Munzenberg Castle

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Munzenberg Castle
Munzenberg Castle, southwest view

Munzenberg Castle, southwest view

Alternative name (s): Mintzenberg Castle, Minzinberg Castle, Munzenburg Castle, Wetterau inkwell
Creation time : before 1162
Castle type : Hilltop castle
Conservation status: Ruin, essential parts preserved
Standing position : Reichsministeriale, later count
Construction: Quarry stone (basalt), humpback cuboid (sandstone)
Place: Munzenberg
Geographical location 50 ° 27 '6 "  N , 8 ° 46' 33"  E Coordinates: 50 ° 27 '6 "  N , 8 ° 46' 33"  E
Height: 239  m above sea level NHN
Munzenberg Castle (Hesse)
Munzenberg Castle
Munzenberg Castle with the later castle wall,
view from the north

The Munzenberg Castle , known by name since 1162 , also known locally as the Munzenburg or Wetterau Inkwell , is the ruin of a hilltop castle at 239  m above sea level. NHN high Munzenberg south of Munzenberg in the Hessian Wetteraukreis . It is one of the most important castle complexes in Germany dating from the High Middle Ages .


The two keep of Munzenberg Castle towering high above the town can be seen from afar from the federal highways A 45 and A 5 passing by. They mark the east and west corners of the core castle built on an oval basal ridge to secure the northern Wetterau .

Map of Munzenberg Castle

Munzenberg Castle can be reached via exit 36 ​​of the same name on the A 45 east of the Gambacher Kreuz junction . A visitor parking lot is located south of the castle in the Hattsteiner Hof . From here, a footpath leads through a front gate to the actual Pfortenhaus . Another parking lot is located below the northern curtain wall .


The Arnsburg and Munzenbergers

Not far east of the coins mountain, near the former monastery Arnsburg in Lich , was built around 1000 on the initiative of the Salic ministerials Kuno the Arnsburg on a ground spur on the steep bank of the weather . 1064 married Kuno von Arnsburg, follower of Emperor Heinrich III. , Mathilde von Beilstein . Their heir daughter Gertrud von Arnsburg married Eberhard von Hagen from Dreieich . The two chose Arnsburg as their place of residence and henceforth called themselves von Hagen and Arnsburg . Her grandson Konrad II and his wife Luitgart donated the Altenburg Benedictine monastery , which belonged to the Fulda Abbey , in 1150 on the site of a former Roman fort not far from their castle . As a compensation they received the uninhabited Munzenberg from Fulda in 1151 and after 1156 they moved their headquarters to the newly built castle there. Their son Kuno I, born in 1151, was already called von Munzenberg . The new family castle was first mentioned with his name in a document from Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa in 1162 .

The expansion of the castle by Kuno I von Munzenberg from the middle of the 1150s and the associated development of the place of the same name at its feet could certainly only take place with the approval of Emperor Barbarossa and can be seen in the context of the imperial policy, which made the Wetterau a terra imperii , an imperial empire, wanted to make. Kuno I von Munzenberg, as royal chamberlain, repeatedly accompanied Emperor Barbarossa on his trips to Italy and was often in his vicinity. His rise to become the influential ruler of the Wetterau was unstoppable. He clearly expressed his support for the Hohenstaufen dynasty in the German controversy for the throne of 1198, when he voted for Philipp von Schwaben , the brother of Emperor Heinrich VI, who had died a year earlier . , as his successor made strong.

The construction time of the Staufer components visible today is a matter of dispute in research. It is generally assumed that in the times Kuno essential parts of the curtain wall system around the main castle, the Romanesque palace , the eastern keep, gatehouse emerged with the overlying chapel and parts of the kitchen building. The Romanesque construction phase is said to have ended by 1174 at the latest without the curtain wall being completed. The hall remained unplastered, the kitchen a torso . Since Kuno I acquired important goods and rights in the Wetterau after 1170, lack of money could be the reason for the sudden end of the construction work on his castle. This is also supported by the fact that in 1174 he handed over the old ancestral castle of the von Arnsburg family near Lich to the Eberbach monastery , where the Cistercians settled. However, there is also a much later dating to the end of the 12th century, which also argues in a style-critical manner. erupting throne disputes would have prevented completion.

In 1207 Kuno I died. His only son Ulrich II von Munzenberg remained childless, so that with his death in 1255 the male line of the Reichsministeriale von Munzenberg died out.

The Falkensteiner

Munzenberg coat of arms (approx. 1490)

Ulrich II's legacy was divided among his sisters, with Ysegarde von Munzenberg bringing the castle and the lands belonging to it into her marriage to Philipp von Falkenstein .

Around 1260, building activity began again under this new lord of the castle. The northern hall, later named after him, was built, the kitchen was completed, the curtain wall closed, the existing parts raised and finally a second keep was built in the western part of the inner castle.

