Castles in the Upper Rhine Valley

Karlsruhe Palace

Karlsruhe Palace was erected in 1715 by Margrave Charles III William of Baden-Durlach, after a dispute with the citizens of his previous capital, Durlach. The city of Karlsruhe has since grown around it. The first building was constructed by Jakob Friedrich von Batzendorf. The city was planned with the tower of the palace at the centre and 32 streets radiating out from it like spokes on a wheel, or ribs on a folding fan. ...
Founded: 1715 | Location: Karlsruhe, Germany

Palais Rohan

The Palais Rohan represents not only the high point of local baroque architecture, but has also housed three of the most important museums in the Strasbourg since the end of the 19th century: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts. The city gallery, Galerie Robert Heitz, is also in a side wing of the palace. The palace was commissioned by Cardinal Armand Gaston Maximilien de ...
Founded: 1731-1742 | Location: Strasbourg, France

Rastatt Palace

Schloss Rastatt is a baroque palace built between 1700 and 1707 by the Italian architect Domenico Egidio Rossi. The palace and garden were built to Margrave Louis William of Baden. During the Palatine war of succession the residence of Margrave Louis William of Baden-Baden had been burnt by French troops. A rebuild of the destroyed castle would not have suited the representative needs of the court of Baden-Baden. Since he ...
Founded: 1700-1707 | Location: Rastatt, Germany

Bruchsal Palace

Bruchsal Palace (Schloss Bruchsal) is the only Prince-Bishop’s residence on the Upper Rhine. It is famous for its opulent Baroque staircase constructed by Balthasar Neumann. Bruchsal Palace was constructed in 1720 as a residence for the Prince-Bishops of Speyer. The then Prince-Bishop, Damian Hugo von Schönborn, an avid art collector, played an important role in planning the complex. The three-wing palace is bu ...
Founded: 1720 | Location: Bruchsal, Germany

Ettlingen Palace

Ettlingen castle was first mentioned in the 13th century. It has been destroyed several times over the centuries, rebuilt and expanded. In 1727 decided the Margravine Sibylla Augusta to use the castle as a retirement home. Johann Michael Rohrer created the Baroque palace from the castle ruins. Artists Riccardo Retti and Lucca Colomba equipped the rooms of sumptuous paintings and stucco. The great master of the late Baroqu ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Ettlingen, Germany

Burkheim Castle Ruins

Burkheim Castle was first mentioned in 1231. After destruction and reconstruction the castle was finally destroyed during the Franco-Dutch War in 1672-1676.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Burkheim, Germany

Hochburg Castle Ruins

Hochburg castle was founded probably by Dietrich von Hachberg in the 11th century - although the first written mention dates from 1127. Between 1553-1577 the fortifications were completely remodeled and seven bastions were added in the early 1600s. Hochburg was however destroyed by catholic forces in the Thirty Years" War in 1634-1636. The reconstruction and modernization took place in 1660-1678, but it was again de ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Hochburg, Germany

Hohenbaden Castle Ruins

Hohenbaden Castle, built in 1102, and known locally as the Altes Schloss (Old Castle) was home from the 11th-15th century to the margraves of Baden. During its heyday in the 15th century, the castle had 100 rooms. In 1479 margraves moved their seat to Baden and the old castle started to decay. In 1599 it was destroyed by fire. From the tower you have a good view over Baden-Baden and distant view of the Rhine valley. The ...
Founded: 1102 | Location: Baden-Baden, Germany

Landskron Castle Ruins

Landskron castle itself was probably built in the early 13th century. Is first mentioned in 1244. This castle was destroyed in 1257 and 1275 by the rebellion Oppenheim citizens. It was rebuilt in 1281. The castle burned down in 1621 during the Thirty Years War. In the Nine Years War, French troops blew up the keep in 1689 to keep. In the following years the citizens used the ruins as a quarry.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oppenheim, Germany

Yburg Castle Ruins

Yburg Castle, built around 1200, takes its name from the outcrop that it occupies: its historical name Iberg probably derives from Eibenberg (yew-tree mountain). Of volcanic origin, the bluff towers over the Rhine valley. The castle, its keep a highly visible landmark, marked the southwestern corner of the territory of the margraves of Baden. In the Peasants’ War of 1525, rebels invaded the castle, causing consider ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Baden-Baden, Germany

Windeck Castle Ruins

Windeck 'old' Castle was built around 1200 by the lords of Windeck. The family, probably of Franconian origin and based in the Ortenau, owned wealthy allodial estates and held numerous fiefs from various liege lords, such as the empire, the Prince-Bishopric of Straßburg, the counts of Eberstein as well as the Vogtei of Schwarzach Abbey as an Afterlehen of the burgraves of Nuremberg. The first documentary evidence da ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Bühl, Germany

Sponeck Castle

The Sponeck castle was built in the late 13th century to the site of late Roman fort (built by Emperor Valentinian I around 365 AD). The castle was destroyed in the Thirty Years War. After several changes of ownership the painter Hans Adolf Buhler acquired it in 1917, rebuilt and set up a studio in the former residential tower. After the painter"s death in 1951 the castle was owned by the family. Today the stone wall ...
Founded: 365/13th century | Location: Jechtingen, Germany

Entenstein Castle

Entenstein Castle is a medieval castle surrounded by a moat situated in the center of the town of Schliengen. The origins of the castle can not be clearly dated. The first use of a building at this location can be traced to Walter of Schliengen in 821. By 1000 a tower house might have been in use. In the 13th century, Rudolf von Üsenberg (1207-1231) was the owner of the castle. The name of the castle derives from the ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Schliengen, Germany

Istein Castle Ruins

Istein castle was a rock castle built by the bishops of Basel in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was first time mentioned in 1185. The castle was stormed in 1410-1411 by the Basler troops. The modern fortress was built in 1900-1914 and destroyed after 1945. St. Vitus Chapel, partially ruined, is one of two original castle chapels built in the 12th centurya. The current small chapel, which was built after the destruction ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Efringen-Kirchen, Germany

Lichteneck Castle Ruins

First mention of the Lichteneck castle dates from 1282 as a property of the Counts of Freiburg. The castle was destroyed on 15 April 1675 by General Vaubrun. Since then, the castle has been ruined.
Founded: 1282 | Location: Hecklingen, Germany

Alt Eberstein Castle Ruins

Alt-Eberstein castle was originally built in 1100 as the primary residence of the Counts of Eberstein, but by the end of the 16th century had been abandoned and much of the castle was torn down to provide materials for other structures. Presently it is a German national monument and a State Palace of Baden-Wuerttemberg. A spur castle situated on a once-strategic mountain peak, the fortress was constructed as the seat of ...
Founded: 1100 | Location: Ebersteinburg, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.