Wildenstein Castle (Leibertingen)

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Wildenstein Castle
The castle seen from the Bandfelsen

The castle seen from the Bandfelsen

Creation time : around 1200 to 1300
Castle type : Höhenburg, spur location
Conservation status: Received or received in substantial parts
Standing position : Barons, counts (1538), princes (1667)
Construction: Humpback cuboid, small cuboid
Place: Leibertingen
Geographical location 48 ° 3 '20 "  N , 9 ° 0' 2.5"  E Coordinates: 48 ° 3 '20 "  N , 9 ° 0' 2.5"  E.
Height: 810  m above sea level NN
Wildenstein Castle (Baden-Württemberg)
Wildenstein Castle

The Wildenstein Castle above the Danube breakthrough by the Swabian Alb in the field of community Leibertingen ( district Sigmaringen ). The state of construction of the Spornburg still corresponds today, especially in the outdoor area, almost unchanged to the state of 1554, after the completion of the conversion into an early modern fortress initiated by Gottfried Werner von Zimmer in 1514 . Both the main castle and the outer castle stand on artificially sloped rocks and are only accessible via bridges. The 20-meter-long and originally 20-meter-deep neck moat , which extends over the entire width of the castle, has already impressed visitors to the castle in the past, as the famous engraving by Matthew Merian shows. Inside, the castle has extensive Renaissance wall paintings with flower tendrils and bird motifs dating from 1538 to 1540 . A cycle of images reproduces the entire Sigenot saga .

The Baden-Württemberg Monument Foundation named the castle Monument of the Month for April 2016 .


View from the Danube valley with the location of the previous castles

The Spornburg, which is one of the best-preserved and best-known castles in Germany, stands a few kilometers downstream from Beuron on a steeply sloping rock at 810  m above sea level. NN visible from afar, a good 200 meters above the Danube .


The documentary mention of the castle in 1077 as the boundary of the monastery property is based on a forgery by the monastery chronicler. The evaluation of ceramic finds showed that Wildenstein Castle was not built until the 13th century. It followed the former smaller rock castles Altwildenstein , Unterwildenstein , Wildensteiner Burg Hexenturm and Wildensteiner Hahnenkamm Castle in the vicinity.

In connection with a siege by the Werdenbergs , there is a report of a "monkey's tower" that must have been near the castle. It is unclear whether this is an old name for one of the castles mentioned above.

Copper engraving by Matthäus Merian from 1643. The profile of the trenches is extremely overdrawn, but reflects the impression that these must have had on contemporaries.

The current state of construction of the castle, hardly changed since the renovation by Gottfried Werner von Zimmer, as well as the extensive information about history and everyday life, which the Zimmer Chronicle reproduces on over 1500 pages, lead to the current perception of the castle as the castle of the Lords of Zimmer. The historical representation of the work of this family, originally from the upper Neckar valley, is correspondingly broad in scope in the history of the castle. But the prehistory of the castle and the subsequent period in the possession of the Fürstenberg family should also be honored here.

The prehistory of the castle

The castle at its current location was built in the 13th century as the successor to a chain of castles built by the Lords of Wildenstein, which consisted of four castles (all between 1100 and 1200). The construction was probably related to the transfer of ownership to Anselm von Justingen after 1263. He was the son or possibly grandson of Anselm von Justingen, who accompanied Friedrich II from Italy to Germany after his king's election. After Anselm fell out with the king and supported the latter in the dispute between Friedrich II and his son Heinrich VII , he fell out of favor, his ancestral castle Justingen was razed and the family lost its importance. The Lords of Justingen-Wildenstein were mentioned for the last time in 1317.

In 1319 the castle came to Rudolf von Ramsberg . But even this sex was not granted a long lifespan. Around 1390 Burkhard von Lichtenstein and Wilhelm Schenck von Stauffenberg became co-owners of the castle. The latter, however, had to hand over the castle as a ransom to the later King Ruprecht of the Palatinate as early as 1395 after a lost armed conflict.

The carpenter's time

From King Ruprecht I, John the Elder of Zimmer , known as the Lapp, received half of the castle as a man fief in 1397/98 , the other half for administration. In 1415 he got the whole castle from Count Palatine Ludwig im Bart "out of special grace". In 1462 the entire castle was handed over to Johann Werner the Elder of Zimmer “for free and undisturbed enjoyment for himself and his heirs”.

