Giebichenstein Castle (Burg Giebichenstein)

Giebichenstein Castle


Location: Halle, Saxony-Anhalt Map

Constructed: 10th century

Tel. +49 345 5233857


Description of Giebichenstein Castle

Giebichenstein Castle is a medieval castle in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt region of Germany. Giebichenstein Castle was constructed in the 10th century and served as a residence for the archbishops of Magdeburg. It was badly damaged at the end of the Thirty Years' War, when besieging forces demolished most of military fortifications in 1636. The gate tower that was originally erected in the 12th century is one of the original features of the castle that were well preserved despite centuries of neglect. It offers a great view of the Saale Valley below. Parts of the original citadel have been uncovered by the archaeologists since 1960's. Abandoned stronghold was largely reconstructed in the early 20th century.


Old castle
The area around the Giebichenstein was king country. In 961, King Otto I gave the Gau Neletici and its main town to the Moritz Monastery in Magdeburg, with Giebichenstein being mentioned for the first time: Netelici in qua est civitas quae Givicansten nuncupatur ("Netelici, in which the Givicansten called Burgward is"). Another copy of the document calls urbem Giviconsten cum salsugine ("the city of Giviconsten with a saltworks"), whereby the city only meant a larger settlement or the main town of Burgward. In addition, the salty and sweet waters as well as German and Slavic residents were transferred to the monastery, from which the Archdiocese of Magdeburg was to emerge in 968. This document speaks of two different Gauen Netelici, one with the Giebichenstein stretches east of the Saale to Radewell on the Elster, the other consists only of the area around Wurzen. Both were the settlement area of ​​the Sorbian tribe of the Neletici. As the deed of donation says, there were not only Slavic but also German residents in Burgward Giebichenstein. The importance of the settlement near salt springs and a trade route shows the fact that Otto I issued documents in Giebichenstein.

The first castle in Giebichenstein existed in the 10th century at another location nearby. It can only be assumed that it had the shape of a wall-moat system reinforced with palisades, similar to the Suuemeburg near Wengelsdorf (10th century). The exact location of the previous castle has not been clarified with certainty. However, it is considered likely that it was located on the hilltop east of today's fortification on the area known as the Old Castle or the Official Garden. A mention of castrum Givekenstein and the mention of a castle chapel in 1116 probably still refer to this predecessor complex. The pre-settlement assumed since Schultze-Galléra for the old castle (Germanic people's castle and Franconian fort) could be refuted on the basis of new findings. Archaeological investigations in 1999, during which the site was excavated down to the oldest layers of settlement, revealed only intensive traces of settlement from the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, whereas there was no evidence of a settlement or inspection of the Giebichenstein during the Roman Empire or the Migration Period. The use of the gable stone as a Germanic or Slavic place of worship, which is mostly only postulated due to the exposed location or based on place-name studies, could not be proven by this study. Today's Upper Giebichenstein Castle was only built in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The castle had a special meaning for the young Archdiocese of Magdeburg, which today can no longer be clearly identified. It was the place of death or burial of three bishops, Bishop Adalbert in 981, Bishop Taginos in 1012 and in the same year Bishop Walthards. In addition, the Giebichenstein served the king and later Emperor Heinrich II as a state prison for members of the high nobility. Among the imprisoned were such important people as Heinrich von Schweinfurt 1004, Ezelin von Este 1014-1018, Ernst von Schwaben 1027-1029 and Gottfried von Lothringen. According to legend, the Thuringian Landgrave Ludwig der Springer, the progenitor of the Ludowingers, was also imprisoned on the Giebichenstein, but there is no historical evidence of this.

The importance of the castle is also underlined by the presence of Henry IV in 1064 at the castle. In 1157 Friedrich I. Barbarossa called the meeting of princes at the castle.

The decisive transformation of the rule Giebichenstein from Burgward to the sovereign territory of the Archdiocese of Magdeburg took place under Archbishop Wichmann (1152–1192). Wichmann has documented Giebichenstein several times since 1154. The oldest excavated wall remains on the upper castle date from this time. A gate tower, circular wall and south tower were built on the previously undeveloped castle rock. In addition to the narrow entrance through the massive Romanesque gate tower, there was apparently a second entrance on the east side. There was another tower on the south side. A height of at least 4.50 meters was determined for the circular wall. Views from the 16./17. Century show two battlements on top of each other, but these should be later additions. Also in the second half of the 12th century, a residential tower and the palace were built against the curtain wall on the north side.


The late Romanesque residential tower, possibly called the Kemenate, had an area of ​​approximately eleven meters square. It was furnished with a high level of comfort and had a staircase and chimneys built into the masonry. During the excavation, a hollow pillar with quatrefoil openings was found, the function of which is unclear. In addition to other architectural decorations, it testifies to the representative appearance of the building. The entrance to the residential tower was exactly opposite the entrance to the castle chapel.

A free-standing church was also built in the courtyard, which was certainly also representative, as is usual in the residence of a church prince. The monastery church in Wimmelburg and the church of the collegiate monastery at Seeburg Castle are cited as comparative structures.

The most magnificent building of the upper castle was the Palas on the north side with a size of 36 × 11 meters. An unusual abundance of architectural jewelry was also found there. The walls of five rooms were excavated, all of which were accessible from the courtyard. In front of the palas was an arcade, which will also have provided access to the rooms on the upper floors. The appearance of this building can be imagined like the palace buildings of the Runneburg and the Wartburg.

