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Hohenzollern Castle
Burg Hohenzollern
50 kilometers (31 mi) south of Stuttgart
Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Burg Hohenzollern ak.jpg
Hohenzollern Castle
Type Castle
Coordinates Latitude: 48.32299
Longitude: 8.96833

Hohenzollern Castle (German: About this sound Burg Hohenzollern ) [n 1] is a castle approximately 50 kilometers (31 mi) south of Stuttgart, Germany. It is considered the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family, which emerged in the Middle Ages and eventually became German Emperors.

The castle is located on top of Berg (Mount) Hohenzollern, at an elevation of 855 meters (2,805 ft) above sea level; 234 m (768 ft) above the towns of Hechingen[n 2] and nearby Bisingen, to the south. Both are located at the foothills of the Schwäbische Alb. The castle was first constructed in the early 11th century. When the Hohenzollern family split into cadet branches, the castle remained the property of the Swabian branch of the family, who were the dynastic seniors of the Franconian/Brandenburg branch that later acquired an imperial throne. The castle was completely destroyed after a 10-month siege in 1423 by the imperial cities of Swabia. A second, larger and more sturdy castle was constructed from 1454 to 1461, and served as a refuge for the Catholic Swabian Hohenzollerns during wartime; including during the Thirty Years' War. By the end of the 18th century, however, the castle was thought to have lost its strategic importance and gradually fell into disrepair, leading to the demolition of several dilapidated buildings. Today, only the chapel remains from the medieval castle.

The third version of the castle, which stands today, was constructed for King Frederick William IV of Prussia between 1846 and 1867. The castle was built under the direction of architect Friedrich August Stüler, who based his design on English Gothic Revival architecture and the Châteaux of the Loire Valley.[1] The castle was built as a family memorial, thus, no member of the Hohenzollern family was in permanent or regular residence when it was completed. In 1945 it became home to the last German/Prussian Crown Prince - Wilhelm - who is buried there with his wife, Crown Princess Cecilie.

Among the historical artifacts of Prussian history contained in the castle are the Crown of Wilhelm II, some of the personal effects of King Frederick the Great and a letter from US President George Washington thanking Baron von Steuben[n 3] for his service in the American Revolutionary War. The castle is today a popular tourist destination.

Location[edit | edit source]

The castle is located on top of Mount Hohenzollern, an isolated mountain 855 m (2,805 ft) above sea level. Among the locals this mountain is known as Zollerberg (Zoller Mountain) or simply as Zoller. Located on the western side of the Schwäbische 'Alb' region and close to Hechingen, the mountain lends its name to the local geographic region, der Zollernalbkreis.

History[edit | edit source]

First castle[edit | edit source]

The first Medieval castle of the House of Hohenzollern was mentioned for the first time in 1267. However the castle appears to date back to the 11th century. In 1423, the castle was besieged for over a year by troops from the Swabian Free Imperial Cities. On 15 May 1423, the castle was finally taken and totally destroyed. Of the first castle only written records still exist.

Second castle[edit | edit source]

In 1454, construction on the second castle began. While this castle was much stronger than the first, during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) it was captured by Württemberg troops in 1634. Following the Thirty Years' War the castle was under Habsburg control for about a century. During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), the castle was occupied by French soldiers during the Winter of 1744/45. Following the war, the Habsburgs continued to own the castle, but it was rarely occupied. When the last Austrian owner left the castle in 1798 it began to totally fall to ruins. By the beginning of the 19th century the castle was a ruin, with only the Chapel of St. Michael remaining usable.

Third castle[edit | edit source]

