Hohenneuffen Castle is a large ruined castle in the northern foothills of the Swabian situated on a large late Jurassic rock. There is evidence for a pre-historic, iron age settlement on Hohenneuffen. It functioned as an outpost for the oppidum at Heidengraben during the late La Tène period in the first century BCE.
The pre-Germanic name Neuffen is derived from the proto-Celtic adjective nobos, meaning holy or sacred, implying that the mountain had a religious rather than a military function 2000 years ago.
The castle was built between 1100 and 1120 by Mangold von Sulmetingen who later changed his name to include the element von Neuffen. The first documentary evidence dates from 1198. At that time the castle was still in possession of the family von Neuffen, a member of which was the Minnesänger Gottfried von Neifen. The castle went into the possession of the Lords of Weinsberg at the end of the 13th century who sold it on to the Counts of Württemberg in 1301. The castle proved its defensive worth in 1312 when, during the internal strife within the Holy Roman Empire following the election of Henry VII as Holy Roman Emperor, it could not be conquered.
The expansion of Hohenneuffen Castle into a fortress began in the 14th century. However, the most important alterations to the castle structure were conducted by Duke Ulrich of Württemberg in the first half of the 16th century. Barbicans, round towers, bastions, a building for the commanding officer, casemates, stables, an armoury as well as two cisterns were built. Essentially, these fortification did not change for the next two hundred years. While the fortress had to surrender to troops from the Swabian League in 1519, it withstood the insurgent peasants' attempt to take it during the German Peasants' War of 1524/25.
The castle was besieged by Imperial forces for more than a year during the Thirty Years' War. In November 1635 the commanding officer Johann Philipp Schnurm and his dispirited troops managed to negotiate a surrender, allowing Schnurm and his men to depart with their weapons and possessions. Yet, in violation of the agreed terms the troops were forced to serve in the Imperial army and Schnurm lost all his possessions.
Duke Karl Alexander of Württemberg planned to have Hohenneuffen altered into a fortress following the French model. Yet he died before the task was completed and his successor, Karl Eugen abandoned the plan due to the high costs and the doubtful military benefit. In 1793 it was decided to raze the castle and to sell off the building materials. The castle went out of use in 1795 and was finally destined for destruction in 1801. The inhabitants of the surrounding area were happy to utilise the cheap building materials. Only from 1830 onwards the remains of the castle were safeguarded from further destruction and in the 1860s public access to the ruin was allowed. In 1862 an inn was established in one of the buildings in the upper bailey.
Similar to other fortresses Hohenneuffen was used as a holding place for prisoners of the state, where important prisoners were held and, if deemed necessary, tortured. Amongst those were a young Count of Helfenstein who fell to his death in 1502 whilst trying to escape from the castle. In 1512 Duke Ulrich had the abbot of Zwiefalten Abbey, Georg Fischer, imprisoned at the castle. On the orders of Duke Ulrich the reeve of Tübingen, Konrad Breuning, was held and tortured here before being beheaded in 1517 in Stuttgart. Matthäus Enzlin, Geheimrat at the court of Duke Johann Frederick of Württemberg, attempted several escapes whilst being imprisoned on Hohenneuffen in the early 16th century. In 1737 Joseph Süß Oppenheimer, Court Jew to Duke Karl Alexander was incarcerated on Hohenneuffen for several weeks before being relocated to Hohenasperg, finally to be executed in Stuttgart in 1738.
Today, access to Hohenneuffen Castle is free for the public and some of the casemates are accessible. There is also a restaurant, beer garden and a kiosk. Furthermore, the castle is also used for concerts and a medieval-style market.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.