From 1441 the castle was expanded from the rooms under Werner the Younger (circa 1423-1483). According to the Zimmerischer Chronik , he spent 20,000 guilders on the expansion. In order to secure the annual maintenance amounting to 120 guilders, he bought a valid for 3000 guilders in the city of Überlingen . The construction of the cistern in the castle courtyard also fell into the time of Werner the Younger . Initially, this could not be sealed because the water repeatedly found crevices and crevices in the karst subsoil. The Zimmerische Chronik reports that Werner solved the problem by asking a magic crystal for advice and telling the foremen the solution he had found.

Johannes Werner von Zimmer the Elder

In the course of Werdenberg feud , during 1488 over the older John Werner the imperial ban was issued, this first was at night secretly room rule charters, the silverware, the best household and what else was available in valuable movable property, tuck into barrels and chests and drive from his residence in Meßkirch to the Wildenstein. When the Werdenbergers took more and more parts of the Zimmer property and a Werdenberg attempt to seize the castle through betrayal failed, the castle was sold to Count Andreas von Sonnenberg for 4,000 guilders in 1491 with a right of return that was also binding on the heirs. Only the brother Gottfried (1425–1508) with the estates in front of the forest and castle Herrenzimmern was not affected by these developments.

The imperial ban against Johannes Werner the Elder was lifted. He died in 1495. Most of the room property was still in the hands of the Werdenbergers. In 1497 Gottfried von Zimmer is said to have bought back the castle from Andreas von Sonnenberg at the request of his nephew Veit Werner von Zimmer, who pushed for the return of the family property after his father's death. This had retained the above-mentioned validity until the income from this had covered its accrued costs. At this time, the castle must have been bequeathed by Gottfried to his nephews before the court in Rottweil.

With the support of Andreas von Sonnenberg, the brothers Albrecht and Eberhart von Klingenberg as well as many other southern German aristocrats and with Wildenstein Castle as a base, Johannes Werner the Younger succeeded - his older brother Veit Werner had died in 1499 - 1503 Messkirch and the lordship of Zimmer recaptured by the Werdenbergers.

The return of the castle to carpentry ownership was connected with a few legalistic stumbling blocks. When the inheritance of Johannes Werner the Elder was divided up after regaining power and after the death of uncle Gottfried, Wildenstein Castle initially fell into the joint ownership of the brothers Johannes Werner and Gottfried Werner von Zimmer in the inheritance contract of 1508 . The Klingenberg brothers raised a claim to the castle, as their mother and Gottfried's mother were sisters and they are therefore one degree closer to the inheritance than the Zimmer brothers. After an arbitration proceeding under the direction of Count Heinrich von Lupfen, captain of the Sankt Jörgenschild company and Jos von Reischach zu Ach, the Klingenberg brothers abandoned their inheritance claims and were compensated with 200 guilders and a horse for their support in reclaiming the property.

On May 12, 1511, Felix von Werdenberg murdered the aforementioned Andreas von Sonnenberg. The motive for the murder was that Andreas von Sonnenberg had insulted Felix von Werdenberg because of his small stature at the wedding of Duke Ulrich von Württemberg. Wildenstein Castle came into play when Johannes Werner von Zimmer gave shelter at the castle to the member of the von Werdenberg family, who had just been hostile and who had come from their possessions in Brabant for this murder . So he didn't have to stay in Sigmaringen Castle , his family's ancestral castle. From Wildenstein he was able to secretly scout out the movements of Andreas von Sonnenberg, who had been one of the biggest supporters of the rooms in the reconquest of their property, and from there on the morning of May 12th to start his act. The chronicle does not offer a motive for this, from today's perspective, irrational change of attitude by Johannes Werner.

Gottfried Werner von Zimmer

Gottfried Werner von Zimmer, the younger brother of Johannes Werner, now brought the castle into his sole possession. The exchange of the rulers Falkenstein for Messkirch as well as the sweep-like sole possession of the castle by Gottfried Werner can be explained by the uncertain position that Johannes Werner, as a helper and possible confidante of the crime, assumed in the subsequent investigation into the murder. The chronicle explains the exchange with the increase in rank of Gottfried after his advantageous marriage to Apollonia von Henneberg in the same year. After the outer bailey burned down in 1512 and the brothers could not agree on the reconstruction, in 1513 Gottfried Werner ordered Karlin Pfeiler, the castle captain of Wildenstein, to only give him allegiance. In 1514 the division of power between the brothers was sealed again. From this point on, Gottfried Werner, who developed a passion for castle building, converted Wildenstein into a fortress, in line with the state of the art in early modern times. Although Messkirch was the royal seat, Gottfried Werner enjoyed staying on Wildenstein. He therefore had the living quarters decorated over a large area with ceilings and wall paintings containing Renaissance ornaments, but also with pictorial retellings of heroic stories popular at the time. In the open space in front of the castle he planned to found a new city, for which he had already recruited nobles whom he wanted to include in their castle rights. He rejected this plan again when he had no legitimate sons.

