Wülzburg Fortress

Weissenburg, Germany

Wülzburg fortress is situated on the highest point of the south Frankenalb, which rises to 640m. Surrounded by adry moat hewn into the rock, it is an imposing and singular monument of a Renaissance fortress in Germany.

From the 11th century onwards a Benedictine monastery stood here. During the Reformation it was dissolved, a provost was put in charge followed by a civil administration in 1537. In 1588 Margrave Georg Friedrich d. A. von Brandenburg-Ansbach erected a pentagonal fortress with the bastions in modern Italian fortification style. The site was well chosen in the southern part of his territory, close to the imperial city of Weissenburg.

To the imperial citizens of Weissenburg the fortress always caused anxiety and posed a threat, especially during the Thirty Years War. In 1631 the fortress, into which the family of the Margrave had fled, was handed over to General Tilly (imperial side) without fighting. Until the end of the war it remained in the hands of the imperial troops or those in league with them. They survived all blockades and brought havoc to the town during periods, when it was held by the enemy.

The original castle tract was destroyed by a great fire. It was re-erected after the Thirty Years' War. In 1791 the fortress passed into Prussian, in 1802 into Bavarian hands. In 1867 its status as fortress was cancelled and in 1882 the Bavarian king sold it- with the exception of the south wing – to Weissenburg. In the 19th and 20th century it served as prison and refugee camp, Charles de Gaulle being kept here in 1918. After 1945 the castle was renovated and now houses aschool.

The castle chapel has the remarkable tombstone of abbot Wilhelm (died 1449).

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Details

Founded: 1588
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Reformation & Wars of Religion (Germany)

More Information

www.weissenburg.info

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Lidia sch (3 months ago)
Wunderschöne Aussicht, sehr sehenswert. Wer Hunger hat, kann da auch was zu essen bekommen im Wirtshaus
Karl Themel (8 months ago)
Some pretty important people were imprisoned here.
Przemek Brzezinski (9 months ago)
Wurzburg
Jur Veninga (2 years ago)
It's a great view from here. Not much going on, lots of restaurations. There is a place to eat to.
Chris Bell 59 (3 years ago)
In 1940 Schloss Wulzburg seved as an internment camp for civilians of enemy nations including Britain, Holland, France and Egypt. It's most famous prisoner was Giles Romilly, the nephew of Winston Churchill. As such he was held in einzelhaft or solitary confinement for 5 months as a "Prominente" prisoner.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.