To the west of the chapel and residential tower was a building complex consisting of several buildings, about which there are no further records. The foundation walls and two basement rooms of these buildings have been preserved.

Giebichenstein Castle is said to have been besieged by Emperor Friedrich II in 1215. The background was probably the Staufer-Welf throne dispute between Emperor Friedrich II and Otto IV. The then Archbishop Albrecht II had sided with the Guelphs. Nothing is known about the outcome of the fighting, but Otto IV lost his last allies at the time and had to give up his claims to the throne.

Repair work under Archbishop Ruprecht is recorded for the period around 1260/1266. A comprehensive expansion of the castle took place between 1361 and 1368 under Archbishop Dietrich. A representative building was built to the east of the Palas, which was later extended to the south. Various conversions in the Gothic architectural style, such as today's Gothic gate tower built on the foundation of the Romanesque predecessor, refer to this time. In the late phase of use of the upper castle, further renovation work probably took place, which led to the dense building situation known from contemporary depictions.

From 1382 on, Giebichenstein Castle was the main residence of the Archbishops of Magdeburg. From there they led the dispute with the city of Halle for its independence. Since 1369, the archbishops issued almost all documents there and since 1402 all archbishops died at the castle. Just a few years after the completion of the lower castle, the fate of the castle turned. Archbishop Ernst of Saxony, brother of Frederick the Wise, who was known through the Reformation, had a new residence built in Halle, the fortified Moritzburg Castle. After its completion in 1503, Giebichenstein Castle lost its function as a residence and served as the administrative seat of the great Giebichenstein Office until the 19th century.

In 1514 the archbishops finally moved to Moritzburg. In the 16th century the upper castle deteriorated more and more. Repairs were sometimes only carried out with wood. A Merian engraving from before 1636 shows the palace as a ruin. The Swedes occupied the castle during the Thirty Years War. During the occupation, the upper castle and parts of the lower castle fell victim to a devastating fire in 1637. Since then, the upper castle has not been used any more.

Lower castle
Under the archbishops Günther II. And Friedrich III. the lower castle was built between 1445 and 1464. Günther II had previously sold the Lauchstädt, Liebenau and Schkopau castles to finance the construction. A previous building of the lower castle has not been archaeologically proven. However, it can be assumed that a bailey or a farm yard existed for such an important castle. The circular wall with the flanking towers, the moat and the inner peripheral house development were created in a uniform construction process. Only the eastern curtain wall, apart from the gatehouse, remained free of buildings. During the reign of Archbishop Johannes, the granary that stood free in the courtyard was built. As early as 1500, the residential buildings were given a functional rededication for commercial purposes. The brewery was added to the west of the lower castle to the south, and the mushaus at the northern end was converted into a distillery. In 1706 the baroque mansion was built on the east side of the lower castle. The clerk Ochs had the stone bridge built and redesigned the moat and old castle into a park.


Restorations, current use
Since the 19th century, various repairs, demolition work in terms of monument preservation and maintenance work have been carried out. The city of Halle has owned the castle since 1921. She set up an arts and crafts school in the lower castle. This saw itself as an alternative to the Bauhaus, was in part more focused on handicrafts, but also cooperated, for example, with the Staatliche Prozellanmanufaktur Berlin (before 1918 and later KPM), which set up an experimental studio in Halle. From 1915, director Paul Thiersch converted the castle into a modern state-municipal arts and crafts school in line with the ideas of the Deutscher Werkbund and stood with teachers such as Charles Crodel, Hans Finsler, Gerhard Marcks, Johannes Niemeyer, Gustav Weidanz and Hans Wittwer with the nearby Bauhaus Dessau Competition. In 1933 13 teachers and workshop masters from Burg Giebichenstein - workshops of the city of Halle were dismissed and the artistic areas were closed. The craft training center was continued and reorganized after 1945. In 1951 it was affected by the so-called formalism dispute. Until 1964 the school was headed by the former Bauhaus member Walter Funkat. In 1958 it was recognized as a college for industrial design in Halle. From 1990 it was called Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design Halle, since 2010 Burg Giebichenstein Art University Halle. In 2015 the school celebrated its 100th anniversary.

On the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of the city of Halle in 1961, Hans-Joachim Mrusek carried out extensive excavations on the upper castle. They led to the complete exposure of the foundation walls of the facility. After the excavations were completed, an open-air museum and a popular viewpoint over the Saale valley were created on the site.

Ludwig the Springer
A legend is associated with Giebichenstein Castle. The Landgrave of Thuringia, Ludwig the Springer, fell in love with Adelheid, the wife of Count Palatine Friedrich von Sachsen. Ludwig killed the Count Palatine in a hunt and married Adelheid. The relatives of the Count Palatinate demanded satisfaction. Emperor Heinrich IV. Imprisoned Ludwig on the Giebichenstein.

According to legend, Ludwig freed himself from his captivity by jumping into the hall. He was later recaptured, but was ultimately released. He atoned for his deed through pious foundations. For example, he founded the Reinhardsbrunn monastery in Thuringia.

The legend of the jump into the Saale was associated with the nickname of the jumpers, which originated in the 15th century. In fact, the legend about the origin of the name "Springer" is a misinterpretation of the Latin name Salicus, which means that Ludwig was a Salier; in earlier times it was wrongly read “saliens” and translated as Springer. Ludwig may never have been stuck on the Giebichenstein.