Froben Christoph von Zimmer

Gottfried Werner's nephew and heir, Count Froben Christoph von Zimmer (author of the Zimmerische Chronik , an outstanding source of aristocratic and folk culture in the 16th century) also worked there in addition to his residence in Meßkirch .

Apart from minor skirmishes, the castle was never the scene of major armed conflicts. In the course of the Werdenberg feud, the Werdenberg troops succeeded in overcoming the first gate by betraying the gatekeeper. However, it was possible to throw it back, so that, as mentioned, the castle could be handed over to befriended Andreas von Sonnenberg with the right to buy it back. During plague epidemics , for example in 1519, it served as an isolated shelter where even food deliveries were only made to the castle gate in order to avoid personal contact. In the Peasants' War of 1525 as well as in the Schmalkaldic War , the rooms sought refuge in Wildenstein together with their aristocratic friends, the Counts of Helfenstein , the Truchsessen von Waldburg , the Land Commandery of Altshausen , the Beuron Abbey and other nobles. The most threatening situation arose in the Princely War of 1552, when many aristocrats from the area sought protection at the castle and took their movable assets to safety there. There are said to have been well over 100,000 guilders on Wildenstein. The enemies were in Ulm and were about to make a train to Hegau and Lake Constance. Count Friedrich von Castell planned to force Gottfried Werner to hand it over with a few men. Ablach and Göggingen had already been looted and the castle crew prepared for the worst. She recognized the deficiencies in the defense preparations and found in particular that the morale of the teams was very low, as they were concerned about their families left behind. Gottfried Werner also wanted to bring his blind daughter Barbara, who was a nun in the Inzigkofen monastery, to safety in the castle, but she wanted to stay true to her vows in the monastery. Unexpectedly, however, the enemy troops withdrew to the Allgäu.

Due to its ability to defend itself, the castle repeatedly attracted the attention of various war opponents in later years. But even then, concrete disputes about the castle did not go beyond anecdotal episodes.

After the counts of Zimmer died out in 1594 with the death of Wilhelm von Zimmer, the surviving sisters sold the castle for 400,000 guilders to Count Georg von Helfenstein-Gundelfingen , the husband of the second oldest sister Apollonia (1547-1604).

The Fürstenberg castle

alliance coat of arms from the castle tavern on Wildenstein

After the Helfenstein-Gundelfingen family died out, Wildenstein came to this house in 1627 through her husband Johanna Eleonoras, Freiin zu Gundelfingen, Wildenstein and Meßkirch, Count Wratislaus I von Fürstenberg . In 1639, after the Peace of Prague , the Thirty Years' War had turned into an open war between France and the imperial estates, Wratislaus von Fürstenberg approached the imperial court with a request for 8,000-10,000 guilders to increase the garrison of the fortress enable. Since this money did not materialize, Wildenstein was only manned by four musketeers under the command of Jacob Bürklin. On Sunday, August 10, 1642, he and three of the musketeers went to a festival in Messkirch. The remaining musketeer was attacked by Hohentwiel troops smoking a pipe and lying in the sun in front of the castle . One of the women at the castle still managed to close the gates, but the other women prevented her from using armed force against the conquerors who only entered individually through an embrasure. It seems to have been betrayal because Bürklin and the other three musketeers fled. Bavarian troops advanced, but the assaults were successfully repulsed with losses for the attackers. But when a siege was initiated and the new castle garrison was not sure when supplies and relief could be expected, an honorable surrender was agreed. On September 4, 1642 the fortress was in the hands of Bavarian troops under Lieutenant Colonel von Marmont. Wildenstein remained in Bavarian hands until 1649.

In the War of the Palatinate Succession , the castle was once again placed under imperial occupation, and the Fürstenbergers also sought protection on Wildenstein during the War of the Spanish Succession .

After that the castle was mainly used as a prison. In 1744, the carelessness of a guard who had knocked out his tobacco pipe burned the bridge down. In 1756 lightning struck the gable of the armory, which caused great damage to the walls of the entire west wing.

