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.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.