Blutenburg Castle

Blutenburg Castle


Location: Munich, Bavaria Map

Constructed: 1438- 39 by Albert III, Duke of Bavaria


Description of Blutenburg Castle

Blutenburg Castle or Schloss Blutenburg is located in Western Munich on the banks of river Wurm in the Bavaria region of Germany. The fortress of Blutenberg was originally constructed in 1432- 39 by Albert III, Duke of Bavaria, who used it as his private hunting lodge. Albert III or Albrecht III was known as a lover of delicate women. His particular relationship with Agnes Bernauer seem to be an inspiration for construction of a private lodge. However after her assassination in 1435 the duke lived here with his second wife Anna von Braunschweig.
Strategic location of the private residence was protected by two arms of the river Wurm. Apparently there has been another castle on this site that dates back to the 13th century, but its was destroyed earlier and some of its material was quarried to erect new towers and walls to guard the duke along with his men. Original medieval tower was uncovered during archeological digs of 1981.
Duke's son Sigismund of Bavaria continues the expansion and construction of family residence until he died here in 1501. He also ordered the construction of a Gothic style Chapel of Saint Sigismund, patron saint of the monarch. He became famous for a scandal of 1476 when he renounced the Regency and moved here as a private citizen. He devoted himself to the construction of churches and castles. Blutenburg Castle saw particular expansion as his primary residence. The citadel of Blutenburg was surrounded by a ring of curtain wall protected by three towers and a gate tower that guarded the entrance to the fortress.
The main building of Blutenburg Castle was badly damaged during the Thirty Years War (1618- 48) and later rebuilt in 1680-81 under supervision of notary of Munich, Anton von Berchem. He baught the castle for a sale price given that no one wanted to invest into reconstruction of the old fort. He lowered the height of the towers and covered by roofs.
Blutenburg Castle saw many owners. In 1974 a society of Friends of the Castle Blutenburg (Schloss Blutenburg) orginized reconstruction of the citadel to its original historic appearance. After rebuilding of the main buildings on site it was reopened on 19 July 1980. Today Blutenburg Castle is open to the public. In addition to its historic significance it houses the International Youth Library with a collection of books in over 100 different languages.
Chapel of Saint Sigismund
Splendid Chapel of Saint Sigismund was constructed by the orders of king Sigismund of Bavaria who dedicated this late Gothic masterpiece. Its high arches and well preserved stained glass windows is a popular destination in the Blutenburg Castle. Paintings around the altar were painted in 1491 by Jan Polack. Statues of apostles on the side walls of the chapel were created in 1490- 95. Their author remained nameless and was referred only by a nickname as a "Master of the Blutenburg apostles".


The name of the castle does not necessarily have anything to do with blood, but the assumption that the name is derived from the Middle High German word for blossom castle is just as wrong. The meaning of the word remains unclear to this day, but the interpretation of the Bavarian Administration of State Palaces, Gardens and Lakes from 1985 is obvious: In old Bavarian, "bluet" may well have meant blood. J. Andreas Schmeller (Bavarian Dictionary) translates “bloom” in the sense of hurting oneself economically - and Duke Albrecht III. (Annex) and his son Sigismund (chapel) undoubtedly done financially when it was built. They hired the best master builders (Ganghofer) and painters (Polack) of the time.

The castle dates back to a 13th century moated castle. The core of this castle was a residential tower, the remains of which were partially exposed in 1981. The fortress was first mentioned in writing in 1432.

Between 1431 and 1440 the later Duke Albrecht III. turn the "Pluedenburg" into his country residence. This expansion was perhaps caused by the relationship between Albrecht (who was known as a “lover of tender women”) and the bather's daughter Agnes Bernauer. After the murder of the Bernauerin (1435), the duke lived in the Blutenburg with his second wife Anna von Braunschweig.

