Wildenberg Castle

Kirchzell, Germany

The ruins of the Wildenberg hill castle lie on a northeast-projecting hill spur, the Schlossberg. The lords of Dürn, meritorious members of the retinue of the Hohenstaufen emperor and Schutzvögte of Amorbach Abbey, had the castle built sometime between 1180 and around 1200. According to the Amorbach Abbey chronicles, however, his grandson Conrad I of Dürn (died 1258) started construction in 1216. This probably just refers, however, to the construction of the gate tower.

In 1271 and 1272 parts of the castle were sold, due to the Dürn's financial difficulties to the Archbishopric of Mainz and later to the Amt of the Mainz government, after the Barony of Walldürn had been purchased in its entirety in 1292 by Mainz. Its management was initially exercised by officiates, but later by a vogt or burgrave. In 1291, a certain Henry was the officiate, around 1320 it was Conrad Rüdt of Collenberg. In 1337 Archbishop Henry reconciled with his cathedral chapter and signed over Wildenberg Castle to the canons for a short period. In 1350 the Amt of the castle was enfeoffed to Eberhard of Rosenberg. In 1354 Conrad Rüdt of Collenberg redeemed the fief. By increasing his borrowings from the Archbishop of Mainz, Conrad also received the offices of Walldürn and Buchen. In 1356 an earthquake is said to have seriously damaged the castle. In January that year Archbishop Gerlach enfeoffed the castle of Wildenburg, the town Amorbach and a free tenancy in Miltenberg, without the consent of his cathedral chapter, to Engelhard of Hirschhorn. One year later, he lent money to his Wildeburg burgrave, Conrad Rüdt of Collenberg.

From 1368 Wiprecht of Dürn, Eberhardt Rüdt of Bödigheim, Fritz of Dürn and Eberhard of Fechenbach were the Mainz castellans. In the later period up to the 15th century, members of these families were mentioned as Amtmänner.

In the years 1400 to 1511 the castle was extended in a late medieval style. The west tower and barrier wall through the castle courtyard were built, and the castle chapel renovated.

Until 1525, the castle was still the headquarters of a Mainz Amtmann for the Amt Amorbach. In the German Peasants' War, peasants from the Heller Haufen led by the knight Götz of Berlichingenrazed Wildenberg Castle on 4 May 1525. Since then, it has been a ruin.

In 1803, as part of the process of secularization, the castle was seized by the Principality of Leiningen for a short time. In 1806, the Principality of Leiningen was mediatised by the Grand Duchy of Baden. By 1810 the castle and the area around Amorbach became part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse-Darmstadt and, in 1816, was transferred to the Kingdom of Bavaria in an exchange of territory.

Parts of the castle were used in the 19th century to build the artificial ruins of Eulbach Park.

Today, the castle ruins are a popular hiking destination and occasionally used for cultural events.

In essence, the approximately rectangular, 80-metre-long, Hohenstaufen period inner ward has survived, having been little altered over the centuries. A diagonally oriented bergfried stands on the uphill side. On the south side is a gate tower with a stepped portal and a castle chapel with bay window on the upper storey of the apse. The spacious palas is situated on the downhill side of the castle. Its window arches on the upper floor, which are comparable to those of the imperial palace of Gelnhausen and Château de Guirbaden in Alsace, are of high artistic value.

The partition wall in the middle of the courtyard is a post-Hohenstaufen addition. That apart, there have been hardly any structural changes to the castle over the years, which is why Wildenberg, despite its ruinous state, is regarded as one of the best preserved Hohenstaufen castles in Southern Germany.

The castle is rich in various mason's marks (at least 50 different ones have been found), some of which are also found on other castles of the Rhine-Main-Neckar region, e.g. Stolzeneck Castle on the River Neckar and also in the palace at Gelnhausen.

The castle is situated at the beginning of the spur ridge south-west of Preunschen. A few metres above the castle is the Fels(en)burg ('Rock Castle'), a cave hewn out of a natural, rock formation, with a rectangular stone entrance portal. The rock was hewn and the stone slabs so arranged to form a flat platform above. It may be conjectured that this was designed as a sort of outer ward to protect the spur side, but that has not been proven.

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Details

Founded: 1180-1200
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Zoltan Makai (16 months ago)
Very nice and big ruin with a remain of a huge fireplace. There is also a small playground nearby for children.
Eduardo Antunes da Cunha (3 years ago)
One of the best castle ruins to explore.
Tilman Benecke (3 years ago)
Great place in the middle of nowhere. Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote parts of "Parsival" there. Very quiet and beautiful nature.
Benedikt Kraus (3 years ago)
Worth a visit
Lukas Fuchs (4 years ago)
Very nice, old castle ruin. Easy to get to an totally worth it, with a beautiful area around it.
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