Wartburg Castle

Schloss Wartburg

The Wartburg Castle (Schloss Wartburg) is located near Eisenach, Germany.

Wartburg Castle History

Wartburg represents the claims to power and the self-assurance of the medieval landgraves of Thuringia.

Wartburg courtyard

During 1211 and 1227, Wartburg castle was the home of St Elisabeth of Hungary, wife of the Landgrave Ludwig IV. In 1262 the castle passed to the House of Wettin, and it belonged to the Electors of Saxony from 1423 to 1547. Martin Luther lived there from 1521 to 1522, translating the New Testament into German. In 1741 the castle came into the ownership of the Dukes of Saxe-Weimar and became a symbol of German history and culture, inspiring the work of Goethe, Liszt, and Wagner. The Wartburgfest of German student fraternities took place there in 1817.

Founded by Ludwig der Springer, the Wartburg Castle is first mentioned in 1080. Ludwig III (1172–1190) built the Landgrave’s House and the residential quarters of the castle. In 1317 or 1318 a fire seriously damaged the keep, the Landgrave’s House and Heated Chamber. The chapel was built on the first floor of the Landgrave’s House in 1320. Between 1450 and 1500 defensive passages were built on the surrounding walls, and all the buildings were plastered. Much building activity is recorded between 1549 and 1630, but in the 17th and 18th centuries, buildings fell into ruin and were demolished.

Wartburg inside

Schloss Wartburg was renovated between 1838 and 1890 by Grand Duke Charles Alexander of Saxe-Weimar (1853–1901); Moritz von Schwind decorated the residence with frescoes of the legendary song contest, depicting episodes from the history of the Thuringian landgraves and scenes from the life of St Elisabeth. Between 1902 and 1906 the Elisabeth Chamber was decorated with mosaics. The castle was extensively restored from 1952 to 1966 and became a national monument.

The castle, built on a hill, the Wartberg, was designed to control the royal road between Frankfurt am Main and Breslau (now Wrocław, Poland). It is built of sandstone and tufa, on a 140 m-long plateau. Its inner and outer baileys are separated by a ditch. The outer bailey is approached from an earthwork, across a drawbridge, and through a gatehouse in the old north tower. It is bounded to the east by the curtain wall with its defensive passage, the Elisabeth Gallery.

Wartburg minstrel's hall

Adjoining the gatehouse on the west are the Knight’s House, the Governor’s House (containing the Luther Room and the Nuremberg Oriel window added in 1872), the Margarethe Gallery, and the Heated Chamber. A gatehouse between the Heated Chamber and the New Chamber separates the outer bailey from the inner bailey. On the east side of the inner bailey are the New Chamber and the keep (built-in 1859 to replace the one demolished in 1790), the new staircase, the Landgrave’s House, and the Knights’ Bath. On the west side stands the Gadem(hut), which once served as stables, arsenal, and brewhouse. In between is the well. The southern end is protected by the south tower.

Wartburg Mosaic

The earliest building in the enclosure was a dwelling between the north and south towers. Soon afterward a keep was added, to form a three-towered castle. Remains of the earliest buildings are preserved in cellars below the Governor’s House, the New Chamber, and the Gadem; the bear cage beneath the Knights’ Bath can still be identified. The nucleus of the castle is the Landgrave’s House, to which the Landgrave Hermann I (1190–1217) added a third story.

The ground plan is rectangular, with halls and square corner rooms. The groin vaults of the Elisabeth Chamber and of the Knights’ Hall on the ground-floor rest on central supports; the dining hall between them has a massive beamed ceiling. Between the Knights’ Hall and the dining hall, a barrel-vaulted staircase leads to the first floor on which are the Landgrave’s Room (originally the audience hall), the Singers’ Hall, and the chapel. On the second floor is the Feast or Banqueting Hall.

Wartburg dining hall

The architectural ornament is of very high quality and is of Lower Rhenish origin, having parallels with the double chapel at Schwarzrheindorf near Bonn (third quarter of the 12th century). The side facing the courtyard, with arcaded galleries in the center, is the show façade.

The ground floor has three pairs of double arches; the first floor has three groups of five smaller arches on paired colonnettes, while the third story has four quadruple arcades with two twin round-arched arcades to the south. Between the two upper stories a round-arched frieze marks the cornice of Ludwig’s building; the latter cornice above is copied from it.

Wartburg Castle – Visitor Info

The Wartburg Castle is open for visitors daily. The castle gate closes at 20,00 during summer time (April to October) and during the winter time (November to March) at 17,00.

English Guided Tours are also available in English, daily at 13,30.

Contact details:
Tel: (+49) 36 91/25 00
Fax: (+49) 36 91/20 33 42
Email: info@wartburg.de
Official page: wartburg-eisenach.de

Schloss Wartburg Location

Wartburg Castle Address: Auf der Wartburg 1, 99817 Eisenach, Germany. Get help with directions using this map:

Schloss Wartburg Map

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