having been captured, he was released from his imprisonment by a Turkish woman, who returned with him

to Germany and became his wife, a papal dispensation allowing him to live with two wives at the same time.  After

belonging to the elector of Mainz the castle became the property of Prussia in 1803.

 (Zerbie Photo)

Burg Gleichen, aerial view.

 (Author Photo)

Burg Muhlberg, Thuringia, Germany.  Mühlburg (1309 ft. above sea level), the second castle of the Drei Gleichen

group, existed as early as 704 and was besieged by Henry IV in 1087.  It came into the hands of Prussia in 1803.

 (CTHOE Photo)

Veste Wachsenburg (1358 ft.), the third castle of the Drei Gleichen group, was still inhabited in 1911 and contained a

collection of weapons and pictures belonging to its owner, the duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, whose family obtained

possession of it in 1368.  It was built about 935.  The castle was extensively rebuilt in the 17th and 19th century. The

well-preserved castle (most recently restored in the 1990s) now houses a museum, a hotel and a restaurant.  It was built

by Hersfeld Monastery. The castle stand on a hill approximately 93 meters high.  In 1441 a notorious robber baron took

control of the castle and made it his base for his raids on the merchants of Erfurt.

(Author's artwork)

Burg Hohenzollern, Germany.  Oil on canvas, 18 X 24. 

(A. Kniesel Photo, 1 Nov 2006)

Burg 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

dilapidated buildings.

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.

(Author's artwork)

Heidelberger Schloss, as it might have looked before its destruction.  Oil on canvas, 11 X 14. 

 (Pumuckel42 Photo)

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.

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)

Coburg: Veste Coburg (Fortress Coburg), 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)

  (Störfix Photo)

Veste Coburg.

 (Presse03 Photo)

Veste Coburg, aerial view.

 (GZagatta Photo)

Mechernich: 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)

 (Charlie1965nrw Photo)

Burg Satzvey, main house.

 (Dguendel Photo)

Burg Satzvey, gate house.

 (Alf van Beem Photo)

Burg Satzvey.

 (ElizabethMargit Photo)

Schloss Braunfels, 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)

Schloss Braunfels.

(I, ArtMechanic Photo, 22 June 2005)

Schloss Braunfels.

 (R. Wallenstein Photo, 29 Jan 2006)

Anweiler: Reichsburg Trifels, 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. 

Reichsburg Trifels 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.


Singen: Festung Hohentwiel (Fortress Hohentwiel) is a 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.

Festung Hohentwiel, 1643, Merian illustration.

 (Frank Vincentz Photo)

Festung Hohentwiel.

 (Hansueli Krapf Photo)

Festung Hohentwiel, aerial view.

 (Frank Vincentz Photo)

Festung Hohentwiel.

 (Gladys80 Photo)

Festung Hohentwiel.

Siege of Festung Hohentwiel, 1641.

Blockade of Festung Hohentwiel, 1644.

Festung Hohentwiel, 1692.

Festung Hohentwiel, ground plan, 1735.

 (Peter Stein Photo)

Festung Hohentwiel, aerial view.

 (Heribert Pohl Photo)

Neuffen: Burg Hohenneuffen 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  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

three countries.

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)

Burg Hohenneufen, aerial view.

 (Swabian Tourismusverband Photo)

Burg Hohenneufen, aerial view.

 (MFSG Photo)

Burg Hohenneufen, aerial view.

 (Aerial video capture Photo)

Burg Hohenneufen, aerial view.

 (Genet Photo)

The Heidengraben, 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)

 (Aspirinics Photo)

The tree-covered wall is a remnant of the inner fortification ring on the northern edge of Elsachstadt.

Course of the Heidengraben.

 (BKLuis Photo)

Burg Pappenheim (Burg Kalteneck) was the scene of numerous confrontations of the dukes of Bavaria and King Henry Raspe against the imperial forces in the 13th Century.  Battles andconflict circled the castle in several waves until the 14th and 15 Century.  In 1633, during the Thirty Yearsè War, the castle and town were conquered and destroyed by Swedish regiments.  In 1703 during the Spanish war of succession, Pappenheim was again looted, this time by French troops and the castle was partially destroyed after bombardment.  During the War of the Spanish Succession, the castle was shelled for two days by French troops, until it was finally captured.  Since then the castle has been uninhabited.  Pappenheim is a town in the Weißenburg-Gunzenhausen district, in Bavaria, situated on the Altmühl river.

