Schwarzburg Castle is a baroque castle complex in the municipality of Saalfeld-Rudolstadt, about 65 km southeast of the Thuringian Capital Erfurt. Built from the Northwest into the Valley of the Schwarza and steeply sloping on three sides, the former ancestral home of the Counts and later Princes of Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt dominates the Region. As a result of large-scale demolition work between 1940 and 1942 and the following decades of neglect, only a few buildings remained, including the ruins of the main Building, the Zeughaus and the Imperial Hall, which is open to the public.
At present, Schloss Schwarzburg is being renovated with a lot of effort (as of 2012).
When the first fortification was built on the site of the later Castle cannot be determined precisely due to a lack of sources. The first tangible reference to the name “Swartzinburg” can be found in a Document of Archbishop Anno II of Cologne, which probably dates back to the Year 1071. Whether this name already refers to a forerunner of the medieval Castle complex, however, is doubted by researchers. It is mentioned in a document of the Archbishop of Mainz in 1123 as a witness and titled “Count of Schwarzburg.”
After the Death of Prince Günther Victor In 1925, his widow Anna Luise continued to live in Schwarzburg Castle. This Right of residence was not curtailed at first even with the seizure of power by the National Socialists in 1933. After the Capture of the Belgian King Leopold III by German Soldiers in 1940, however, it was decided to interdone it at Schwarzburg Castle. Shortly thereafter, however, it was decided to transform the complex into an “Imperial Guesthouse.” Anna Luise had to leave the Castle in exchange for financial Compensation within a few Days.
Under the direction of the Architect Hermann Giesler, a complete redesign of the entire plant was planned. To this end, most of the buildings were demolished, and new buildings were to be built in their place. Only the completely gutted main building, the church tower, the Imperial Hall building and the Witness House were preserved. The constant war-related deduction of labor slowed construction work. The classification of the project as a “primarily war-important measure” could not change this either. Finally, on 17 April 1942, on the orders of Reich Minister Albert Speer, construction was stopped for the time being, probably also because of the enormous costs. After final safeguards, the buildings remained in their ruinous State.
There were also different Ideas about later use. They ranged from a recreation home for union members to a hotel with a restaurant and cultural center to a spa complex of the SED party leadership in the 1970S. All these projects did not go beyond the planning phase due to a lack of money. On New Year’s Eve 1980, another fire, triggered by a fireworks rocket, destroyed the surviving baroque hood of the Castle Church tower.
As a result of the political turnaround of 1989/90, ideas for the future use of the Castle Area arose again. Looking at the tourist-interesting location in the Black Valley, there were again various suggestions from private investors for hotels or for a spa clinic.
In 1994, the property rights to Schwarzburg Castle were transferred to the newly founded Thuringian Castles and Gardens Foundation. This initially implemented urgent maintenance work on the main building.
The last usage concepts for the entire plant date back to 2001. These projects also favored use as a recreation Or event center as well as a museum. The existing building fabric should be renovated and supplemented by new buildings, some in a modern style. But, like all previous plans, these failed because of a lack of Money.
In 2007, renovation work began through initial financing of the “Schloss Schwarzburg Association” on the building at the northern end of the complex. This building is the only surviving, freestanding “Witness House” in Germany, the original furnishings of which are largely reconstructable. The aim was to repatriate and exhibit the weapons collection of the Schwarzburg Princes, which was initially located at Heidecksburg Castle in Rudolstadt. The Refurbishment of the “Witness House” has been completed and since May 2018 the weapons collection can be visited there again. Since 2011, with federal funding, extensive stock security has taken place at the main castle building, which was heavily destroyed between 1940 and 1942 and further derelict in the following decades. The roof and the mid-risalite, equally statically relevant parts of the construction, have already been renovated.
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Schwarzburg Castle 1890
Schwarzburg Castle 1930s
Schwarzburg Castle 1990
The Interior of the “Witness House” around 1900
Imperial Hall (2011)
Other Castles in Thuringia:
More to come.