In 1296 the Reichsministeriale von Falkenstein finally left Munzenberg Castle and relocated to Lich. 1418 died with the death of the Archbishop of Trier, Werner von Falkenstein , the family of those von Falkenstein from. The Lords of Solms inherited the Munzenberg Castle as well as its lands.

The Solmser

Munzenberg Castle in an engraving by Matthäus Merian around 1620

After 125 years of vacancy, there were again expansion and renovation measures to report at Munzenberg Castle around 1424. The new lord of the castle, Bernhard von Solms-Braunfels , initially had a port tower built, probably what is now known as the central gate . This was followed by the outer kennel complex with an outer bailey and the outer curtain wall with a front gate. In 1514, the Lords of Solms-Lich , whose line had split off from the Braunfelsers shortly before and now owned the Munzenberg Castle, began to renovate the Romanesque part of the castle in the contemporary late Gothic style . In addition, the tunnel leading under the castle chapel was widened to allow carriages to access the inner castle, and a large western and four smaller battery towers were added to the outer ring wall. So around 1620 Matthäus Merian drew them with Bergfrieden, which had pointed roofs. The western battery tower and the port tower are also clearly visible .

However, the expansion of Munzenberg Castle into a defensive fortress could not stop the onslaught of the Thirty Years' War . Around 1621, units of the Spanish Habsburgs were quartered at the castle , and they moved from here in 1622 to the Battle of Fleurus . Finally in 1628 soldiers of the imperial general Wallenstein shot at the castle and caused great damage. At the end of the war in 1648, Munzenberg Castle was only a ruin on the basal ridge.

Reconstruction through the Solms rule was out of the question. In the count's documents from the period after 1648 there are no more items for construction or maintenance measures at the castle. However, people who used the castle as a quarry were fined several times. The castle was falling into disrepair.

Preservation of the ruin

View of the Munzenberg from the battlements

In 1846 the restoration of individual parts of the castle and securing of the masonry began. Just a year later, the eastern keep could be climbed. However, plans were dropped that envisaged a romantic restoration of the castle. After 1894, the replacement of weathered building elements such as window pillars began. The originals removed were kept in the lapidarium . Around 1900 the south windows of the Falkensteiner building were reconstructed. In 1935 the castle finally came into the possession of the forerunner State of Hesse, the People's State of Hesse . From 1960 onwards, maintenance work was carried out on the late Gothic kitchen, for example the impressive fume cupboard was rebuilt. Even the almost encircling battlements of the main castle was made accessible again.

Excavations, which around 1960 were not carried out with a view to preserving historical monuments, since they destroyed archaeological layers, uncovered parts of the earlier roofing of the Palas, the east tower and the farm buildings of the Falkensteiner Building.

Todays use

Munzenberg Castle is part of the administration of the State Palaces and Gardens of Hesse . It is not cultivated. It is open to visitors from Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year. The entrance fee is charged when entering the outer bailey.

As part of the Munzenberg Cultural Summer , which takes place every year in June, the association Freundeskreis Burg & Stadt Munzenberg stages theater performances on the open-air stage of the main castle. In 1971 the castle served as the location for the film " Love is just a word ".

An application for a permit for four 200-meter-high wind turbines in the neighboring town of Wohnbach 3.5 kilometers away was rejected in May 2017. a. as the appearance of the cultural monument in the landscape would be impaired by wind turbines.

A regular medieval market has been held at Munzenberg Castle since 2002. After the event initially took place at the castle, it is now only used as a backdrop for the event for safety reasons. Medieval full contact battles ( Buhurt ) have been taking place here since 2012 . The prize is a "Munzenberg Eagle".


Munzenberg Castle; Outer bailey with central gate

For the construction of the castle complex, mainly red and yellow sandstone, which was extracted in the quarries near Rockenberg four kilometers away , and columnar basalt, which the castle hill itself held ready, were used. All the humpback blocks and gemstones were made from the sandstone, and durable masonry was made from the broken basalt.

Outer bailey and kennel

Through the lower gate of the gates house in which at the present time, the cash register and a modern toilet facility are located, leads to the forecastle , which surrounds together with the southern and the northern kennel core castle. Zwinger and outer bailey date from the 15th century and, with their circular and transverse walls, are purely functional buildings without any special architectural decorations. They were supposed to stop enemy attackers and thereby make them more vulnerable.

The middle gate , which divides the outer bailey into two roughly equal halves, is more decorative . Above the pointed arch Tordurchlass one on consoles resting Fries with ten small round arches, it in turn two rectangular observation window, which probably referred to in documents but no more existing port tower belonged. The entrance to the main castle leads through the middle gate to the upper gate , which allows access to the inner courtyard under the castle chapel.