When Princess Marie Antoinette traveled to France for her wedding in the spring of 1770 and stopped in Donaueschingen, the remaining guns were withdrawn from Wildenstein in order to be able to fire a salute at the reception . Obviously, there was no longer any military need to bring them back to the castle.

Postcard around 1920

The castle deteriorated more and more, and in 1802 the regional administration in Meßkirch proposed that it be demolished. In the period of mediatization, however, between the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1803 and the Rheinbund act 1806, when Fürstenberg was still fighting for its independence, the castle was renovated and repaired from 1804 to 1806 instead. In 1867 the castle chapel was renovated by the building officer Weinbrenner.

On November 16, 1911, the castle was badly damaged by an earthquake in the Albstadt shear zone . There were strong cracks in the surrounding wall and on the commandant's tower. The top of the gable and parts of the cornice broke off.

As early as 1902, a princely auxiliary forest worker was running a pub at the castle. On November 11, 1922, a lease agreement was signed with the forest warden's widow Katharina Fecker, nee Stehle, which included the establishment of an inn in addition to agriculture. The Fecker family ran this for almost 50 years until 1971. At the same time, as part of the expansion of the pilgrimages in the neighboring Beuron Abbey, a hostel was set up in the outer bailey, even then in cooperation with the Swabian branch committee of the Association for German Youth Hostels.

During the Second World War , many pictures and treasures were stored in the knight's hall, including the panel painting of the main altar of the collegiate church of St. Martin in Meßkirch ( Adoration of the Magi ) by the master of Meßkirch .

After the air raid on Freiburg in November 1944, the Faculty of Arts of the local retired University early 1945 with ten professors and 30 students of the castle, where we will pursue the teaching. Martin Heidegger , born in Meßkirch, was probably the initiator for this choice of location . The return to Freiburg was celebrated on June 24, 1945 with a farewell dinner.

On December 21, 1971, Princess Theresa von Fürstenberg sold the castle to the Swabian section of the German Youth Hostel Association for 150,000 DM .


Floor plan of the castle, from Otto Piper's Burgenkunde, p. 610

The castle represents a transition from traditional medieval castle construction to modern fortress construction . The exposed keep was torn down. On the main attack side, which, as a broad plain sloping slightly towards the castle, offered an ideal deployment area for attackers, both the outer bailey and the so-called main bastion took on the function of a kind of shield wall . Both also differed from the traditional form in that instead of building in height, they were built in width and depth. Due to this crouched shape, the most endangered side offered a small area to be attacked by artillery fire, while at the same time there was a free field of fire from the castle. The artificially carved deep trenches secured with drawbridges provided further protection, which in total made it safe from storms in the sense of the old castle construction. Such mixed forms between castle and fortress are rarely found in Europe. These changes were mainly due to Gottfried Werner vonzimmer, who again built around 40,000 guilders on the castle. As a cost comparison, Piper points to the acquisition of Falkenstein Castle with a meadow, a fishing water, three villages and a mill for 4880 guilders by Gottfried Werner.

Outer bailey

Outer gate and outer bailey

To reach the forecastle a average of 15 meters wide outer moat , the attack side of a counterscarp is backed up the same. This trench is connected to the inner section trench , so that the outer bailey is practically on a rock island. On the attack side, the outer bailey, more than 100 meters wide but barely 10 meters deep, is secured with a 74-meter-long and three-meter-thick shield wall. This has a covered battlement with a one meter thick parapet wall. The shield wall is covered on the sides by two flanking round towers, from whose mouth holes the apron, the ditch and the drawbridge could be coated with gunfire. There is no defensive wall on the side of the castle, so as not to give any intruders cover from being shot at from the main castle. The crew quarters and stables were housed in the outer bailey: the bailiff in the west tower, the guards and teams in the east tower. The interiors of the buildings were redesigned for the youth hostel. The castle gate of the outer bailey was a little lower than the edge of the outer ditch. It's located a little west of the center of the shield wall. The bridge piers towering from the outer moat indicate a drawbridge with swing rods.

Section trench and drawbridge

View from the main bastion to the bridge and outer bailey

The imposing 40 meter long section trench is located between the outer bailey and the main bailey . Completely broken out of the rock by human hands, it is 20 meters wide and today is 13 to a maximum of 16 meters deep. Originally, this inner trench was up to 10 meters deeper than it is today and tapered to a point at the bottom so as not to give attackers the opportunity to use the bottom of the trench as a base for siege machines and the like. Today a comfortable driveway leads into the trench to give suppliers the opportunity to reach the gate below the east battlements. This was installed together with a modern freight elevator to facilitate the supply of the youth hostel, otherwise, as was the case when it was used as a castle, each basket would have to be carried several hundred meters over two bridges and a narrow, sloping gate.

