Sigmaringen Castle (Schloss Sigmaringen)

Sigmaringen Castle


Location: Swabian Alps, Baden-Württemberg  Map

Constructed: 1893

Entrance Fee: 9 Euro, students 7 Euro, children (60 17) 5 Euro, children under 6 free

Open: Apr- Oct 9am- 5pm

Nov- March 10am- 4pm


Description of Sigmaringen Castle

Sigmaringen Castle is located in the Swabian Alps, Baden-Württemberg region of the Germany. The original medieval Sigmaringen Castle dates back to the 11th century. It served as the main residence of the Princes of Hohenzollern- Sigmaringed, the younger branch of the Hohenzollern family. However most of the structure that you see today here was constructed in 1893. Most of the towers of Sigmaringen Castle, however, belong the early medieval period. As you walk through its picturesque streets you might notice pieces of barb wire in various corners of the impressive complex. These are reminders of the time when French Vichy Regime allied with the Nazi Germany during the World War II had its headquarters here following the Allied Invasion of France in 1944. The stay was fairly brief, but the Gestapo or secret police tried to preserve their puppet government for as long as they could.


Sigmaringen is located on the southern edge of the Swabian Alb. The Prince's Palace was built below the narrow breakthrough valley of the Danube in what is now the Upper Danube Nature Park. The castle sits enthroned on an elongated limestone cliff of the Weißjura, the "Schlossberg", which narrows the Danube. The rock ridge is around 200 meters long and rises up to 35 meters above the Danube. The castle built on the free-standing rock is the largest of all Danube valley castles. The rock slopes steeply to the north and east of the Danube and provided strategic protection for a medieval castle. The castle is located at around 605 meters above sea level, the Danube at 570 meters.

In the 11th century, at the end of the Early Middle Ages, the first castle was built on the rock that closed off the valley. It was first mentioned in 1077 after the unsuccessful siege of Sigmaringen Castle by Rudolf von Swabia in the war against Emperor Heinrich IV. In 1083 the brothers Ludwig and Manegold von Sigmaringen were first attested in Heratskirch (near Saulgau) as witnesses to a document for the Königseggwald monastery. Ludwig von Sigmaringen was married to Richinza von Spitzenberg, daughter of Berthold I von Zähringen. At the end of the 11th century he built a castle on the Spitzenberg near Kuchen. The Spitzenberg and the area belonging to it were inherited from this Richinza. From this marriage came the four children Mathilde von Spitzenberg, the wife of Aribo von Wertingen, the clergyman Ulrich von Sigmaringen, Ludwig II. Von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg and Manegold von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg. The three brothers Ulrich, Ludwig and Mangold von Sigmaringen are named in the 11th century as the founders of the Sankt Georgen monastery in the Black Forest.

From 1133 to 1170 Rudolf von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg, son of Ludwig II. Von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg, is called Count Ludwig von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg-Helfenstein, son of Rudolf in 1183. As early as 1147, Ludwig was mentioned in a document of Walters von Dillingen, Bishop of Augsburg, together with his father Rudolf and his brothers Ulrich II. Von Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg and Gottfried von Spitzenberg, Bishop of Würzburg, as Lord von Spitzenberg-Sigmaringen. Under the Counts of Helfenstein, Sigmaringen Castle was rebuilt around 1200, or it was completely rebuilt using a humpback square construction. Between 1209 and 1258 Count Gottfried von Sigmaringen-Helfenstein and his son Count Gebhard von Sigmaringen-Pietengau are attested. In 1258, Count Gebhard's cousin, Count Ulrich II. Von Helfenstein, became the owner of Sigmaringen Castle. Count Ulrich II's daughter Agnes married Count Ulrich I von Montfort. With that, Sigmaringen went to the Counts of Montfort in 1272. Count Hugo V of Montfort, son of Count Ulrich I of Montfort, sold the castle with the county, the town of Sigmaringen, to Albrecht and Rudolf von Habsburg in 1290.

