Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle


Location: 50 km (30 mi) South of Stuttgart Map

Open: Nov- 15 March 10am- 4:30pm

16 March- Oct 10am- 5:30pm

Entrance Fee: 5 Euro, children 4 Euro

Tel. +49 (0) 7471 2428

Official site


History of Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle is located 50 km (30 mi) South of Stuttgart in Germany. The original medieval Hohenzollern Castle stood here since the first half of the 11th century. The last version of the citadel that stands here today was constructed in 1846- 67 on the orders of Frederick William IV, King of Prussia. Several royals are also buried on the ground of the stronghold. Hohenzollern Castle on this strategic hill was originally constructed in the early 11th century by the Hohenzollern family. Its defenses were formidable and quiet impressive. Hohenzollern Castle got a nick name of "Crown of all Castles in Swabia", however in 1423 it was captured and completely destroyed. Just two decades later in 1454 the castle was reconstructed. The last time it was actively used as a military fortification was during Thirty Years War in 1618- 48. Changing military technologies made the stronghold obsolete and it fell in disrepair. In 1819 the reconstruction of a former citadel was undertaken by king Frederick William IV. He erected a neo- Gothic Hohenzollern Castle that is probably one of the most picturesque castles in Germany.



The first castle
The first medieval castle in the County of Zollern, first mentioned in 1267, probably dates back to the 11th century. It was conquered and completely destroyed on May 15, 1423 after almost a year of siege by the Federation of Swabian Imperial Cities.

The second castle
After a new building from 1454, the castle was captured and temporarily occupied by the Württemberg people during the Thirty Years' War, although it was expanded into a strong fortress:

After the balance of power shifted due to the advance of the Swedes as far as Bavaria in favor of the Protestants, and King Gustav Adolf promised Duke Julius Friedrich von Württemberg the territories that had been conquered and still to be conquered in Swabia, the latter prepared for war against his neighbors in early 1632. Under the pretext of "protecting the abandoned [Catholic] rulers", the duke initially let his troops march into the County of Hohenberg. Important cities (e.g. Rottweil on October 2, 1632) were quickly conquered, the siege of Villingen (surrender request on October 4, 1632) and the blockade of Hohenzollern (July 1633) began. While the Württemberger in the Black Forest initially wanted to evacuate the Landwehr from the nearby offices, the Hohenzollern Lieutenant Colonel Jost Faber was supposed to deal with 500 "armored Württemberg farmers" and 100 horsemen - but without success. The Württemberg wagons lay in front of the fortress for eight months, their soldiers plundered the supplies without being able to record a military success. Due to the offensive action of the Duke of Württemberg, the imperial now threatened retaliation for their part. Some of their officers sounded that they were "setting up such a fire in Württemberg that the angels in heaven draw their feet to themselves". In the spring of 1634, the young and committed Duke Eberhard von Württemberg began the actual siege of the castle. He deposed the unsuccessful commander Jost Faber and instead appointed Lieutenant Colonel Helmstädt. This officer and commander of the Land Regiments III + IV, who operated with the Swedes, was finally able to take the town of Hechingen on March 25, 1634, whereupon the castle surrendered on April 3 due to the persistently poor supply situation by Captain Weinmann. The Zoller crew received free retreat. Despite the protest of Philipp Christoph von Hohenzollern, the Principality of Hohenzollern-Hechingen had to pay homage to Eberhard von Württemberg and all his officials were dismissed. It was not until November 1, 1635 that the fortress was recaptured. The battle of Nördlingen had turned the balance of power in favor of the emperor. But a ruse was required for the conquest: The Württemberg captain Albert Schmidlapp was handed a forged letter that contained the alleged order of his duke, who asked that the castle be handed over to the imperial lieutenant colonel Karthausen. After the Wuerttemberg people left, the castle was initially occupied by 50 rural people (local farmers).

After the end of the war, the castle was mainly owned by the Habsburgs before it was occupied by French troops during the War of the Austrian Succession in the winter of 1744/45. After the last Austrian occupation left in 1798, the castle fell into disrepair and was in ruins at the beginning of the 19th century. The only noteworthy part was the St. Michael's Chapel.

The third castle
The idea of ​​rebuilding the castle came to the then Crown Prince and later King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, possibly in 1819, when he wanted to get to know the roots of his origins on a trip to Italy and climbed the mountain. In 1844, already as king, he wrote:

“The memory of the year 19 is extremely lovely to me and like a beautiful dream, especially the sunset that we saw from one of the castle bastions. ... Now it is a childhood dream to see the Hohenzollern made habitable again. "
- Friedrich Wilhelm IV.

