Schloss Reinhardsbrunn

Schloss Reinhardsbrunn


Location: Friedrichroda, Thuringia Map

Constructed: 1827 by Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha


Description of Schloss Reinhardsbrunn or Castle Reinhardsbrunn

Schloss Reinhardsbrunn is a residence situated in Friedrichroda, Thuringia. Despite its medieval look Schloss Reinhardsbrunn was actually constructed in 1827 by Ernest I, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. This former royal country house is build on a site of the medieval monastery of the Benedictine Order that stood here since 1085 after order of Count Ludwig the Jumper of Thyringia. Since 1093 the abbey came under personal Papal protection. This Benedictine monastery was captured in 1525 during German Peasants' War. The site was abandoned and fell in disrepair until 19th century when current royal residence was constructed here. After the World War II the chateau was transformed into Soviet Military hospital for the Russian soldiers who were wounded in the last weeks of the war. Eventually it was nationalized by the DDR and used by the government.


The Benedictine monastery was founded in 1085 by the Thuringian Count Ludwig der Springer near his family castle, the Schauenburg near Friedrichroda. Reinhardsbrunn moved into a convent from Hirsau, which was fraternized with Hirsau and Cluny and had been under papal protection since 1092.

The monastery gained importance as the center of the Hirsau reforms within Thuringia, but also as a house monastery and burial place for the Ludowingers who had risen to become Landgraves of Thuringia. Between 1156 and 1168, the Reinhardsbrunn Benedictine monk, abbot of the monastery and librarian Sindold put together a collection of 100 texts (Reinhardsbrunn collection of letters). This includes letters from the 12th century from the monastery business and from correspondence with the landgrave family, but also samples, style exercises and theoretical material on the art of writing letters. The Reinhardsbrunner Chronik, which was compiled around 1340 to 1349, provides news from the 6th century to 1338. It contains the history of the monastery itself, from its foundation, the Ludowinger family, the Landgraviate of Thuringia and their transition to the Wettiner, but also the German Empire. Sources that are now considered lost were also used as models.

In the early 13th century the decline of the Reinhardsbrunn monastery gradually set in, reinforced by the extinction of the Ludowingians in 1247 and a fire in the monastery in 1292. But even among the Wettins, who followed the Ludowingians as landgraves, Reinhardsbrunn served as a burial place several times.

In 1525, during the Peasants' War, the monastery was looted and destroyed. The monks fled to Gotha, the monastery property was sold to the Elector of Saxony. The Reinhardsbrunn Office was formed from the monastery property. Zella St. Blasii, which previously belonged to the monastery, came to the Black Forest office. Five years later, in January 1530, nine Anabaptists were arrested at Reinhardsbrunn and interrogated by the Gotha superintendent Friedrich Myconius. Six of them were unwilling to revoke their Reformation-Anabaptist position and were subsequently executed. They were the first Anabaptists to be killed under a Lutheran government for their faith alone. Philipp Melanchthon later defended these executions in a letter to Myconius.

The monastery buildings fell into disrepair over the following decades. In 1952 the gravestones of the landgraves, which had meanwhile been set up elsewhere, were moved to the Georgenkirche in Eisenach.

After the monastery fell into disrepair, Duke Friedrich Wilhelm I of Weimar built an office building for the Reinhardsbrunn office in 1601. His brother Johann III. planned the reconstruction of Reinhardsbrunn; by the time construction was carried out, he had already died. Under his widow Dorothea Maria, the ground plan with the main buildings was created between 1607 and 1616. In the years that followed, connecting structures were built, in which remains of the monastery buildings were probably integrated. Parts of the buildings were built under Duke Friedrich II of Gotha-Altenburg around 1706.

The western building was the main building, called "the high house" or "castle", on whose foundation walls, using the corner towers, under Duke Ernst I of Coburg and Gotha in 1826/1827 a pleasure palace in the neo-Gothic style was built. Building adviser Gustav Eberhard (1805–1880) from Gotha and Carl Alexander Heideloff from Nuremberg were responsible for the construction. To the northeast, the hall building adjoins the main building as a short wing; to the south, and thus almost parallel to the main building, runs the “deer gallery”. This emerged from the former official building. From here runs east to “the new building”, also known as the “long building”, which contains components from the 15th century and later served as a church gallery.

The church closes the octagon on three sides to the east and replaces the church that was demolished in 1855. It is located a little south of the former monastery church and within the area of ​​the former cloister wing. This former church was a large, very elaborately designed building, the size of which showed an altar painting, which, representing Jacob's dream, was executed as a family memorial plaque. In 1850, the picture painted by Christian Richter, the father of court painter Christian Friedrich Richter (1587–1667), was taken to the Augustinian Church in Gotha.