 (Tilman2007 Photo)

Burg Pappenheim.

 (Dark Avenger Photo)

Burg Pappenheim.

 (Derzno Photo)

Burg von Pappenheim.

(Author's artwork)

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany.  Oil on canvas, 18 X 24. 

(Cezary Piwowarski Photo, 1 June 2007)

Hohenschwangau: 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)

 (Taxiarchos228 Photo)

Schloss Neuschwanstein, inner court.

 (Zeppelubil Photo)

Schloss Neuschwanstein.

 (Woffka rus Photo)

Hohenschwangau: Schloss Hohenschwangau is located directly across from Schloss Neuschwanstein, 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)

 (Zairon Photo)

Schloss Hohenschwangau.

 (Softeis Photo)

Ettal: 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.

(Author's artwork)

Schloss Lichtenstein, Germany.  Oil on canvas, 8 X 10. 

 (Donald Photo, 4 May 2010)

Honau: 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.

 (MFSG Photo)

Schloss Lichtenstein, aerial view.

(Author's artwork)

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.

 (Wrtalya Photo)

Haut-Koenigsburg, Alsace, France, aerial view, with La Vancelle in the background.

 (Fr Antunes Photo)

Château du Haut-Kœnigsbourg, view looking East.

 (Tobi 87 Photo, 6 June 2009)

Braubach: 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.

(Manfred Hyde Photo)

Trechtingshausen: Burg Rheinstein stands near the town of Trechtingshausen in Rhineland-Palatinate.  The castle

was built c1316/1317.  Burg Rheinstein 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)

Burg Rheinstein.

 (Steffen Schmitz Photo, 11 Aug 2012)

Cochem: Reichsburg Cochem stands above the largest town in the Cochem-Zell district in Rhineland-Palatinate. 

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 III, 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)

Reichsburg Cochem overlooking the Mosel River.

 (Johannes Robalotoff Photo)

Eppstein: 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). 

Eppstein 2002)

Ground plan of Burg Eppstein.

 (burgverein-eppstein Photo)

Model of Burg Eppstein inside the castle museum.

 (Muck Photo)

Burg Eppstein.

 (Karsten11 Photo)

Burg Eppstein.

(Berthold Werner Photo, 28 Apr 2015)

Sigmaringen: Schloss Sigmaringen Castle 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

until 1785.

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)

 (Salsaloco Photo)

Schloss Sigmaringen.

 (Benreis Photo)

Wertheim: Burg Wertheim (castle) overlooks the town of Werthime, which has a medieval town center with half-timbered houses and small streets.  Wertheim was founded between the 7th and 9th century.  Its castle was built during the 12th century and was the residence of the Counts of Wertheim, a branch of the Franconian noble family Reginbodons who named themselves after the town.  When the last Count of Wertheim died without a male heir, it was ruled by the House of Löwenstein-Wertheim.

The castle was expanded upon until into the 17th century.  In 1619 it was partially destroyed by an explosion, and during the Thirty Years’ War it was occupied by the Swedes and heavily bombarded by imperial troops, after which it lay in ruins.  Beginning in 1982, the ruins were renovated with support from the state of Baden-Württemberg, and secure stairs have been added which allow one to explore the different sections of the castle.  The ruins of the castle keep (built around 1200) and the palace from the 13th century can be visited.  The construction of the city fortifications also began c1200, eventually enclosing the castle and town with a ring wall.

Wertheim developed into the centre of the county of Wertheim. However, in 1806, the county of Wertheim was divided between the Grand Duchy of Baden, who received area on the left bank, and the Kingdom of Bavaria, who were given the territories on the right bank.

 (Anne Stauf Photo)

Burg Wertheim.

 (Holger Uwe Schmidt Photo)

Burg Wertheim.

 (Holger Uwe Schmidt Photo)

Burg Wertheim.

 (Roland Geider Photo)

Burg Wertheim.

 (Christian Horvat Photo)

Würzburg: Marienberg Fortress (Festung Marienberg) is a prominent landmark on the left bank of the Main river

in Würzburg, in the Franconia region of Bavaria.  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 Years' War, the castle was reconstructed 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.