Before 1325, Duke Luipold von Habsburg pledged the castle and the county of Sigmaringen to the Counts of Württemberg, later they owned both. In 1399, Count Eberhard von Württemberg finally handed over his own property, the castle and county of Sigmaringen and the Austrian pledge of Veringen to his uncle and confidante, Count Eberhard III. von Werdenberg (1387–1416), called zu Heiligenberg, a fiefdom. His son, Count Johann IV von Werdenberg (1416–1465) and his wife, Countess von Württemberg (married without Württemberg's consent) acquired the county of Sigmaringen including the castle in 1459. As a clever move and to secure his property, he declared it as an Austrian fief as early as the following year. Between 1460 and 1500, under the Counts of Werdenberg, the castle was rebuilt and expanded to become Sigmaringen Castle, the expansion of which has survived to this day.

Hugo IX of Sigmaringen (1459–1508), son of Johann IV., died without male offspring. His sister Anna von Werdenberg married Count Friedrich von Fürstenberg in 1516. In 1521 Christoph (1494-1534) was with his brothers Johann VI. and Felix I. von Werdenberg enfeoffed Sigmaringen for the last time by Emperor Charles V. Count Christoph married Johanna von Bröseln, widow of Count Eitel Friedrich III, in 1526 after his first marriage to Eleonore Gonzaga remained childless. from Hohenzollern. With the exception of Christoph's daughter Anna, the wife of Friedrich II von Fürstenberg, all of his children died very early.

According to the Zimmerischer Chronik, before 1530, when Count Felix I and Leonora Werdenberg (the illegitimate daughter of Hugos IX and mistress Felix and Christoph von Werdenberg) paid too little attention to the fire there, a fire broke out in the bathhouse entire “Hünderhaus” expanded.


In 1534, after the death of the last male Werdenberger, Count Friedrich von Fürstenberg laid claim to the inheritance. However, King Ferdinand I enfeoffed Karl (1516–1576), the son of Johanna von Bröseln's first marriage with Eitel Friedrich III. von Hohenzollern, with the counties Sigmaringen and Veringen. Karl I was the first Hohenzoller to rule Sigmaringen.

In 1539 there was another castle fire.

In 1540 Sigmaringen and Veringen finally came to the House of Hohenzollern via the so-called "Pfullendorfer Treaty". Count Karl I von Hohenzollern moved into the castle. Karl II of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1547–1606), son of Karl I of Hohenzollern, was Count of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from 1576 to 1606. Karl II was the progenitor of the Sigmaringer line since 1575. He had the castle rebuilt. Between 1576 and 1606 he had the vaulting of the castle entrance built and ordered the new building of the church next to the castle. In 1576, the Hohenzollern parent company was divided into the four lines of Hohenzollern (went out in 1602), Hohenzollern-Haigerloch (went out in 1634), Hohenzollern-Hechingen (went out in 1869) and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. From then until 1850, Sigmaringen was the capital and residence of the Principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.

Johann von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1578–1638), son of Count Karl II., Was Count of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from 1606 to 1623. The family was raised to the rank of imperial prince in 1623. Charles II was thus the first prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from 1623 to 1638.

The devastation of the Thirty Years' War did not stop at Sigmaringen. The castle was occupied by the Swedes in 1632 and liberated by the imperial family the following year. Johann himself stayed in Bavaria, where he died in 1638, four years after his wife, at the age of 60. Johann's son Meinrad I von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1605–1681) was prince from 1638 to 1681. After the fire destroyed the eastern part of the castle during the reconquest under General Horn in 1633, Meinrad I had the burnt-out parts rebuilt by Michael Beer in 1658 and 1659 and the two Werdenberg eastern buildings connected under one roof. Maximilian (1636–1689), son of Prince Meinrad I, was Prince of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen from 1681 to 1689. His son Meinrad II (1673-1715) ruled from 1689 to 1715 as prince. He ruled Haigerloch from 1698. Joseph (1702–1769) ruled from 1715 to 1769 and in 1724 ordered the rebuilding of the stables. In addition, he had Sigmaringen Castle modernized and rebuilt in 1736 and the knight's hall turned into an ancestral hall. The so-called Fürst-Josephs-Bau is a reminder of this time. His son Karl Friedrich von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen ruled from 1769 to 1785. His son Anton Aloys (1762–1831), who ruled from 1785 to 1831, had the so-called fruit box converted into a five-storey cavalier building, the so-called Wilhelmsbau, between 1815 and 1817.