The grave tablets were taken over in the new church building in 1874 after they had already been moved several times. The tombstones of Friedrich the bitten and his wife Elisabeth were removed from the burial site in Catherine's Monastery in Eisenach in 1552 and moved to the castle chapel of the newly built Grimmenstein Castle, as were the tombstones from the Reinhardsbrunn Monastery, which had already been closed. When the castle was destroyed in 1567, the stones ended up in the former foundry in front of the Grimmenstein. In 1613 Dorothea Maria had it repaired and the following year it was installed on the southern outer front under a protective roof. In 1874 they were installed inside the porch of the church or in the connecting room of the church gallery, but some of them were given incorrect data. Today the plates are in the Georgenkirche in Eisenach.

A landscape park was created around the castle around 1850. The British Queen Victoria and Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha met here several times.

In 1891 the complex was added to the inventory of art monuments of the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 1945 the house of Saxony-Coburg and Gotha was expropriated without compensation by the Soviet occupying power. The ducal house lost Reinhardsbrunn Palace, including its furnishings and park. Then the state of Thuringia took over the property and used it temporarily for training the fire brigade and police. In 1953 the castle became a hotel of the "VEB travel agency" of the GDR, primarily as a source of foreign currency for guests from West Germany and the West. An Intershop was therefore also located on the castle grounds until 1990. The castle developed into a cultural and educational center, where concerts and congresses took place. From 1980 it was listed as a “monument of national importance” in the GDR list of monuments. In the ducal outdoor park, VEB Kali Werra built and maintained the “Georgi Dimitroff” pioneer holiday camp during the GDR era.

In 1992 Reinhardsbrunn Castle was included in the monuments book of the Free State of Thuringia. After the fall of the Wall, the hotel was sold to two western hotel groups through the Treuhandanstalt in the early 1990s. The plan to develop it into a five-star hotel was abandoned. On the occasion of the amicable investment agreement between Andreas Prinz von Sachsen-Coburg and Gotha and the State of Thuringia in 2001, a transfer back to the House of Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha or its foundations, which maintain several castle museums, did not materialize.

In 2006 the castle was sold to the Weimar-based company BOB Consult GmbH. In 2008, Russian investors bought BOB Consult GmbH together with the lock from Rusintech for 12 million euros. The circumstances of the transaction raised suspicions of money laundering at the Thuringian public prosecutor's office. In 2009 the public prosecutor initiated an investigation. Rusintech was founded a few months before the transaction with an initial capital of 10,000 rubles and its turnover in 2008 was zero. According to investigations, the 12 million euros came from an offshore account of Russian Duma deputy Anatoly Ivanovich Ostrjagin of the ruling United Russia party. Ostrjagin's son Konstantin, who lives in London, is the managing director of the company that bought the castle. The Russian owner took out mortgages on the castle. Since then, the property has had debts of almost ten million euros. The castle owner let the deadlines set by the Thuringian District Office pass and did nothing to renovate or secure the property. Thuringia secured the building and repaired the roof at its own expense. Since 2011 there has been a “Friends of Reinhardsbrunn Palace and Park”.

On June 20, 2013, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung published a detailed report on the state of the palace in June 2013. Since 2016, efforts have been made to expropriate the complex in order to preserve the monument. On July 10, 2018, the castle was expropriated by the Thuringia State Administration and transferred to the Free State of Thuringia.

Grave slabs

The grave slabs of the Thuringian landgraves, which have been in the Georgenkirche in Eisenach since 1952, are reproductions of the original ones, which were probably destroyed in a fire in 1292. Three of the stones were made by the same sculptor around 1320, the rest seems to have been made around the middle of the 14th century. After the restoration of the stones under Duchess Dorothea Maria, another was carried out by the sculptor Wolfgang from Gotha in 1864. The eight stones were placed on the west wall of the Reinhardsbrunn Palace Chapel, on the north wall there was a commemorative plaque for one on a base with the year 1301 no longer known deceased, as the inscription was only partially recognizable. On the east wall stood the grave slabs of Frederick I, the bitten or free († 1323), his bones in a box in front of it, next to it the slab of his wife Elisabeth von Arnshaugk († 1359). Grave slabs on the south wall were probably those of Abbot Hermann († 1168) and a Diether von Isenburg († around 1406?). There was a tomb in the church itself.

The following tombstones can be found in the choir of the Georgenkirche:
Figure grave plate for Ludwig the Springer (Ludowinger) († 1123), founder of Reinhardsbrunn Monastery
Figure grave plate for Adelheid († 1110), wife of Ludwig the Springer
Figure grave plate for Landgrave Ludwig I († 1140), son of the founder
Figure grave plate for Landgrave Ludwig II, the Iron († 1172), son of Ludwig I.
Figurine grave plate for Landgravine Jutta († 1191), wife of Ludwig II, sister of Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa
Figure grave plate for Landgrave Ludwig III, the pious († 1190), son of Ludwig II.
Figure grave plate for Landgrave Ludwig IV., The saint († 1227), nephew of Ludwig III. and consort of Saint Elisabeth of Thuringia
Figure grave plate for Landgrave Hermann II († 1241), son of Ludwig IV.