The fortress is located on a prominent spur of the 266-metre-high (873 ft) Marienberg which rises about 100 metres

over the Main river on the opposite side of the city of Würzburg.  On the slopes around the castle are vineyards.  

Around 1000 BC, a Celtic refuge castle was built on the site by members of the Urnfield culture.  Archaeological

findings indicate that the locals of the later Hallstatt culture had trade contacts with Ancient Greece and marked an

extreme northern point on the wine trade network of the time circa 500 BC.  The hill may have been a Fürstensitz,

the seat of a "prince".

From 100 AD onwards control of the area changed hands several times between different "tribes" (Suevi, Marcomanni,

Allemanni, and Burgundians), before the area was taken by the Franks in the 6th century.  Würzburg became the

occasional seat of a Franconian-Thuringian duke under the Merovingians.  His court resided on the right bank of the

Main, however.  In the 7th century, a written document mentioned Uburzi (which later became Virteburch and then

"Würzburg"), referring to the fortification on the hill.  The name Marienberg was in use only from high medieval

times onward.  After missionary work in the area led by Saint Kilian in the late 7th century, in the early 8th century,

the Franks under Duke Hedan II constructed a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary and a fortification (earth ramparts

and half-timbered houses) on the hill.  The chapel – probably built at the site of a former pagan holy site dedicated to

a mother goddess – and later churches that replaced it, was the reason why the hill and fortress eventually became

known as Marienberg ("Mary's Mount").  This was likely the first Christian church built of stone north of the Alps 

outside of the territory formerly controlled by Rome (i.e. east of the Rhine and on the far side of the Limes).

Saint Bonbiface came to Franconia in 719 and at that point the Duke of Würzburg title ceased to exist.  Some of the

local clergy practiced pagan customs.  Boniface appointed his follower Saint Burchard as the first Bishop of Würzburg 

in 741.  Saint Mary's Church (explicitly mentioned in a document from 822) became the See's cathedral.  Over the

next decades, the town of Würzburg began to grow and in 788 the hill-top church lost the role of cathedral to a

predecessor of Würzburg Cathedral (except for a brief interlude after the latter was destroyed in a fire in 855).  At

that point, the remains of Saint Kilian, Saint Colman and Saint Totnan were moved from Saint Mary's to be reinterred

at the new cathedral.  However, Saint Mary's continued to serve as the burial site for the intestines of the Prince-Bishops. 

Their bodies were buried in the cathedral, their hearts until 1573 at Ebrach Abbey.

No mention is made of any fortification on Marienberg until, in the 13th century, the Prince-Bishops of Würzburg

moved their residence to Marienberg.  Beginning around 1200, medieval fortifications were constructed on the hill. 

Under Bishop Konrad von Querfurt, Saint Mary's became the court chapel of the See.  He and Bishop Hermann von

Lobdeburg built what is today known as the Bergfried and the first palas.  Lobdeburg used the castle as a temporary

residence in 1242.  Only after relations between the bishop and the people of the town - who supported the Emperor

against their bishop - deteriorated in 1253, did he move his court permanently to the fortress.  His successors remained

there until the 18th century.  Relations between the bishop and the town were fraught and the main reason for keeping

an armed contingent stationed in the fortress.  After 1308, the palas was enlarged under Bishop Andreas von Gundelfingen 

with construction paid for by the townspeople to compensate their liege lord for a riot that year.  Since access to water

was at a premium on the hill and earlier attempts to link the fortress to a spring at Höchberg were less than satisfactory,

the Tiefer Brunnen ("deep well", going down 100 metres) was dug inside the fortress.  The reign of Bishop Otto II

von Wolfskeel, saw the construction of an additional ring of fortifications.  In 1373, the burghers of Würzburg attacked

the fortress with catapults whilst the fortress fired back with blackpowder weapons, the first documented use of guns

in Würzburg.  The first half of the 15th century saw a decline of the Hochstift and construction on the fortress mostly

ceased.  Only after 1466, under Bishop Rudolf von Scherenberg were more fortifications and the Scherenbergtor added,

as well as some towers and outbuildings.

Bishop Lorenz von Bibra had the fortress rebuilt as a Renaissance residence and added fortifications after 1495.  In

1525, during the German Peasants' War (Bauernkrieg), the fortress successfully withstood a siege by peasants led by 

Götz von Berlichingen.  In May of that year, a peasant army of 15,000 men surrounded the fortification, but could not

penetrate the concentric walls.  By this time the ruling Prince-Bishop Konrad II of Thüngen had already fled the fortress. 