His son Duke Sigismund later renounced his reign (declaration of renunciation 1467), only kept Dachau as his domain and withdrew to the Blutenburg. He devoted himself to the construction of churches and castles and especially the expansion of the Blutenburg. Although there was already a chapel consecrated to Saints Andrew and George in Tower IV of the complex, in 1488 he had a much more representative, independent and now dedicated to the Holy Trinity and St. Sigismund, probably based on plans by Jörg von Halsbach, through the building works of the Munich Frauenkirche Erect the castle chapel, which still houses a mercy seat of the painter Jan Polack (workshop) from 1491. At about the same time, the Duke initiated the new construction of St. Wolfgang not far away in Pipping, which is also a late Gothic gem today.

The fresco by Hans Danube the Elder in the Antiquarium of the Munich Residence gives a good impression of the appearance of the palace complex around 1590. At that time the main and outer bailey were still separated by a moat, which was spanned by a "battlement" and a bridge. The Blutenburg served as the hunting lodge of the ducal Niederjagdreservates Menzing from 1508.

The destruction by the Swedes in the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), which is often mentioned in history books, did not take place according to current research. In the 16th and until the end of the 17th century there were no noteworthy events apart from a few reports of repairs due to aging. Only the surrounding villages were plundered by enemy troops in 1632 and 1648. When the Electress Henriette Adelaide finally became the owner of Hofmark Menzing through a donation in 1663, interest in this hunting area was extinguished and courtly activities shifted to Nymphenburg Palace.

The Munich notary Freiherr Anton von Berchem, executor of the elector's will, acquired the castle in 1676 far below its value, had the dilapidated complex renovated and many areas rebuilt. The towers were shortened by one storey and were given uniform tent roofs, and the defensive wall also lost height. The Gothic roof turret of the chapel gave way to a baroque onion dome. A tower-like chimney head towered over the main building. The condition at that time is well documented by an engraving by Michael Wening (around 1700). When Berchem died in 1702, his heirs had to return the Hofmark to the Elector Max Emanuel. The most glamorous days of the Blutenburg were over.

The castle was still assigned to a few wives and concubines of the dukes (1732–1751 owned by Maria Benonia von Haslang, later Countess von Hörwarth), but began to deteriorate more and more. From 1751, the court master, Count von Seinsheim, used the facility, and in 1801 the court marshal Freiherr von Gohr. In 1827 the state property was leased to private individuals, but the upper floors of the manor house were still used at times by the now royal family. During this time, the Blutenburg was used as an excursion restaurant and bar. Around 1848 it was even planned to convert it into a brandy distillery. This year u. a. Lola Montez the castle.


From 1866 to 1957 the complex was leased to the Institute of the English Misses, from 1957 to 1976 it served the Sisters of the Third Order as a retirement home. The facility was near decay at this point. However, the Blutenburg Madonna from the palace chapel was the focus of a sensational criminal case in 1971.

The "Verein der Freunde Schloss Blutenburg e.V." (Association of Friends of Blutenburg Castle) was founded in 1974 by committed citizens of Obermenzing, and just a few years later it had over 1000 members. It is thanks to the association and especially to the long-time chairman, the Munich city councilor Wolfgang Vogelsgesang (1932–2000), that the groundbreaking ceremony for extensive renovation work took place on July 19, 1980. The expansion and renovation work for the international youth library, which has since been located in the palace, lasted until 1983.

In 2013 the sculptor Joseph Michael Neustifter erected the memorial for the loving Bernauerin in the area in front of Blutenburg Castle on behalf of the couple Ursula and Fritz Heimbüchler and gave it the title “A memorial for love” as a reminiscence of the love between Duke Albrecht III. and the bather's daughter Agnes Bernauer.

Description of the plant
Overall system
In the past, the entire palace complex was not only recognized in the art-historical literature with detailed descriptions, but also an interpretive interpretation of the interior space was attempted in order to trace the deeper motivations of the builders of the palace chapel and area.

The castle is surrounded in the west by the Würm, which rises from the Starnberger See, formerly Würmsee. To the east there are ponds (oxbow lakes) upstream, so that an island situation results. The complex consists of the older main castle with the manor house and the spacious outer bailey from the 15th / 16th centuries. Century. The moat between the castle parts disappeared for a long time, and the northern defensive wall in front of the manor house was removed or reconstructed in a degraded manner during the general renovation. The upper castle courtyard (inner castle) is accessible from the outer castle via a flat ramp.