Section ditch between the outer bailey and the main bastion

In addition to the already impressive depth of the trench, the side walls of the outer and main castle were sloped vertically all around by an average of 25 meters, which gives the outer walls the impression of sheer immeasurable height. What impression this made on contemporaries is conveyed by the engraving by Matthäus Merian (see above), which depicted the ditch reaching down to the valley floor. Even today, the bridge is an obstacle for people with a fear of heights . Today's roofing of the rear part of the bridge is a psychological means to suppress such fear of heights due to its spatial effect. The bridge rests on a pillar built from the bottom of the trench. The drawbridge with swing rods led from this pillar made access from the outer bailey to the main castle even more difficult. For strategic reasons, this bridge was 10 meters east of the first bridge, the access to the outer bailey, in order to prevent a straight advance by attacking troops. There was not enough space for further fortifications on this pillar. Piper also expressly notes that these otherwise unheard-of proportions rather give the impression of a wide natural space between two isolated towering rocks. This construction technique of abrading the rock walls deeply vertically and building up the masonry directly on this artificially created rock edge led to criticism and skepticism even then. It was hard to imagine that the frequent and unexpected landslides would not lead to a collapse soon

Main bastion

View through the castle gate
Main bastion with castle gate

The main bastion was the main defense of the castle. Not only could the bridge immediately in front of it and the interior of the bailey be secured from it; Paint the apron of the castle with artillery fire. The main bastion, like another shield wall, protected the buildings behind it on the mountain spur, palas and castle chapel as well as the castle courtyard with the cistern. The dimensions go far beyond those of a normal shield wall. The ground plan resembles an irregular oval up to 40 meters long and 20-25 meters wide. The grown rock was abraded vertically on the three outer sides, where it receded from this vertical inward, the masonry was placed vertically upwards and solidly backed behind it. The lower casemates have wall thicknesses of almost 5½ meters and even on the upper floor they are 3.70 meters. In the eastern part, where it is assumed that the original rock reached higher, there is no basement and no casemates in the entrance area, the main bastion is a solid wall almost 25 meters thick. The bastion is measured from the height of the entrance upwards , only from two floors, which are provided with cannon loopholes. A few storage and utility rooms are accessible from the castle courtyard in the western part of the bastion. The castle gate leads right through this building. It can be locked at the entrance and exit as well as in the middle through strong doors. Since the stables were in the outer bailey and it was certainly not planned to ride into the castle courtyard, the gate passage is narrowly dimensioned and provided with an offset. On the one hand, this made it impossible for a cannon to penetrate, and on the other hand, it made it difficult to use ram beams against the middle door. In addition, the attackers could still be fought effectively through a large casting opening above the kink area.

Old, fantastically decorated representation of the castle

In the so-called Commander tower in the western part of the main bastion are still parts of a medieval tower, possibly the aborted by Gottfried Werner the keep . His office is said to have been on the upper floor, later it was the eponymous commandant's office. There are still some wall and ceiling paintings here. After the castle was sold to the youth hostel, some of the ceiling paintings were brought to Werenwag Castle . The rooms are now used as bedrooms and lounges for the youth hostel.

Parade room with open roof construction

The so-called parade room takes up most of the top floor. Without a roof, this space is conceivable as an open gun emplacement. While all loopholes in the castle were at most suitable for hook rifles and falconettes (which, according to Günter Schmitt, has also been documented for Wildenstein), far-reaching, large-caliber artillery could be stationed there (without a roof). An argument in favor of an open stationing is that the powder vapor in closed casemates would have made long-term use more difficult. The open roof structure , which was supported by skids , is said to have been easy to knock off in the event of a war. The floor construction with large limestone slabs, a slight slope and a water drainage channel also indicates that the lack of a roof was included in the planning. Piper points out, however, that removing a roof in the case of a defense in general and at Burg Wildenstein in particular was probably not very practical. An easily removable roof structure would not have withstood a major storm in exposed castle complexes, and in addition, the warning time in times of war would hardly have been sufficient for proper dismantling. On the other hand, the expected effort of rebuilding after an unnecessary dismantling would have prevented such an approach in advance. The current roof structure, which has been in existence for centuries, belies Piper with regard to the lack of storm resistance, but the arguments regarding the effort are certainly valid. Even the chronicle does not report a roof demolition during the war-related retreats to the castle. In Piper's time there was a barely recognizable mural in the commandant's apartment showing the bastion without a roof. Such images, however, are not reliable sources (see, for example, Merian's exaggerated representation of the castle complex). Piper blames the contradictions described here on the inclination of Gottfried Werner as a builder, "what he gave a jar ufgericht and erbawen, if he liked the following jar nit, he broke off again and did it in a different manner".