The defence was commanded by the knight Sebastian von Rotenhan and Frederick I, Margrave of Brandenburg-

Ansbach.  When their political leader, Florian Geyer, went to Rothenburg ob der Tauber in early June to procure the

heavy guns needed to attempt to breach the walls, the leaderless peasant army camped out around the castle allowed

itself to be outflanked by the professional army of the Swabian League.  In the ensuing battle, more than 8,000 peasants

were killed by the army of the princes.  Bishop Konrad von Thüngen was able to return to his fortress, from which he

had earlier fled.  Also that year, sculptor Tilman Riemenschneider was imprisoned in the fortress and tortured along

with the other members of Würzburg's city council - as punishment for allying themselves with the peasants.

Bishop Julius Echter von Mespelbrunn took office in 1573 and again reconstructed the fortress and increased the size

of the fortifications further after a fire in 1572 had damaged much of the medieval castle.  Under his reign, the

transformation of the fortress into a Renaissance residence was completed.  In 1600, a fire destroyed the north wing

of the main building and damaged some of the towers and the chapel.  By 1607, the northern part of the fortress had

been rebuilt.  The goal was a rectangular four-wing palace, with towers at the corners, in accordance with the fashion

of the time.  However, the fourth tower was never built.  Echter also had the chapel rebuilt and added a new well house.

In 1631, after several days of fighting the fortress was taken by Swedish forces under Gustav II Adolf of Sweden in

the Thirty Years' War.  Swedish troops plundered the fortress.  Most of the well-known library was carried off to

 Uppsala.  The fortress was held by the Swedish and their allies until 1635.  Bernard of Saxe-Weimar had been

appointed Duke of Franconia.  In 1635, Bishop Franz von Hatzfeld was able to return to Würzburg.  After 1642, the

princely residence was completely rebuilt and redesigned under Bishop Johann Philipp von Schönborn.  In 1648, the

fortress became a Reichsfestung and its fortifications were again increased to a considerable extent over the next decades.

After 1708, the palas (Fürstenhaus) and church were redesigned in Baroque style.  The fortifications achieved their

current form with the addition of a number of outer works to the southeast (Höllenschlund) in 1711-1715.  In 1712,

Charles VI was received by the Prince-Bishop at the castle, the last time a Holy Roman Emperor visited the fortress. 

Shortly thereafter, in 1719/20 the court of the Bishops moved into a palace on the other side of the Main river which

was later replaced by today's Würzburg Residence.  Marienberg now became just a military structure.  Work on the

last tower to be built (Maschikuliturm) began in 1724.

The fortress saw repeated action during the wars of 1795-1815.  In 1796, during the War of the First Coalition, the

well-stocked fortress was handed over by its garrison to the French.  In 1800/01, however, it was successfully defended

against a new French attack by Imperial General Dall'Aglio during the War of the Second Coalition.  In 1803, the

fortress was occupied by troops of the Electorate of Bavaria after the Bishopric of Würzburg was secularized.  From

1805-1814, Marienberg was a fortress of the Grand Duchy of Würzburg, part of the Confederation of the Rhine, the

puppet state of the First French Empire.  In 1813/14, French troops tenaciously defended the fortress against coalition

forces.  The French Emperor Napoleon himself visited the fortress in 1806, in 1812 before the Russian campaign and

twice in 1813.

In 1814, Fortress Marienberg passed to the Kingdom of Bavaria.  The Prussians under Edwin Freiherr von Manteuffel 

bombarded the fortress from the south in 1866 during the Austro-Prussian War.  Marienberg lost its official status as

"fortress" in 1867.  During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870/71 it was used as a garrison and prison camp.  Due to

disuse, by 1900 the fortress had fallen into disrepair.

From 1914-18, during the First World War, the fortress served as barracks for artillery troops.  During the German

revolution revolutionaries seized control of the fortress in 1918 but it was retaken by government troops.  After the

war, the Fürstenbau served as a barracks for the Landespolizei (state police), as a military depot and as an emergency

accommodation (100 apartments).  In 1935, the Bavarian Administration of State-Owned Palacews, gardens and Lakes 

became the owner of the fortress and began the restoration of the castle..