The castle in its current form is a building by the renowned Berlin architect Friedrich August Stüler, who was appointed architect of the king in 1842 as a student and successor to Karl Friedrich Schinkel. It is considered a typical example of neo-Gothic in the German-speaking area. The impressive driveway systems were designed by the engineer officer Moritz von Prittwitz, who was then considered the leading Prussian fortress builder. The sculptural work comes from Gustav Willgohs.


On the one hand, Hohenzollern Castle is the result of the political will to represent the rulers of Prussia, who wanted to see the ancestral castle of their ancestors rebuilt in a splendid form. On the other hand, the castle is an expression of the romantic spirit of that time and embodies the ideal of a medieval knight's castle. In this respect, the historicist building concept is comparable to that of Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, but without its fantastic and theatrical exaggeration. The foundation stone was laid in 1850. The construction was financed jointly by the Brandenburg-Prussian and the princely-Swabian lines of the Hohenzollern. In the dispute over the financing it came after a violent verbal argument on March 22, 1852 between Otto von Bismarck and Georg von Vincke in the second Prussian chamber on March 25, 1852 to the duel Vincke-Bismarck. On October 3, 1867, the building was completed and inaugurated under King Wilhelm I of Prussia.

The new building did not always remain undisputed. Only a few decades after the inauguration, Kaiser Wilhelm II commissioned the architect Gabriel von Seidl to deal with a possible conversion of the castle in the purist style of historicism. During his visit to the castle in 1894, however, Seidl stated: "This castle is so botched that I can't do anything but build it from scratch - and then it's just no longer an old castle ... I can't do that!" During his visit he is said to have asked his companions on the basis of the impression he had gained: “For God's sake, help me out.” Thereupon Kaiser Wilhelm II refrained from this renovation project and instead had the Hohkönigsburg rebuilt, the Posen residential palace Renovate Ordensburg Marienburg and build the Naval School Mürwik for the Navy based on their model and finally build the Cecilienhof in Potsdam in the style of a hunting lodge.

Hohenzollern Castle was badly damaged in an earthquake on September 3, 1978. Some turrets collapsed and knight figures fell over. The restoration work dragged on until the 1990s.

The structure, which covers almost the entire hilltop, consists mainly of four elements: the fortifications, the castle building, the chapels and the castle garden.

The Adlertor with its drawbridge forms the entrance. The courtyard is reached through four turns. The first turn revolves around the Wilhelmsturm. You reach the second turn, the lower Vorwerk, via the Zwinger. From here, the third turn leads into the vault of the spiral ramp tower and the fourth turn directly above it with an uncovered driveway. Then you reach the southeastern Schnarrwachtbastei with a view of Boll and the Dreifürstenstein. From there you can reach the castle courtyard via the square upper gate tower via a straight climb or walk around the castle building from the outside via the bastions. Counterclockwise, the Schnarrwachtbastei is followed by the Neue Bastei (north-east), the Fuchslochbastei (north), the Spitz (north-west), the Scharfeckbastei (west), the garden bastion (south-west) and the St. Michaelsbastei (south ). The statues of the Prussian kings can be found between the bastions.

Castle building
The palace building forms a U that opens to the south-east, the ends of which form the Protestant and Catholic chapels. The outer outline uses the old foundation walls of the second castle complex. The three-story buildings, which are decorated with many turrets and pinnacles, rise above the old casemates. The four main towers are, in counter-clockwise order, the Kaiserturm facing the Fuchslochbastei, the Bischofsturm towards the Spitz, the Markgrafenturm towards the Scharfeckbastei and the Michaelsturm before the Gartenbastei. In the castle courtyard is the waiting tower, which nestles as a stair tower on the prince's building with the count's hall and library and on which the flag is hoisted when the lord of the castle is present.

Inside rooms
A flight of stairs leads to the family tree hall. The family tree of the Hohenzollern family is painted on the walls. From here you get to the Count's Hall, which takes up the entire width of the south wing. Its ogival rib vault is supported by eight reddish, free-standing marble columns. The pointed arched windows also have grisaille and colored paintings by Stüler. The former castle kitchen, now the treasury, is located under the Count's Hall. The Kaiserturm and the bishop's niche border the Grafensaal, followed by the library, which is decorated with murals by Wilhelm Peters on the Hohenzollern history. The King's Salon is located in the Margrave Tower, which today is also called the Margrave's Room, in a departure from Stüler's terminology.