The so-called dungeon

In the wall of the so-called parade room facing the courtyard there is a square hole with a side length of 40 by 60 cm and a depth of 70 cm. It is the mouth of a 4-5 meter deep and 2.6-3.3 meter wide windowless room, which is now called the dungeon . Otto Piper admitted in his castle studies that in the absence of a keep this would be the logical place for a typical castle dungeon, but access via a ladder unnecessarily required special skill. He suspected that it was more of a storage place for special valuables, a comprehensible train of thought, the room itself is still the best protected area of ​​the castle against violent external influences. The wall thicknesses are over five meters all around.

Nevertheless, the castle also made sure to accommodate prisoners. So Gottfried Werner had a block made for Wildenstein.

Castle courtyard and battlements

View into the courtyard

Behind the main bastion, bounded by a parapet walk (the straight, eastern and curved western one) is the castle courtyard. The 17-meter-deep cistern , which was built by Werner the Younger, is particularly noteworthy. After initial difficulties in sealing these were resolved, she ensured the water supply to the castle, as spring water was not available on the karst rock . Before Gottfried Werner's renovation, the closed battlement must have been, if not all around, at least on three sides, with a staircase at each end.

Castle chapel

Castle chapel with Wildenstein altar

The castle chapel with a 3/8 choir and late Gothic reticulated vault jumps off the eastern battlement . In its keystones are the coat of arms of Gottfried Werner von Zimmer and that of his wife Apollonia von Henneberg, in the consoles, among other things, the coat of arms of Gottfried Werner for Gottfried Werner's mother Margaretha von Öttingen († 1528).

The chapel was expanded in 1536/37 and equipped with an altar, possibly the so-called Wildenstein Altar , a major work by the master of Messkirch .

Presumably, during the renovation by the building officer Weinbrenner in 1867, today's altar was erected with copies of the altarpieces by the master of Messkirch. The style features of the carving point to this time. The original paintings came to the Princely Fürstenberg Collections in Donaueschingen. When the art treasures there were sold out, they could be saved from being sold abroad by being included in the Würth Collection . During the renovation, new windows with the Fürstenberg coat of arms were used.

The chapel has a cellar. There, the castle romance is rumored about a secret passage reaching into the valley of the Danube. More profane, it can be assumed that it is a structurally necessary basement that had a secondary defense function in that it was possible to secure the sides of the east side of the castle from there. In his castle studies, Piper points out that there were similar rooms in other castles that were used to hide belongings and people. The room is based on natural rock, a corridor is nowhere to be seen. In the attic there is a bell from 1525.

Housing (popularly Palas)

main building

At the end of the castle is a two-story residential building with a high roof construction with a dwarf house and gable dormers, not quite correctly called the Palas , although the large hall that is characteristic of it is missing. Today's Burgschänke and ancillary rooms are in the basement, and two large rooms on the upper floor, the western one of which serves as the youth hostel dining room. The right room is now divided into several parts: an anteroom for the reception of the youth hostel, an office and staff room and the kitchen of the youth hostel. A staircase leads from the anteroom into the former bower , today's apartment of the hostel management under the roof. The building has a partial basement. On the valley side, the rocks are, as already mentioned, sloped vertically, so that the outer wall heights are more than doubled.

Wall painting on Wildenstein

There are significant wall paintings on the upper floor, e.g. B. in the dining room ornamental leaf tendrils with bird motifs. In some cases, several beginnings of painting can be seen, an indication that if Gottfried Werner did not like work, he often had work stopped and started again, which drove up the building costs of the castle enormously. In the eastern room, the Sigenot saga is reproduced in a huge picture story across the entire exterior, including the window niches . According to the chronicle, Gottfried Werner liked to write himself. So after dinner he often ordered his clerk "with the carouser, and under the carousel he makes rhymes of the Berner and the risen, as then so book, so that he can work hard and work, still available at Wildenstain." Froben Christoph asks about the wall paintings here, or about a book that was formerly in the Fürstenberg library as manuscript Donaueschingen No. 74 and can now be found in the Baden State Library. Students from the University of Tübingen have examined this cycle of images, systematically documented it in pictures and sketches and made it accessible on the Internet.