Towards the end of the Second World War, the Echterbastei served as a medical depot and then as a depository of

cultural treasures.  During the bombing of Würzburg by the RAF on 16 March 1945, significant parts of the fortress

were destroyed by fire caused by incendiary bombs.  Reconstruction commenced after 1950 and was finished only

in 1990.  Given the repeated destruction of the fortress' structures over the centuries, most recently and significantly

in the bombing of 1945, many of the edifices visible today have been reconstructed to a lesser or greater extent. 

Surrounding the inner court is the four-wing Fürstenbau.  Three of its four corners are marked by towers (clockwise

from the northwest) KiliansturmMarienturm and Randersackererturm.  These mostly date to the rebuilding of the

castle in the early 17th century.  The Fürstenbau itself mostly reflects later 16th/17th century architecture and design

but also features the Bibra Treppe (stairway) built in 1511.  In the great hall (Fürstensaal) some 13th-century structures have been revealed.

The Fürstenbau is surrounded by medieval fortifications (walls and towers), enclosing an outer ward known

as Scherenbergzwinger (actually built under Bishop Otto von Wolfskeel).  To the east this includes the Fürstengarten,

a formal Baroque garden facing the city. Entrance to the inner castle is via the Gothic Scherenbergtor.

Beyond a moat, crossed by a stone bridge which in 1716 replaced the previous drawbridge, lie the outer ring of

fortifications and the Echtersche Vorburg.  This three-wing part of the fortress includes a large horse trough in the

middle of a courtyard, stables and the Echterbastei with Echtertor.  Most of these were built during Bishop Echter's

reign and under his successors in the 17th century.

The outer court is made up of the Neues Zeughaus and the Kommandantenhaus (both early 18th century). Access to

this part of the fortress is by the Schönborntor.  The outer bastions,  Bastei CesarBastei St. Johann NepomukBastei

St. Johann Baptist and Bastei St. Nikolaus, surrounding the castle were built under Johann Philipp von Schönborn

from 1649 to 1658.  Further out, more bastions once existed, but some were built over or are now covered by parks. 

However, extensive outworks from the early 18th century remain around the core fortress, notably to the west.  These

are pierced by the inner and outer Höchberger Tor.  To the south is the squat Maschikuliturm, designed by Balthasar

Neumann, architect of the Residenz, the last tower to be added to the fortress in the 1720s.  The south-easternmost point

is the bastion Höllenschlund.

Today, Festung Marienberg is mostly accessible to the public.  This includes the Scherenbergtor (gate), the Burgfried 

(keep), Saint Mary's Church and the well house.  Since 1946, the Baroque Zeughaus (armory), originally built 1702-1712

but reconstructed after being destroyed in 1866 and 1945, houses the Museum für Franken, formerly the Mainfränkishes

Museum, a collection of Franconian works of art from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period, including world-famous

Gothic sculptures by Tilman Riemenschneider.  There is also a collection of earlier artefacts from Franconia, stretching

back to the paleolithic period.  Founded in 1913 as Fränkisches Luitpoldmuseum in the town, the museum's previous

location was destroyed by British bombers in March 1945.  In 1950-1954, the Echterbastei (also damaged in the bombing)

was rebuilt and the museum expanded into this part of the fortress.

The Fürstenbaumuseum in the Fürstenbau (palas) of the fortress, established in the 1930s (originally as two museums),

offers a stroll through 1,200 years of Würzburg's history.  It features the Bibra Stairs and apartments, and the Julius

Echter apartments.  These do not contain the original furnishments (either lost in the Swedish sacking of the castle or

transported to the new Residenz in 1720), but period pieces.  There are also exhibits of ecclesial treasures as well as

on the history of Würzburg and the fortress.  There are also two restaurants in the fortress.  (Scherer, Thomas (1998). 

Festung Marienberg - Burgführer (German). Verlag Edm. von König)

Festung Marienberg, 1493.

 (DXR Photo)

Maschikuliturm, part of Festung Marienberg, view from the south.

 (Krzysztof Golik Photo) 

Festung Marienberg, Echtertor (inner gate) with Saint George slaying the dragon.

 (Tilman2007 Photo)

Festung Marienberg, Neutor (inner gate).

 (Rainer Lippert Photo)

Festung Marienberg, Scherenbergtor (outer gate).

