Hohenneuffen Castle

Hohenneuffen Castle


Location: Neuffen, Baden- Württemberg  Map

Constructed: 1100- 1120 by Mangold von Sulmetingen


History of Hohenneuffen Castle

Hohenneuffen Castle stands in the Swabian Alps on a mountain above a town of Neuffen in the Baden- Württemberg region of Germany. Hohenneuffen Castle was constructed in 1100- 1120 by Mangold von Sulmetingen on a site of a former Celtic religious site on a hill that measures 743 m (2437 feet) in height above a town of Neuffen. Hohenneuffen Castle survived several unsuccessful sieges, however during Thirty Years War in 1635 it was captured by the Imperial troops. The commanding officer of the garrison stationed here Johan Philipp Schnurm was promised advantageous terms of surrender, but after he gave his fortress all these promises were broken. His troops were drafted into Imperial Army and all possession of the former commandant were taken away. Military fortifications of the stronghold were badly damaged and abandoned. King Frederick William I of Prussia attempted to reconstruct dilapidated building in the 18th century. However he didn't complete it. In 1801 the castle officially became a quarry for local peasants. Much of the towers and walls of Hohenneuffen Castle were demolished at the time. Only in the 19th century reconstruction and preservation of the castle has began.



The Hohenneuffen was already settled in ancient times. In the late Celtic La Tène period (450 to 1 BC) it formed an outpost of the well-known Heidengraben oppidum, 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 from Germanic * hnîpa with the meaning "steep slope, mountain slope".

The castle was built between 1100 and 1120 by Mangold von Sulmetingen, who later called himself von Neuffen. It was first mentioned in a document in 1198, at that time owned by the Noble Free von Neuffen, 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. The castle proved its ability to defend itself in the internal conflicts of the Holy Roman Empire (the Imperial War), in which it could not be taken in 1312.

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 armory and two cisterns were built. The fortification thus created existed for two centuries without any major changes. In 1519, however, she had to surrender to the Swabian Federation. In the German Peasant Wars from 1524 it could not be taken again.

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 November 22, 1635, Schnurm handed the fortress over to the imperial troops after a 15-month siege. Contrary to the promises, the team was forced to serve in the imperial army, and Schnurm lost his property.

A legend that does not correspond to 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 wanted 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 soon abandoned the plan in view of the high costs and dubious military benefits. In 1793 it was decided to demolish the fortress and sell the building materials. From 1795 it was no longer used and finally released for demolition in 1801. This started two years later. The residents of the area were happy about the cheap building material. It was not until 1830 that they began to secure the remains, and in the 1860s the ruins were made accessible. In 1862 a restaurant was set up in the building in the upper courtyard.

Like other fortresses, the Hohenneuffen always served 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 Zwiefalten Monastery, Georg Fischer, detained here. The very old Tübingen Vogt Konrad Breuning was also exposed to the prince's arbitrariness in 1517 and was beheaded after imprisonment and torture in Stuttgart. In the 17th century, Matthäus Enzlin, Duke Friedrich's Chancellor, suffered a similar fate. In 1737 Joseph Suss Oppenheimer, the Jewish court factor and personal financial advisor to Duke Karl Alexander, was imprisoned for a few weeks on the Hohenneuffen before he was transferred to the Hohenasperg fortress and executed in 1738 as a victim of a judicial murder at the gates of Stuttgart.

During the Second World War, the Hohenneuffen was an air station.

The three-country conference


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, should impress. 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 on the Hohenneuffen thus marks the beginning of the long-term dispute about the formation of the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg, which was launched in 1952.

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of this conference, the district administrator of the Esslingen district, Heinz Eininger, handed over an information board for the three-country conference in 1948 on October 6, 2008, which was installed in the historic conference room.

Todays use
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.

Every year in June the Hohenneuffen mountain run takes place, in which the runners cover a distance of 9.3 km and 438 meters of altitude from the start in Linsenhofen. The organizers of the mountain run are TSV Beuren and TSV Frickenhausen. Many other events take place at the castle, such as a medieval market or concerts in the castle courtyard. In the summer season, a “falconry spectacle” takes place here on Sundays and public holidays, where many birds of prey are shown in free flight. From April to October, on the 2nd Sunday of the month, the Church in the Green takes place.

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 e.V. and is also maintained by them.

On May 3, 2014, a Staufer stele was inaugurated at the entrance to the castle in front of the Friedrichsbastion, commemorating the collaboration between the Lords of Neuffen and the Hohenstaufen.