Prince Karl von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen (1785-1853), son of Anton Aloys, ruled from 1831 to 1848. In 1833, Karl convened a constituent state parliament and proclaimed a constitutional charter as a constitution for the principality. He founded the state hospital and had the estate building on Leopoldsplatz in Sigmaringen built (today the seat of the Hohenzollerische Landesbank). Charles's achievement was also the abolition of serfdom and various basic burdens. His wife Antoinette (1793–1847) began to redecorate the princely residence according to French chic, starting with the furniture to the wallpaper and the mirrors for the dining room. It gave the House of Hohenzollern access to the European aristocracy. The future French Emperor Napoleon III stayed as a guest of the Princess. several times in Sigmaringen.


In the course of the German Revolution of 1848, Karl abdicated in favor of his more liberal-minded son Karl Anton (1848–1885). In 1857 the hospital was renamed “Fürst-Carl-Landesspital” after him. In 1869 he became Prince of Hohenzollern after the death of the last Prince of Hohenzollern-Hechingen Constantine and the annexation of this area. Karl Anton became known as the “master builder of the Hohenzollern”, he built the castle into a meeting place for the European nobility. To this end, in 1855 he had the walls on the upper floor removed and the so-called Old German Hall installed. In 1864 he created the weapons hall by redesigning the vaulted room above the southern perimeter wall. From 1862 to 1867 the new building of the art gallery was built as a gallery building (today a museum). In order to do justice to the representative duties as a member of the German aristocracy, he had the dining room redesigned into a French salon by the Parisian architect Lambert in 1872. In 1877 he had the keep raised, removed the Welsche hood and put on a pointed helmet. The following year the ancestral hall was redesigned. "Castle tours" have been offered in the castle since 1871, during which the history of the castle and the Hohenzollern family is reproduced. Leopold von Hohenzollern (1835–1905), whose candidacy for the throne for Spain triggered the Franco-German War from 1870–1871, ruled from 1885 to 1905 as Prince of the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Hohenzollern.

On April 17, 1893, while the power lines were being laid behind the paper wallpaper, solder dripped off a smoldering fire. In the evening at 7.45 p.m., the fire brigades from Sigmaringen, Laiz, Inzigkofen, Jungnau, Krauchenwies, Bingen, Hitzkofen, Sigmaringendorf, Mengen, Scheer and Riedlingen rushed to the fire. After ten hours of use, the fire was brought under control, but the east wing was almost completely destroyed.

Between 1895 and 1908, under court building officer Johannes de Pay (1840–1899), the royal court building officer Albert Geyer (1846–1938) from Berlin, and from 1900 the Munich architect Emanuel von Seidl (1860–1919), the destroyed part was rebuilt and the library building was rebuilt erected and the Römerturm and the Wilhelmsbau rebuilt and greatly changed in their appearance. The concept for the extensive redesign goes back to the planning of Albert Geyer. The building plans are kept as a deposit in the Princely Hohenzollern House and Domain Archives in the Sigmaringen State Archives. Francophile influences led to the installation of a boudoir and bidets. In 1899 and 1906, other areas of the castle were completely redesigned in the style of eclecticism. In addition, Leopold had the so-called Portuguese Gallery built with its shell ornamentation typical of Emanuel von Seidl. The Muschelsaal in the Augustiner brewery in Munich, which the architect completed as the first major work in 1897, shows the artistic approach that can be found in the Portuguese gallery. This phase of construction only came to an end under Leopold's son Wilhelm von Hohenzollern (1864–1927), Prince of the House from 1905 to 1927.

In 1901, the construction of the tower was demolished in Leopold's time. An octagonal, pointed helmet roof made of tuff was created.

Wilhelm's son Friedrich von Hohenzollern (1891-1965) was head of the house from 1927 to 1965. He had the carriage shed on the lower floor of the museum expanded into an early history museum.