 (Daniel Vorndran Photo)

 Festung Marienberg, view from the West.

 (Avda Photo)

Festung Marienberg.

 (USAAF Photo)

Festung Marienberg, aerial view of bomb damage, taken fall 1945.

 (SimonWaldherr Photo)

Festung Marienberg, aerial view.

 (Trond Strandsberg Photo)

Festung Marienberg.

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."

Order book, soft cover or hard cover:

Order in Canada: paperback



Nook book:

The list of German Palaces (Schlosser) is long and extensively covered on the Internet.  The ones I would recommend visiting include the following:

Schloß Ahrensburg (29 June 1991)

Schloß Amerang

Wasserburg Anholt (28 July 1990)

Ansbach Residenz (18 Dec 1982, 10 July 1983)

Residenzschloß Arolsen

Schloß Aschach

Schloß Auel

Schloß Augustenburg, Karlsruhe-Durlach

Schloß Augustusburg, Brühl (5 Aug 1982, 15 July 1983)

Schloß Bad Berleburg

Schloß Baldern

Burg Bartenstein (27 March 1960, 11 June 1960, 6 Oct 1960, 20 May 1962, 27 March 1982, 28 Nov 1982, 5 March 1990, Nov 1997)

Zollernschloß Balingen (27 March 1983, 26 Nov 1989)

Bayreuth Eremitage (21 Feb 1983)

Bayreuth Neues Schloß (21 Feb 1983)

Jagdschloß Benrath

Schloß Bentheim (3 Aug 1982)


Schloß Biebrich (19 Feb 1983)

Schloß Broich, Mülheim a.d. Ruhr

Schloß Bruchsal (10 Oct 1982, 21 Feb 1983, 26 March 1983, 24 Feb 1990, Sep 1997)

Schloß Augustusburg, Brühl (5 Aug 1982)

Residenzschloß Bückeburg (12 June 1983, 17 July 1991)

Schloß Büdingen (11 June 1983)

Schloß Bürresheim (5 Aug 1982)

Burg Burghausen (31 Dec 1982)

Schloß Burgsteinfurt

Burg Berwartstein, Erlenbach (27 March 1960, 11 June 1960, 6 Oct 1960, 20 May 1962, 27 March 1982, 27 Nov 1982, 5 March 1990, 10 Sep 1997)

Schloß Celle (25-26 July 1982)

Schloß Charlottenburg (26 Sep 1981, 30 Dec 1990)

Jagdschloß Clemenswerth, Sögel (14 June 1983)

Schloß Colmberg

Klosterburg Großcomburg (19 Dec 1982)

Veste Coburg (20-21 Feb 1983, 28 Dec 1990)

Fürstliches Residenzschloß, Detmold

Diezer Grafenschloß (20 Feb 1983, 13 Aug 1991)

Schloß Donaueschingen (24 Apr 1982)

Dornumer Schloß (14 June 1983)

Burg Drachenfels (Oct 1981)

Wasserschloß Dyck

Schloß Egg

Schloß Eggersberg (29 Aug 1991)

Schloß Eisenbach (20 Feb 1983)

Schloß Ellingen (10 July 1983)

Schloß Ellwangen (19 Dec 1982)

Burg Eppstein (16 June 1990)

Schloß Erbach

Festung Ehrenbreitstein (8-9 Oct 1981, 17 Aug 1991, 1 June 2008)

Großherzogliches Schloß, Eutin

Burg Eltz (8 Oct 1981, 4 July 1982, 31 May 2008)

Burg Falkenberg

Schloß Falkenlust, Brühl

Schloß Fasanerie, Fulda (20 Feb 1983)

Schloß Favorite, Rastatt (21 Feb 1982, 16 May 1982, 16 Oct 1982, 17 April 1983)

Schloß Fulda (20 Feb 1983)

Schloß Gelting

Gelnhausen (11 June 1983)

Schloß Gifhorn

Schloß Glücksburg (27 July 1982)

Klosterburg Großcomburg, Schwabisch Hall (19 Dec 1982)

Goslar (25 July 1982)

Schloß Gottorf, Schleswig (2 Aug 1982, 15 June 1991)

Götzenburg (27 Dec 1990)

Jagdschloß Grunewald, Berlin

Burg Guttenberg (9 April 1990)

Schloß Hämelschenburg, Emmerthal (13 June 1983)