View of the castle and surrounding countryside

One of the castle towers

Central courtyard of the Castle

The castle was rebuilt by Crown-Prince (and later King) Frederick William IV of Prussia. During a trip to Italy in 1819, he travelled through southern Germany and wished to learn about his family's roots, so climbed to the top of Mount Hohenzollern.[2] The current castle is the work of the famous Berlin Architect Friedrich August Stüler, who, while still the student and heir of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, was appointed the Architect of the King in 1842. The castle is constructed in the Gothic Revival style. The impressive entryway is the work of the Engineer-Officer Moritz Karl Ernst von Prittwitz who was considered the leading fortifications engineer in Prussia. The sculptures around and inside the castle are the work of Gustav Willgohs. The Hohenzollern Castle is a monument to the ideals of the German Romanticism movement and incorporated the idealized vision of what a medieval knight's castle should be. In this way, Hohenzollern Castle is similar to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, though without the fantastic elements that cover Neuschwanstein. The castle also served to enhance the reputation of the Prussian Royal Family, by rebuilding the ancestral castle in such an ornate form. Construction began in 1850, and was funded entirely by the Brandenburg-Prussian and the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen lines of the Hohenzollern family. Seventeen years later construction was completed on 3 October 1867 under Frederick William IV's brother King William I. The castle was damaged in an earthquake on 3 September 1978, and was under repair until the mid-1990s.

Function[edit | edit source]

After the castle was rebuilt, it was not regularly occupied, but rather used primarily as a showpiece. Only the last Prussian Crown Prince William lived in the castle for several months, following his flight from Potsdam during the closing months of World War II. William and his wife Crown Princess Cecilie are both buried at the castle, as the family's estates in Brandenburg had been occupied by the Soviet Union.

Since 1952, the castle has been filled with art and historical artifacts, from the collection of the Hohenzollern family and from the former Hollenzollern Museum in Schloss Monbijou. Two of the major pieces in the collection are the Prussian king's crown and a uniform that belonged to Frederick the Great. From 1952 until 1991, the caskets of Frederick Wilhelm I and Frederick the Great were in the chapel. Following the German reunification in 1991, the caskets were moved back to Potsdam.

On 3 September 1978, the Hohenzollern Castle closed after sustaining extensive damage due to an earthquake in the Alb region that injured 15 persons in the cities of Tailfingen, Burladingen and Onstmettingen, Albstadt.[3] An additional 20 people were trapped by falling rubble.

Hohenzollern castle is still privately owned. Two-thirds of the castle belong to the Brandenburg-Prussian line of the Hohenzollern (presently Georg Friedrich, Prince of Prussia), while one-third is owned by the Swabian line of the family (Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern). Since 1954, the castle has also been used by the Princess Kira of Prussia Foundation to provide a summer camp for needy children from Berlin. Hohenzollern castle has over 300,000 visitors per year, making it one of the most visited castles in Germany.[4]

Burials[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes and References[edit | edit source]

  1. pronounced close to the English approximation: /bʊərɡhhɛntsɒlərn/
  2. Hechingen is the 6th largest town in the Landkreis; The largest being Albstadt
  3. Baron von Steuben was a scion of the House of Hohenzollern
  1. Herbert Gers. Hohenzollern Castle. 5th ed. Hechingen: Administration of Hohenzollern Castle, 1984.
  2. Kennzeichen BL Heimatkunde für den Zollernalbkreis; Herausgeber:Waldemar Lutz, Jürgen Nebel und Hansjörh Noe; Lörrach, Stuttgart, 1987 ISBN 3-12-258310-0; S.121/2
  3. "Damage Heavy As Big Quake Rocks Germany". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Google news. 4 September 1978. p. 2. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=EtYVAAAAIBAJ&sjid=_xEEAAAAIBAJ&pg=5184,522162&dq=earthquake+germany&hl=en. Retrieved 2013-01-17. 
  4. Des Prinzen neue Töne. In: Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 10. Mai 2003(German)
  • Rolf Bothe: Burg Hohenzollern. Von der mittelalterlichen Burg zum nationaldynastischen Denkmal im 19. Jahrhundert. Berlin 1979, ISBN 3-7861-1148-0
  • Ulrich Feldhahn (Hg.): Beschreibung und Geschichte der Burg Hohenzollern. Berlin Story Verlag, Berlin, 1.Auflage 2006, ISBN 3-929829-55-X
  • Patrick Glückler: Burg Hohenzollern. Kronjuwel der Schwäbischen Alb. Hechingen 2002; 127 Seiten; ISBN 3-925012-34-6
  • Rudolf Graf von Stillfried-Alcantara: Beschreibung und Geschichte der Burg Hohenzollern. Nachdruck der Ausgabe von 1870. Berlin Story Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-929829-55-X
  • Friedrich Hossfeld und Hans Vogel: Die Kunstdenkmäler Hohenzollerns, erster Band: Kreis Hechingen. Holzinger, Hechingen 1939, S. 211 ff.

External links[edit | edit source]

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