Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle (German: "Burg Hohenzollern") is a castle, about 50 km south of Stuttgart, Germany, considered home to the Hohenzollern family that came to power during the Middle Ages and ruled Prussia and Brandenburg until the end of World War I.

The castle is located on top of Mount Hohenzollern at an elevation of 855 meters, above Hechingen in the Swabian Alb. It was originally constructed in the first part of the 11th century. It was completely destroyed after a 10-month siege in 1423 by the imperial cities of Swabia.

A second, larger and sturdier castle was constructed from 1454 to 1461 and served as a refuge for the Swabian Hohenzollern family during wartime, including during the Thirty Years' War. By the end of the 18th century, however, the castle was thought to have lost its strategic importance and gradually fell into disrepair, leading to the demolition of several dilapidated buildings. Today, only the chapel remains from the medieval castle.

The third version of the castle, which stands today, was constructed by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV between 1846 and 1867, under the direction of Oberhofbaurat Stühler, who based his design on English Neo-Gothic style as well as the castles in Loire. [Herbert Gers. "Hohenzollern Castle". 5th ed. Hechingen: Administration of Hohenzollern Castle, 1984.] Because the castle was built to be merely a family memorial, no member of the Hohenzollern family took residence in this third castle until 1945, when it became home to the last Prussian Crown Prince Wilhelm. Prince Wilhelm and his wife Crown Princess Cecilie are buried there.

Among the historical artifacts of Prussian history contained in the castle today are the Crown of Wilhelm II and some of the personal effects of Frederick the Great and a letter from US President George Washington thanking Baron von Steuben, a scion of the House of Hohenzollern, for his service in the American Revolutionary War. The castle is today a popular tourist destination.


The castle is located on top of an 855 m (2805 ft) above sea level isolated mountain known as Mount Hohenzollern. Among the locals this mountains is often known as "Zollerberg" (Zollern Mountain) or simply as "Zoller". Located near the end of the Swabian Alb region, the mountain lends its name to the local geographic region, the "Zollernalb".


The first castle

The first Medieval castle of the House of Hohenzollern was mentioned for the first time in 1267. However the castle appears to date back to the 11th Century. In 1423 the castle was besieged from over a year by troops from the Swabian Free Imperial Cities. On May 15, 1423 the castle was finally taken and totally destroyed. Of the first castle only written records still exist.

The second castle

In 1454 construction on the second castle began. While this castle was much stronger than the first, during the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) it was captured by Württemberg troops in 1634. Following the Thirty Years' War the castle was under Habsburg control for about a century. During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-1748) the castle was occupied by French soldiers during the Winter of 1744/45. Following the war, the Habsburgs continued to own the castle, but it was rarely occupied. When the last Austrian owner left the castle in 1798 it began to totally fall to ruins. By the beginning of the 19th Century the castle was a ruin, with only the Chapel of St. Michael remaining usable.

The third castle

The castle was rebuilt by Crown-Prince (and later King) Frederick William IV of Prussia. In 1819 during a trip to Italy, he travelled through southern Germany. During the trip, he wished to learn about his family's roots and climbed to the top of Mount Hohenzollern ["Kennzeichen BL" Heimatkunde für den Zollernalbkreis; Herausgeber:Waldemar Lutz, Jürgen Nebel und Hansjörh Noe; Lörrach, Stuttgart, 1987 ISBN 3-12-258310-0; S.121/2] .

The current castle is the work of the famous Berlin Architect Friedrich August Stüler, who in 1842 while still the student and heir of Karl Friedrich Schinkel was appointed the Architect of the King. The castle is built in the Gothic Revival style. The impressive entryway is the work of the Engineer-Officer Moritz Karl Ernst von Prittwitz who was considered the leading fortifications engineer in Prussia. The sculptures around and inside the castle are the work of Gustav Willgohs. The Hohenzollern Castle is a monument to the ideals of the German Romanticism movement and incorporated the idealized vision of what a medieval knight's castle should be. In this way Hohenzollern Castle is similar to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, though without the fantastic elements that cover Neuswanstein. The castle also served to enhance the reputation of the Prussian Royal Family, by rebuilding the ancestral castle in such an ornate form.

Construction began in 1850, and was funded entirely by the Brandenburg-Prussian and the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen lines of the Hohenzollern family. Seventeen years later construction was completed on October 3, 1867 under William IV's brother King William I. The castle was damaged in an earthquake on September 3, 1978 and was under repair until the mid-1990's.


After the castle was rebuilt, it was not regularly occupied, rather it was used mostly as a show castle. Only the last Prussian Crown Prince William lived in the castle for several months, following his flight from Potsdam during the closing months of World War II. William and his wife Crown Princess Cecilie are both buried at the castle, as the family's estates in Brandenburg had been occupied by the Soviet Union.

Since 1952 the castle has been filled with art and historical artifacts, from the collection of the Hohenzollern family and from the former Hollenzollern Museum in Schloss Monbijou. Two of the major pieces in the collection are the Prussian King's Crown and a uniform the belonged to Frederick the Great. From 1952 until 1991 the caskets of Frederick I and Frederick the Great were in the museum. Following the German reunification in 1991, the caskets were moved back to Potsdam.

Hohenzollern castle is still privately owned. Two thirds of the castle belongs to the Brandenburg-Prussian line of the Hohenzollern, while one third is owned by the Swabian line of the family. Since 1954 the castle has also been used by the Princess Kira of Prussia Foundation to provide a summer camp for needy children from Berlin. Hohenzollern castle has over 300,000 visitors per year, making it one of the most visited castles in Germany ["Des Prinzen neue Töne". In: Stuttgarter Nachrichten, 10. Mai 2003de_icon] .

ee also

*List of castles in Baden-Württemberg

External links

* [http://www.burg-hohenzollern.de/ Homepage of the Castle]
* [http://www.burg-hohenzollern.info/ History and Pictures]
* [http://www.zollerblick.de/ Life in the Castle]
* [http://www.hzl-museum.de/ Hohenzollerisches Landesmuseum in Hechingen]
* [http://www.preussen.de/de/heute/burg_hohenzollern.html Official site for Burg Hohenzollern]
* [http://www.safaribears.de/content.php?page=SlideshowHohenzollern&


* Rolf Bothe: "Burg Hohenzollern. Von der mittelalterlichen Burg zum nationaldynastischen Denkmal im 19. Jahrhundert". Berlin 1979, ISBN 3786111480
* Ulrich Feldhahn (Hg.): "Beschreibung und Geschichte der Burg Hohenzollern." Berlin Story Verlag, Berlin, 1.Auflage 2006, ISBN 3-929829-55-X
* Patrick Glückler: " Burg Hohenzollern. Kronjuwel der Schwäbischen Alb". Hechingen 2002; 127 Seiten; ISBN 3925012346
* Rudolf Graf von Stillfried-Alcantara: "Beschreibung und Geschichte der Burg Hohenzollern". Nachdruck der Ausgabe von 1870. Berlin Story Verlag, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-929829-55-X
* Friedrich Hossfeld und Hans Vogel: "Die Kunstdenkmäler Hohenzollerns, erster Band: Kreis Hechingen". Holzinger, Hechingen 1939, S. 211 ff.

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