Munzenberg Castle; Battery tower of the Vorwerk
Munzenberg Castle; late Gothic front gate in the deer garden


At the interface between the south and north kennels in the west of the outer ring wall is the round, open-top battery tower inserted around 1500. It was used to accommodate a heavy artillery piece and represents the last structural adaptation of the castle to the advancing war technology of the time. The shell towers embedded in the outer ring wall are also counted among the fortifications of the Vorwerk . They already have loopholes for firearms and protected the flatter northern flank of the castle and its entrance area.

Another protective wall in front of the southern outer ring wall with a late Gothic entrance gate , which, in addition to direct access to the castle from the city, enables access from the uninhabited land side and the Hattsteiner Hof at the foot of the Munzenberg, also belongs to the Vorwerk . Only fragments are left of the wall, which also partially shielded the deer garden, while the gate in the Gothic pointed arch has been preserved.

Core castle

The inner courtyard of the main castle can only be reached through the upper gate from the outer castle. This passage with a barrel vault leads diagonally upwards under the mighty curtain wall and the castle chapel. The curtain wall, the structure of which can be clearly seen here, initially consists of an approximately three meter high base made of broken basalt and up to ten rows of 40 to 65 centimeter high sandstone hump blocks with a uniform two centimeter wide, surrounding edge fitting. The roughly hewn humps that protrude up to 30 centimeters in front of the edge fittings reinforce the defensive impression, as do the attached battlements , which, however, were walled up with basalt stones when the curtain wall was raised by the Falkensteiners. A protruding section of the wall above the archway is striking. It emphasizes the choir of the gate chapel and was the only visual indication of its existence until it was raised by a secular floor in the 13th century.

If you enter the wide-opening inner courtyard, the two keep dominating the entire complex rise to the right and left, and the remains of the Falkensteiner buildings on the circular wall opposite the archway. To the right of the gate chapel is the Staufer Palas, to the left is the business section called the kitchen with its towering chimney.

Munzenberg Castle; Staufer hall and east tower
Munzenberg Castle; Window in the Staufer Palas

Munzenberger Palas

The Munzenberger Palas, which dates back to the time the castle was originally built, consists of an eastern and a western part. If the latter can only be recognized by a few foundation walls and the protruding rear wall on the valley side, the eastern component is well preserved. The courtyard and valley front form a former three-storey hall building . In each case on the upper floor there are impressive eight- or two- and four-arched arcade windows with rich decorations. The first floor has two, previously three, double arcade windows on the courtyard side. Both upper floors were originally connected to each other by an external, wooden staircase and could be entered through cloverleaf arch portals. The portal on the first floor has been completely preserved, that of the second only as a fragment.

Inside the hall, the two elaborately crafted consoles of the original fireplace on the upper floor are striking . Similar ones were on the same level in the neighboring eastern component. These two rooms were the only ones that could be heated. The halls above with the broad rows of arcade windows, which were not made to lock, could only be used in summer.

To the east of the gate chapel is the spacious, unadorned kitchen , the remains of which, especially the towering chimney, suggest that it was used as a kitchen. However, this has not been proven. From here, a modern staircase leads to the eastern keep. Between the kitchen and the gate chapel there is a stairway through which you can reach the parapet walk around the building.

Falkensteiner building

Munzenberg Castle; Falkensteinbau

The palace, built under Philipp von Falkenstein in 1260, extends to the city side along the northern curtain wall. The rear and western gable walls have been preserved , while only fragments of the courtyard facade and the eastern gable wall remain. On the inside of the windowless western gable wall there are two open chimneys with a common chimney . A small part of the courtyard side with two double arcade windows was reconstructed around 1900 and does not necessarily represent the earlier view. In contrast, the richly structured rear front is in its original condition. The row of windows on the upper floor is particularly elaborate. Three triple arcade windows form a closed row, with the middle one of the pointed arch windows protruding from its neighbors by a third. The row of arcades is flanked on the right by a simple, significantly smaller pointed arch window and on the left by an ornate double arcade window.

A flat, inaccessible vaulted staircase leads under the former courtyard facade into the basement of the Falkensteiner building.


Munzenberg Castle; Inner courtyard of the main castle with western keep
Eastern keep, Alte Linde and Palas from the west
Old linden tree

The eastern keep, erected in the first construction phase between 1151 and 1156, was originally lower than it is today. Around 1260 it was raised by another storey and provided with a pointed roof, which, however, did not survive the Thirty Years War. The high entrance is at a height of 8.5 meters. Today it can be reached via sandstone stairs along the wall adjoining the castle courtyard and from there via a metal staircase leading up to the tower. The wall thickness on the entrance level is 3.4 meters. It decreases in three steps towards the top. The tower, which is around 30 meters high up to the parapet, has an outside diameter of 11.5 meters and an inside diameter of 5.20 meters in the door area. Inside, a freestanding staircase made of oak leads up a total of 98 steps and several ledges to the approximately 29-meter-high viewing platform . The staircase is protected from the weather by a three meter high, octagonal glass pyramid placed above the platform. The metal staircase to the eastern keep has been renovated since September 4, 2019, and the tower access is therefore blocked. The work should take 4 to 6 weeks.