Life in the castle

At the time of Gottfried Werner and his nephew Froben Christoph, life in the castle was no longer everyday. This had moved to the castle in Messkirch. If she was still the center of her life a generation before under Uncle Gottfried, she has now become a vanishing point, sometimes also a place of exile. The chronicle reports that Barbara was banished to the Wildenstein by her older brother Johannes Werner, whom she ran the household when he was not yet married. She had fallen in love with Hans von Weitingen and secretly wanted to become engaged to him. Several friends of the Weitingen and Zimmer family and even representatives from the city of Rottweil took on the matter. The marriage agreement was made on an arbitration day in Fridingen , on the Friday after Martini 1506. Hans von Weitingen later became Obervogt of Württemberg in Sulz under Duke Ulrich .

For Gottfried Werner, the castle was not only a refuge in times of need, but also a private retreat. The chronicle reports that he had a special love for the castle and often withdrew to Wildenstein for four or five days without a wife and court, an event that all sides looked forward to with joy, as they were happy to see the strict, often irascible owners to have the house.

The castle was administered by a Vogt , an absolute position of trust. For example, Gottfried Werner once had part of the castle team replaced in the absence of the castle bailiff, whom he no longer trusted. The regular occupation of the castle, at least when the master of the house was present, included a priest, who had to read mass regularly in the chapel, and also a barber for the master of the house. Every morning he had to smoke out Gottfried Werner's room with juniper and wait for him.

But it was often times of real hardship that made a stay in the castle necessary. For example, during an epidemic like the one in 1518, food was supplied by placing goods in front of the castle gate, for extra security without direct personal contact. The self-chosen isolation went so far that soon even the leather for the shoe repair ran out.

Other occasions were the Peasants' War in 1525, the Landenberg feud in 1540, the Schmalkaldic War in 1546/47 and the Prince's War in 1552. In the last two conflicts in particular, not only were the rooms found, but the neighboring Catholic nobility also sought protection on them, after the Protestant fortress Hohentwiel, the strongest and most modern castle in the region. It must have been very tight when, in addition to the rooms, the Counts of Helfenstein, the Truchsess von Waldburg, the Landkomtur von Altshausen and members of the Abbey of Beuron came to the castle with attachments, luggage and the transportable valuables. One must also assume that there will be no small military occupation. An escort that accompanied Froben Christoph's son, who had been left behind in Messkirch due to illness, to the castle when he was again transportable, consisted of 20 hookers; the total occupation of the castle should have been many times that.

Some behaviors that Froben Christoph describes in the chronicle can be described as camp fever . Wilhelm Truchsess von Waldburg speaks of a mousetrap, and one writer says of himself that he ran his head against the wall several times out of fear. Since no one was allowed to leave the castle, boredom arose, so that either they ate and drank and no longer wanted to sober up, or they slept or sang. The bailiff's wife is said to have had an affair with the organist from Meßkirch in the dark vaults of the castle. The castle bailiff declared that he had not killed her only to keep the peace. Gottfried Werner succeeded in de-escalating the situation to such an extent that the Vogt admitted that he had made a mistake in the darkness and so the affair could be settled while preserving the honor of all involved.

Gottfried Werner had great self-doubt as to whether it would make sense in the event of an actual siege to withstand and thereby allow the besiegers in the Zimmer villages to suffer misery and ruin through the looting that followed, or to betray his peers in the event of a surrender. These self-doubts and also the worries about his daughter Barbara, who was a nun in the Inzigkofen monastery, deprived him of sleep and messed up the daily routine, so that meals had to be taken at impossible times, which the entire castle crew had to adhere to. Since Gottfried Werner had barred all of the windows in the castle, he couldn't even throw the food he was dissatisfied with out of the window in his irascibility.

Leibertingen-Wildenstein Youth Hostel

Wildenstein Castle served as a youth hostel for the Baden-Württemberg regional association of the DJH even before it was sold by Princess Theresa zu Fürstenberg in 1971 . The castle was already well attended in 1958. Today there are 156 guest beds in the castle.

