The Wartburg Castle (Schloss Wartburg) is located near
Wartburg Castle History
Wartburg represents the claims to power and the
self-assurance of the medieval landgraves of Thuringia.
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
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.
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.
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.
The earliest building in the enclosure was a dwelling between the north and
south towers. Soon afterwards 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
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.
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 centre, is the
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 storey has four quadruple
arcades with two twin round-arched arcades to the south. Between the two upper storeys a
round-arched frieze marks the cornice of Ludwig’s building; the later cornice above is copied
Wartburg Castle - Visitor Info
The Wartburg Castle is open for visit daily. The castle gate closes
at 20,00 during summer time (April to October) and during the winter times (November to
March) at 17,00.
English Guided Tours are also available in english, daily at 13,30.
Tel: (+49) 36 91/25 00
Fax: (+49) 36 91/20 33 42
Official page: wartburg-eisenach.de
Wartburg Castle Address: Auf der Wartburg 1, 99817 Eisenach, Germany. Get help with
directions using this map:
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