After the Allied landing in France during the Second World War, Philippe Pétain, Pierre Laval and other members of the French Vichy regime were evacuated to Sigmaringen Castle in September 1944, which from then on - together with the Prinzenbau - enjoyed extraterritorial status as a French enclave until April 1945. Here the Nazis tried to persuade Pétain to participate in a fascist government and to appoint Jacques Doriot as head of government, but he refused and considered himself a prisoner of war. The princely family was forcibly evacuated by the Gestapo and interned at the Stauffenberg family's Wilflingen Castle, which had been confiscated after the failed assassination attempt on July 20, 1944. The French writers Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Lucien Rebatet feared for their lives because of their political and anti-Jewish writings and fled to Sigmaringen together with the Vichy government. Celine's novel “D'un château à l'autre”, 1957 (German: “From one castle to another”) describes the end of the war and the conquest of Sigmaringen on April 22, 1945 by troops of the 1st French Army. The confiscation by France did not end until November 1951 and the castle was returned to the royal family.


At the end of the 1970s - during a steel crisis - Friedrich Wilhelm Fürst von Hohenzollern had to sell parts of the family property in order to maintain the Laucherthal ironworks. Since the death of his wife Margarita in 1996, Friedrich Wilhelm Prince of Hohenzollern has been living in seclusion in the country house of the Josefslust wildlife park between Krauchenwies and Sigmaringen, which the son and successor Karl Friedrich Prince of Hohenzollern had rebuilt after his father's death in 2010. Since then, the castle has been temporarily resident again, and access to the area has been severely restricted. The administration of the Fürst von Hohenzollern group of companies and the museum are located in the castle.

Since 2001, special themed tours have been offered in addition to the existing castle tour. In 2013, the year of the garden show in Sigmaringen, Sigmaringen Castle had more than 100,000 visitors for the first time.

There are guided tours through the castle all year round; in its current size and appearance, it is the result of three building eras.

The medieval castle from the 11th to 13th centuries under the counts of Sigmaringen-Spitzenberg and Spitzenberg-Helfenstein.
The reconstruction and expansion of the castle under the Counts of Werdenberg.
The expansion to the princely residence of the princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen

Castle complex
The former Sigmaringen Castle, which originated from the Buckelquaderepoche around 1200, was completely incorporated into the successor buildings. It originated on the eastern part of the ridge. It is one of the best fortified castles of the era.

The facility at that time, a summit castle, measured 80 × 30 meters, with the core castle taking up 45 × 20 meters. The gently sloping and thus endangered west side was secured by a 25 to 26 meter high keep. It had an almost square footprint of 8.23 ​​× 8.34 meters. The foundation walls of the front are 3 meters thick and otherwise 2.5 meters thick. The once four-story keep tapers only slightly to 2.50 or 2 meters. The masonry had a hump square facing made of limestone and Nagelfluh. It could be entered at a height of around eight meters through an entrance on the courtyard side. On the left side, in a northerly direction, next to this front tower was the castle gate with the adjoining goalkeeper's house. The 2.28 meter wide and 3.96 meter high castle gate was built as a round arch with smooth arch stones and a combatant capital. Today it is at the end of the steep ramp-like gate hall. The rock plateau was also enclosed by an inner wall. From the main residential building (Palas) at that time with its arched friezes and the connected kitchen building to the north of it, at the highest point to the steep drop, remains on the outer wall have been preserved. On the south side, six meters lower than the main castle, was a ten to twelve meter wide and also walled forecourt. Today's weapons hall is located here. On the east side towards the mill there is an approximately two meter wide niche opening, probably a lower castle entrance. The six to eight meter high and also humpback-faced outer wall forms the basis of the castle buildings today. The keep has a north-facing opening in the inner masonry of the first floor. This is access to a narrow secret passage leading to the Danube, which was probably used lying or crawling.

Worth seeing
Mighty halls and salons with magnificent furniture, paintings and valuable porcelain give visitors an insight into the courtly splendor of the past centuries. Collections from prehistoric times are shown as well as works by Swabian painters, sculptors and blacksmiths. The weapon hall shows one of the largest private weapon collections in Europe with exhibits from the Middle Ages to the present day. The Marstallmuseum presents the princely vehicle fleet.