Eastern keep and linden tree
Eastern keep, in the foreground the old linden tree (2019)

The western keep, built around 1260, has a high entrance about ten meters high, but is not open to the public. The cylindrical , slightly tapering tower, like the east tower, was later raised and also given a pointed roof, but probably not until around 1500.

References and comments

  1. Map services of the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation ( information )
  2. Bettina Jost, The Reichsministerialen von Münzenberg as builders in the Wetterau in the 12th century , Cologne 1995
  3. Document No. 372 in Heinrich Appelt with the assistance of Rainer Maria Herkenrath and Walter Koch (eds.): Diplomata 23: The documents of Friedrich I. Part 2: 1158–1167. Hanover 1979, pp. 233-236 ( Monumenta Germaniae Historica , digitized version )
  4. ^ Hans-Otto Keunecke: The Munzenberger. Sources and studies on the emancipation of an imperial servant family. Darmstadt / Marburg 1978.
  5. ^ Bettina Jost, Munzenberg Castle Ruins - Adelsburg of the Staufer Period , Edition of the Administration of the State Palaces and Gardens of Hesse, Brochure 9, Regensburg 2000
  6. Strickhausen, Gerd: Castles of the Ludowingers in Thuringia, Hesse and the Rhineland. Studies on architecture and sovereignty in the High Middle Ages, Darmstadt and Marburg 1998.
  7. ^ Georg Moller, About the Munzenberg Castle in the Wetterau , Archive for Hessian History and Antiquity, 1836, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp. 280–283
  8. Hugh of Rietgen, history and description of Münzenberg in the Wetterau , casting 1,879
  9. ^ Bettina Jost, Munzenberg Castle Ruins - Adelsburg of the Staufer Period , Edition of the Administration of the State Palaces and Gardens of Hesse, Brochure 9, Regensburg 2000, pp. 5-8
  10. ^ Archives of the palaces, castles and forest administrations in Solms-Laubach, Laubach
  11. RP rejects wind farm in Wölfersheim-Wohnbach , Darmstadt Regional Council, press release, May 8, 2017
  12. ^ Bettina Jost, Munzenberg Castle Ruins - Adelsburg of the Staufer Age , Edition of the Administration of the State Palaces and Gardens of Hesse, Brochure 9, Regensburg 2000, pp. 9-10
  13. a b c d e Heights according to measurements taken privately
  14. Bettina Jost, Munzenberg Castle Ruins - Adelsburg of the Staufer Period , Edition of the Administration of the State Palaces and Gardens of Hesse, Brochure 9, Regensburg 2000, p. 25


  • Rudolf Adamy: Art monuments in the Grand Duchy of Hesse ... - Province of Upper Hesse, Friedberg District / Employees: (Carl Bronner), Bergstraesser, Darmstadt 1895.
  • Günther Binding : Munzenberg Castle, a Hohenstaufen castle complex, Bonn 1963.
  • Elmar Brohl : Fortresses in Hessen. Published by the German Society for Fortress Research eV, Wesel, Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2013 (=  German Fortresses  2), ISBN 978-3-7954-2534-0 , pp. 131-136.
  • German National Committee for Monument Protection (Ed.): Potentials of Castle, City and Landscape - Munzenberg in Hessen, Bonn 2015.
  • Karl Gruber and Waldemar Küther : Minzinberg - castle, town and church , Walltor, Gießen 1968.
  • Bettina Jost: Munzenberg Castle Ruins - Adelsburg Castle of the Staufer Period , Edition of the Administration of the State Palaces and Gardens of Hesse, Brochure 9, Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2000, ISBN 3-7954-1285-4 .
  • Hans Otto Keunecke: The Munzenberger - Sources and studies on the emancipation of a family of imperial servants , Darmstadt; Marburg 1978 (sources and research on Hessian history; 35).
  • Petra and Uwe Müller (eds.): Münzenberg - Home in the Shadow of the Castle, 750 Years of City Rights Munzenberg 1245–1995 , Munzenberg 1995, ISBN 3-9804269-0-4 .
  • Heinz Wionski (arrangement): Cultural monuments in Hessen - Wetteraukreis , Part 2, Theiss, Stuttgart 1999, ISBN 3-528-06227-4 .
  • Gerd Strickhausen: Castles of the Ludowingers in Thuringia, Hesse and the Rhineland. Studies on architecture and sovereignty in the High Middle Ages . Darmstadt, Marburg 1998, here pp. 258–261.

Web links

Commons : Munzenberg Castle  - Collection of images, videos and audio files