Schloß Harburg (1 Jan 1983)

Burg Hardenburg (15 Sep 1959, 24 Feb 1990)

Heidelberger Schloß (13 June 1979, 21 Aug 1981, 1 May 1982, 9 Oct 1982, 23 April 1983, 12 Nov 1989, 13 Dec 1989, 26 Feb 1991)


Schloß Herrenchiemsee (28 Aug 1982, 19 July 1983)

Schloß Herzberg

Burg Hirschorn (9 March 1990)

Schloß Hohenaschau (28 Dec 1982)

Burg Hohenrechberg (18 Sep 1982)

Schloß Hohenschwangau (2 Jan 1982)

Schloß Hohentübingen (29 Aug 1982, 27 March 1983, 7 May 1990)

Burg Hohenzollern, Hechingen (22 Aug 1981, 22 June 1982, 29 Aug 1982, 27 Mar 1983, 26 Nov 1989, June 1992)

Schloß Homburg

Bur Hornberg (1 May 1982, 9 April 1990)

Schloß Hugenpoet

Schloß Iburg

Neues Schloß, Ingolstadt (1 Jan 1983)

Schloß Jever (13 June 1983)

Schloß Johannisburg, Aschaffenburg (3 Jan 1983)

Kaiserburg, Nürnberg (30 May 1979, Sep 1981, 18 Dec 1982, 29 Aug 1989, 31 Dec 1990, 23 Aug 1991)

Karlsruher Schloß (10 June 1961, 4 July 1981, 11 July 1981, 18 July 1982, 19 Oct 1982, 27 Nov 1982, 1997)

Residenz Kempten (30 Dec 1981, 26 Nov 1989)

Festung Königstein (16 June 1983, 16 June 1990, June 1992)

Jagdschloß Kranichstein

Schloß Kronberg (16 June 1990)

Burg Lahneck (19 May 1983, 21 July 1990, 17 Aug 1991)

Schloß Langenburg (23 Apr 1983)

Burg Lauenstein

Wasserschloß Lauf (Sep 1981)

Schloß Leitheim (1 Jan 1983)

Schloß Lembeck, Dorsten (28 July 1990)

Burg Lichtenberg, Oberstenfeld (31 Jan 1960, 17 March 1991)

Burg Lichtenstein (29 Aug 1982)

Schloß Linderhof (10 June 1962, 3 Jan 1982, 12 July 1983, Nov 1989, 20 Dec 1989, 21 Feb 1991, 

Schloß Ludwigsburg (1 May 1982, 19 Dec 1982)

Schloss Lutzelhardt (8 July 1981, 1 March 1992, May 2008)

Mannheimer Schloß (Nov 1981, 19 Feb 1983)

Schloß Malberg

Landgrafenschloß Marburg (20 Feb 1983)

Festung Marienberg, Würzburg (22 Aug 1981, 21 Feb 1983, 9 July 1983, 27 Dec 1990, May 2008)

Marksburg (13 June 1979, 9 Oct 1981, 4 July 1982, 20 Feb 1983, 4 July 1983, 21 July 1990)

Altes Schloß, Meersburg (30 Dec 1981, 8 Oct 1989)

Deutschordensschloss von Mergentheim (23 April 1983)

Wasserschloß Mespelbrunn (3 Jan 1983)

Burg Montfort

München Residenz (1 Jan 1982, 27 Aug 1982, 16 July 1983, 24 Feb 1991)

Burg Münzenberg (11 June 1983, 8 Sep 1989)

Burg Nannstein (26 Sep 1959, 17 March 1991)

Schloß Neuburg (1 Jan 1983)

Schloß Neuenstein (19 Dec 1982, 27 April 1990)

Burg Neulingingen (24 Feb 1990, 27 July 1991)

Schloß Neuschwanstein, Schwangau (10 June 1962, 2 Jan 1982, 12 July 1983, 20 Dec 1989)

Burg Nideggen (3 July 1983)

Schloß Nordkirchen (15 June 1983)

Schloß Nymphenburg, München (29 May 1979, 27 Aug 1982, 11 July 1983, 3 Dec 1989)

Schloß Oldenburg (13 June 1983)