Weapon collection

The weapons collection in Sigmaringen Castle, with around 3,000 exhibits, is the largest private weapons collection in Europe. The princely collection can be traced back to Prince Karl Anton von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. It is thanks to his passion for collecting, in the middle of the 18th century, that one of the most extensive and beautiful collections of weapons is located in Sigmaringen Castle. The exhibits in the collection show the history and development from the 14th century to the 20th century. The rare and valuable pieces also include all sorts of curiosities and unique weapons, for example a German organ gun from the 15th century as the predecessor of today's automatic fire guns, made from a tree trunk with five small-caliber cast iron tubes inserted. In addition to 90 armor and plate armor, there are balaclavas and combat helmets from the 15th to 17th centuries. The exhibits show the development of striking weapons, grip weapons and a number of handguns. Cut, thrust and firearms of any caliber round off the collection. The impressive weapon collection is not limited to European weapons, but also offers “exotic” items, such as Persian weapons and Japanese combat equipment of a samurai.

Another collection of medieval torture instruments is located in the so-called gallery building west of the castle. The torture chamber with its rare instruments is evidence of earlier jurisdiction.

Princely Museum
The gallery building, which was built between 1862 and 1867 under Prince Karl Anton according to plans by Baurat Krüger from Düsseldorf, houses the Princely Museum. This goes back to Prince Karl Anton, with whom the passion for collecting in the Hohenzollern family reached its peak. He opened his art treasures to the public on October 5, 1867. The Düsseldorf painter Andreas Müller designed the room as an art gallery. The museum shows important works of art from the prince's collection, with characteristic works by Swabian masters. Here works from the fields of painting, sculpture, glass and blacksmithing tell stories from the religious life of the 15th and 16th centuries. The art museum was renovated in 2007, but is currently not open to the public.

Prehistoric and early historical collection
Also in the gallery building there is the Prehistory and Early History Collection, one of the most important in Baden-Württemberg. The exhibits stored there date from the Stone Age to the Alemannic Period (10,000 BC to 700 AD), including finds from Sigmaringen's Roman past. In addition to his passion for weapons and hunting, Karl Anton was a passionate historian and archaeologist. In 1881, Roman shards and iron parts were found during the construction of water pipes on the Sigmaringen market square, these finds prompted him in the summer of 1881 to commission Hofrat F. A. von Lehner to search for a villa rustica in the “Steinäcker” estate and to research it archaeologically. In addition to finds from this estate, there are other finds from similar estates in the collections, including those from the excavation in the “Wachtelhau” area and those from the Roman estate in Laucherthal.

The so-called Marstall building is located south-west of the castle on the hillside of the castle hill. The building contains the Marstallmuseum, an exhibition of the princely vehicle fleet. 17 rare carriages, wagons, sleighs and sedan chairs are presented there, including a specially equipped hunting carriage from 1800 and the “Gala-Berline” of Prince Karl Anton, which he used as a state carriage in Düsseldorf. In addition, courtly items about the royal stables, such as saddles, horseshoes and spurs. Some of the fire pumps on display are reminiscent of the castle fire of 1893, which raged for three days because the connecting pieces of the surrounding fire brigades did not match and therefore the water had to be passed up the mountain by hand from the Danube in a chain with buckets to avoid the fire to delete.

The Marstall Museum is currently not open to the public.

Court library

The Princely Hohenzollern Court Library in Sigmaringen is one of the largest private libraries in Baden-Württemberg with around 200,000 volumes. It is located in the so-called Wilhelmsbau and is characterized by high rooms with stucco ceilings, long corridors with meter-high and -long shelves in which valuable books are lined up. Works of art adorn the rooms. The court library has a universal scientific character. There are focuses in the areas of literature, art and history, especially in regional history. In addition, other sciences are also represented. The court library is also well stocked in the areas of forestry, heraldry (heraldry) and genealogy, topics that play a special role in the aristocracy. Prince Friedrich was a great lover of orchids, which is why the court library, for example, is well sorted in this area. The court library has a larger collection of novels and upscale entertainment literature, which is available for loan during opening hours. The inventory that the House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen has maintained since the beginning of the rule in 1535 includes valuable old manuscripts, such as a so-called Legendarium, a collection of legends of saints from the 12th century.

The castle archive comprises almost two kilometers of historical documents. These provide, for example, information about Count Johann von Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, who became a prince in 1623, or document what the contract of 1849 was all about, which sealed the handover of the Hohenzollern principalities to Prussia.