Finally, through various private rooms, one comes to the Queen's drawing room. Because of the upholstered furniture covered in blue velvet, it is also known as the Blue Salon. The parquet consists of five different woods. From a viewing bay you can see the Alb eaves, on the walls hang family paintings: Queen Luise, Empress Augusta, Empress Viktoria and Prince Waldemar of Prussia, the latter painted by Viktoria herself. The queen's secretary was created according to Stüler's designs. The Sèvres service comes from Napoléon's possession and was captured by Prussian troops at the Battle of Waterloo. In the servants' hall there is a painting by Franz von Lenbach that shows Wilhelm I shortly before his death. The massive Wilhelm II desk dominates the otherwise intimate character of the room due to the use of different woods for the parquet and paneling.

Armory and treasury
One floor below you get to the treasury via the armory. It contains, among other things, Queen Luise's train made of silk damask, Frederick the Great's tunic from the battle of Kunersdorf, the snuff box that saved his life, his canes, two of his transverse flutes and tobacconists set with precious stones. The highlight is the Wilhelm II crown adorned with 18 brilliant-cut diamonds and 142 rose-cut diamonds.

There are chapels of three Christian denominations at Hohenzollern Castle:

The Catholic St. Michael's Chapel was expanded in 1853, its medieval part dates from the years 1454 to 1461 and is thus the only remaining structure of the second castle. The nave and choir are covered with ribbed vaults. Numerous windows come from the church of the former Stetten Monastery, which was temporarily the Zollerian hereditary burial place; they were created between 1280 and 1290.

The Protestant Christ Chapel is a work by Stülers based on the west choir of Naumburg Cathedral. The Aposteltor comes from the destroyed Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.

Under the Christ Chapel is the Russian Orthodox Resurrection Chapel, which was set up in the second half of the 20th century by Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia for his wife Kira of Russia.

The original planting plan was a late work by Peter Joseph Lenné. Its arrangement is no longer preserved today.

After the reconstruction, the castle was never inhabited for a long time, it only had a representative function. Only the last Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm lived at the castle for a few months after his flight from Potsdam at the end of 1945. Wilhelm, his wife, Crown Princess Cecilie, and several of their children are buried in the small family cemetery in the officers' garden of the St. Michael's bastion in the castle.

The urns of Prince Louis Ferdinand, his wife Kira and some of their children are buried in the Russian Orthodox Resurrection Chapel. From 1952 the coffins of kings Friedrich Wilhelm I and Frederick the Great were in the castle. After reunification, they were returned to Potsdam in 1991.

Hohenzollern Castle is still private property. It belongs to two thirds of the Brandenburg-Prussian line of the House of Hohenzollern, and one third of the Swabian line. Since 1994, the host has been the incumbent boss of the Hohenzollern house, Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia.

Since 1952 the castle has also been furnished with art objects and memorabilia from the family's property and the former Hohenzollern Museum in Monbijou Castle. Hohenzollern Castle offers guided tours through the showrooms and state rooms of the castle and is now a tourist attraction with over 300,000 visitors per year. The highlight is the treasure chamber, in which valuable art-historical objects can be discovered, including the precious table silver and porcelain, the tobacco boxes of Frederick the Great, his uniform skirt with the legendary bullet hole, the magnificent court dress of Queen Luise of Prussia and the Prussian royal crown. The numerous marketing campaigns include exhibitions, concerts, theater and cinema events as well as a Christmas market.

There is a café-restaurant and, in summer, outdoor catering with 150 seats in the shade of the Königslinden in the castle garden.


In 1953, when the castle was broken into, several items were stolen from the treasury. The perpetrator was later caught and sentenced to six years in prison. He had already melted down some of the looted items or threw them into the Main while fleeing. The act was described in a separate room of the crime museum of the Baden-Württemberg Police Academy in Freiburg im Breisgau.

Since 1954, the castle has also been used by the Princess Kira von Prussia Foundation, founded in 1952. The foundation enables children in need from West Berlin to go on holiday in their early years.

In 1997 the "Friends of Hohenzollern Castle" was founded, which has been committed to supporting measures to preserve the castle and which now has around 300 members.

In 2015, the castle was the setting for the shooting of the psychological thriller A Cure for Wellness, which was supervised by Studio Babelsberg. The film moves the setting of the story to a fictional location in Switzerland. Director Gore Verbinski and studio boss Henning Molfenter signed the castle's guest book in the presence of host Georg Friedrich Prince of Prussia during the filming. A Cure For Wellness was released in theaters on February 23, 2017.

In 2016, the outdoor shots of the children's series A Lousy Witch took place at the castle. The castle embodies the Graustein Academy for witches in the series.

Hohenzollern song
The Hohenzollern song from 1849 sings about the castle and the rock and is considered the Hohenzollern hymn.