Trausnitz Castle was the home of the Wittelsbach dynasty, and it served as their ducal residence for Lower Bavaria from 1255–1503, and later as the seat of the hereditary rulers of the whole of Bavaria. The castle was founded in 1204 by Duke Ludwig I. By 1235, when Emperor Friedrich stayed in Landshut as a guest of the duke, the castle was largely complete. In the first half of the 13th century, Trausnitz was not only a political centre but also a centre of Staufen culture.
In the 15th century the castle was altered and extended many times. The Princes' Building and the New Knights' Hall were constructed, the ring walls were raised and extended and the striking towers were built. Even today, at four-yearly intervals, the 'Landshut Wedding' is still celebrated with a re-enactment of the festivities organized in 1475 by Ludwig the Rich for the wedding of his son Georg and Hedwig, daughter of the Polish king.
Duke Ludwig X, who lived in Landshut from 1516 on as the co-regent of his brother and the governor of Landshut, gradually redesigned the castle, first in the late Gothic style and later in the Renaissance style. Unfortunately little has remained from this period. Old views of the castle show that in the 16th century the Outer Courtyard was full of buildings serving various functional purposes.
Wilhelm V, born in Landshut in 1548, lived at Trausnitz Castle during the period from 1568 to 1579 prior to becoming the reigning duke. Here he assembled a large number of important artists, musicians and comedians. It was during this period that the castle was decorated with important wall paintings in the style of Florentine Mannerism, most of which were lost in a devastating fire in the year 1961. The paintings were retouched and completed under his grandson Elector Ferdinand Maria from 1675 to 1679, and it was during his era that other rooms of the Princes' Building were painted for the first time.
Ultimately Trausnitz could no longer meet the increasing representational requirements of the baroque rulers. In the 18th century it was put to various uses, for example as a barracks and a prison for aristocratic prisoners, and in 1762 it was used as a manufactory for woollen goods and silk. At the beginning of the 19th century the castle served as a barracks and a hospital, and from 1831 as a cholera hospital. From 1869 appropriate guest accommodation was prepared on the 2nd floor for visits by King Ludwig II, but this was never used.
From the 18th century the electoral bursary registry was also located here, which later became the State Archives for Lower Bavaria. In a devastating fire on 21 October 1961, large sections of the Princes' Building were destroyed, and the castle was subsequently comprehensively restored and renovated.
Included in the tour of the castle are medieval halls such as the impressive vaulted Old Knight's Hall and the castle chapel with its important sculptures and the winged altar-pieces of the Rich Dukes. The Renaissance is represented with vaulted cabinets, panelled rooms and the famous Fools' Staircase with its monumental scenes from the Italian Commedia dell'arte. The tour culminates with a view of the town from the tower terrace.
The Wittelsbach dukes were traditionally great collectors, and examples of their treasures are on display in the Chamber of Art and Curiosities – a branch of the Bavarian National Museum – in the former Ladies' Apartments of Trausnitz Castle.References:
The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.
A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.
In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.
In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.
In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.
From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.
In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.
The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.
In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.
The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.