Kirchenburg Ostheim/Rhön

Burg Pappenheim

Schloß Pfaueninsel

Burg Pfalzgrafenstein und Burg Gutenfels, Kaub (30 May 1979, 13 June 1979, 8 Oct 1981, 4 July 1982, 19 May 1983, 4 July 1983, 21 July 1990, 1 June 2008)

Plassenburg, Kulmbach (21 Feb 1983)

Plöner Schloß 

Lustschloß Poppelsdorf

Schloß Prunn, Riedenburg (24 Aug 1991)

Schloß Raesfeld (26 July 1990)

Burg Reichenstein (4 Oct 1959, 17 Aug 1991, May 2008)

Residenzschloß Rastatt ( 21 Feb 1982, 16 May 1982, 10 Oct 1982, 22 July 1989, 10 June 1990)

Burg Rheinfels (4 Oct 1959, 20 March 1960, 12 June 1960, 30 May 1979, 13 June 1979, 9 Oct 1981, 4 July 1982, 19 May 1983, 4 July 1983, 21 July 1990, 1 June 2008)

Burg Rheinstein (13 Feb 1983, 4 July 1983, 1 June 2008)

Schloß Rheydt, Mönchengladbach (18 May 1983)

Festung Rosenberg, Kronach (21 Feb1983, 28 Dec 1990)

Burg Rötteln (15 April 1960, 13 Feb 1982, 26 Sep 1982)

Burg Runkel (20 Feb 1983)

Schloß Saarbrücken


Wassershloß Schelenburg (13 June 1983)

Schloß Schillingsfürst

Schloß Schleißheim (1 Jan 1982, 26 Aug 1982)

Burg Schlitz


Schloß Schwetzingen (Oct 1981, 10 Oct 1982)

Lustschloß Seehof (21 Feb 1983, 31 Dec 1990)

Oberes un Unteres Schloß, Siegen

Hohenzollernschloß Sigmaringen (24 April 1982, 26 Nov 1989)

Schloß Solitude (18 Sep 1982, 3 Dec 1989)

Spandauer Zitadelle (26 Sep 1981, 28-30 Dec 1990)

Schloß Spangenberg (24 Feb 1990)

Schloß Stolzenfels, Koblenz (1959-1963, 31 May 1979, 17 July 1979, 9 Aug 1981, 9 July 1982, 20 Feb 1983, 19 May 1983, 3 July 1983, 21 July 1990)

Schloß Tauberbischofsheim (21 Feb 1983)

Burg Thurandt (7 Oct 1981, 9 Oct 1981, 4 July 1982, 21 July 1990, 31 May 2008)

Burg Trausnitz (6 Dec 1989)

Burg Trendelburg (12 June 1983)

Kurfürstlicher Palast, Trier (19 March 1960, 11 June 1979, 9 Oct 1981, 6 Aug 1982, 20 July 1990, 27 July 1991, May 2008)

Burg Trifels (27 June 1959, 15 Nov 1959, 11 June 1960, 19 May 1963, 12 June 1979, 18 Aug 1981, 27 March 1982, 5 March 1990, 30 May 1992, 10 Sep 1997, May 2008)

Schloß Türnich

Schloß Veitshöchheim (1959-1963, 9 July 1983, 27 March 1982, 24 Feb 1989, 5 March 1990)

Schloß Velberg

Burg Veldenstein, Neuhaus a.d. Pegnitz (Sep 1981)

Burg Vischering, Lüdinghausen (15 June 1983)

Schloß Waldburg (26 Nov 1989)

Schloß Waldeck

Schloß Weikersheim (23 April 1983, 28 May 2008)

Schloß Weilberg (20 Feb 1983, 24 Jul 1989) 

Schloß Weißenstein, Pommersfelden (21 Feb 1983, 27 Dec 1990)

Schloß Weitenburg

Berg Wertheim (3 Jan 1983)

Schloß Westerwinkel (28 July 1990)

Wewelsburg (14 July 1991)

Schloß Wilhelmshöhe (24 July 1982)

Schloß Wilhelmsthal, Kassel (12 June 1983)

Schloß Wolfegg (26 Nov 1989)

Schloß Wolfenbüttel (30 June 1991)

Schloß Wörth (23 Sep 1991)

Residenz Würzburg (22 Aug 1981, 21 Feb 1983, 9 July 1983, 28 May 2008)

Schloß Zwingenberg (1 May 1982, 23 April 1983, 7 April 1990)