Outer lock
You enter the palace complex in the north through the "gate tower" from 1430, which was crowned with a pyramid roof around 1980. To the west are the "gate building" from 1431 and the "castle chapel". The "Old Hall" from 1529 was built to the west of the chapel as the "Prinzenstall" and faces south. The connection to the mansion's bering is made by the "battlement" which is supported by five arches. To the east, the “New Hall Building” is opposite the “Old Hall Building”. It was built as an economic building around 1456. The outer bailey is closed off by the single-storey castle tavern. The other buildings in the outer bailey are two-story. Below the courtyard area are the underground storage rooms of the youth library, which offer space for around 500,000 volumes.

Inner lock
The tower-like "mansion" was built from 1437 and was expanded around 1530 and a third floor was added. After 1676 it was expanded again to the north in the direction of the outer bailey and completed as a rectangular complex. It has a high hipped roof and is still surrounded on three sides by the former fortifications. Four towers with curly pointed helmets reinforce the corners of the inner castle. However, the defensive character has been significantly reduced since the renovation in the 17th century. Even then, the facility was no longer defensible.

Palace Chapel of the Holy Trinity
The Gothic castle chapel was built in 1488 in the area of ​​the outer bailey. Before that, the castle chapel was in the north-eastern fortified tower. The medieval structure has been preserved in a rare unity, even the roof structure is still the original. Only the baroque roof turret (1676) above the west gable dates from a later period.

The church is 19.6 m long and 9.3 m wide. The buttresses were reduced to flat wall templates. In between are pointed arched windows with simple tracery. The 15.8 m high wall surfaces are closed on the outside by a painted tracery frieze reminiscent of Landshut models. A sequence of coats of arms shows the shields of related high nobility families. The gable roof is covered with tiles, the choir has not been drawn in. The portal lies in a stepped wall template. In the niches there are more ancestral coats of arms and a representation of St. Trinity.

The murals under the windows were paneled to protect against environmental influences. The pictures show u. a. Adam and Eve, the Holy Tribe and St. Florian and St. Onuphrios, the first patron of the city of Munich


The interior is spanned by a deep mesh vault. The short presbytery is separated from the single nave nave by a choir arch. The late Gothic interior of the former court church is almost completely preserved. The slug panes of the glazing are also partly original. 16 medallions show the coat of arms of the nobility, underneath one recognizes the Passion of Christ and the Annunciation of Mary (one disc inscribed 1497).

The cycle of apostle figures on the side walls was created around 1490/95. The executing master is controversial, which is why the statues are assigned the emergency name Master of the Blutenburg Apostles. The portrayed cannot always be clearly identified because the attributes have been partially exchanged or lost.

Corresponding in the choir are the figures of the Man of Sorrows and the Mother of God (Blutenburg Madonna) on heraldic consoles that correspond to those of the apostles.

The three altars are probably based on designs by Jan Polack. However, the paintings on a gold background are likely to have been made by four different painters. The south side altar is dated 1491.

The main picture of the high altar shows the mercy seat with the Corpus Christi Christ. The wings of the simple convertible altar bear depictions of the baptism of Jesus and the coronation of Mary by the Holy Trinity. On the outside you can see Duke Sigismund in front of his namesake. The judging Christ stands in the midst of Mary and John as well as Adam and Eve. The painting of the predella shows the four evangelists.

The two side altars have no outer wings. The Annunciation of Mary (south altar) and Christ as the helper of the world can be seen on the altar leaves. The predelle pictures have the Holy Kinship or the Fourteen Holy Helpers as their theme.

The late Gothic ensemble is complemented by the magnificent sacrament house (sandstone) from 1489. In the canopy there are again statuettes of Our Lady and the Man of Sorrows.

Wine festival
Since 1984 the "Wine Festival of the Southern Wine Route" has been held in the courtyard of the castle every year in May.