After the repair and renovation work began in 1972 and cost 4.7 million DM, the 900th anniversary celebration took place in 1977. In 1989 the wall frescoes in the dining room of the Palas were restored. In 2005, extensive work began on the roof structure of the main building, as it was getting on in years and was not heat-efficient. The planning was carried out in close cooperation with the Baden-Württemberg State Monuments Office . The roofs were last extensively re-covered in 2006. The castle is only partially accessible to the public. The castle tavern, the castle courtyard and the access to them via the bridges, the open part of the outer bailey and the castle gate are freely accessible during the day. All other rooms are reserved for youth hostel guests or only accessible to staff. The hostel management's apartment is on the upper floor of the hall. There is the possibility of organizing a tour of the castle with a tour guide who cooperates with the hostel management. During the winter months, Wildenstein Castle is temporarily completely closed to visitors.


Wildenstein above the Danube valley
  • Sybille Bock: Baden castles from a romantic perspective . (Selection from the holdings of the Augustinermuseum Freiburg i. Br.). Rombach Verlag, Freiburg i. Br. 1993, ISBN 3-7930-0678-6 . In it specifically on Wildenstein pp. 156/157.
  • Jens Florian Ebert: The Wildenstein Fortress in the Thirty Years' War and its cunning capture by the soldiers of Konrad Widerholt, Meßkircher Heimathefte No. 18 (2013–2014), published by the Museumsgesellschaft Meßkirch eV pp. 118–144.
  • Gunter Haug, Heinrich Güntner: Wildenstein Castle above the valley of the young Danube . DRW-Verlag, Leinfelden-Echterdingen 2001, ISBN 3-87181-464-4
  • Otto Piper: Castle studies, construction and history of castles . Munich 1912 (Reprint: Weltbild Verlag, Augsburg 1993, ISBN 3-89350-554-7 )
  • Günter Schmitt : Wildenstein and Leibertinger Ortsburg . In: Ders .: Burgenführer Schwäbische Alb. Volume 3: Danube Valley. Hiking and discovering between Sigmaringen and Tuttlingen . Biberacher Verlagsdruckerei, Biberach an der Riß 1990, ISBN 3-924489-50-5 , pp. 181-200
  • Anton Schlude , history of the Wildenstein castle fortress in the Donauthale. Edited from authentic sources (preface: Pastor Joseph Staiert). Sigmaringen: Verlag HW Beck (C. Tappen), 1856. Reprint: Leibertingen, 1977.

For further literature see article Zimmerische Chronik .

Web links

Commons : Burg Wildenstein (Leibertingen)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files


  1. He also expanded the neighboring Falkenstein Castle before selling it to his brother Johannes Werner in 1525. He also offered his brother Wilhelm Werner to rebuild his castle Herrenzimmern as long as he was staying at the Imperial Court of Justice, which the latter refused with thanks due to doubts about the security of the statics of Gottfried Werner's architectural style ( Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 3, page 110 ).
  2. Does the copy of the Wildenstein Altar , which is located here today, come from this time? The style of the carving suggests this time.
  3. A note that applies to many castles and ruins in the region.
  4. The dimensions are taken from: Otto Piper, Burgenkunde, p. 609 ff and Günter Schmitt, Burgenführer Schwäbische Alb, Volume 3 Donautal, p. 192ff.
  5. As unexpectedly this message shows: Rock fall in the Danube valley ( Memento from September 28, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  6. In an unpublished letter, Günter Schmitt writes: “The roof construction, designed as a monopitch roof, rests freely on the wall, ie it is not attached to the upper edge of the wall. The wooden structure itself is connected with removable, pull-out wooden nails. In theory and in practice there was therefore the possibility, if the danger was [recognized] in good time, to dismantle the fire-endangered wooden structure and throw it into the rear courtyard. "
  7. Günter Schmitt also writes in an unpublished letter that today he would also rather refer to the room as a pantry or warehouse
  8. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 1, Page 429. The bailiff ordered the carpenters to arm the seating area, which made them indignant at Gottfried's. When he confronted the bailiff, he replied that evildoers had to be punished and that they couldn't bake cakes. Gottfried Werner let it go at that, but when the Vogt got into debt shortly afterwards, he was the first to enjoy the new block.
  9. The chronicle reports how the young brothers Gottfried Werner and Wilhelm Werner chase a dog of their uncle Gottfried over the battlements and cut him off at the end of his escape to the castle courtyard and that the uncle initially cannot see them when he arrives. ( Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, Page 387 )
  10. The capacity of today's youth hostel is 156 beds in 37, mostly four-, six-, eight- and ten-bed rooms. The following common rooms are also available. The respective (seating) capacity is only intended to illustrate a room size: parade room (100 seats), west tower (60 seats), casemate and east tower (45 seats each), former chapel in the west tower (35 seats), bastion and fireplace room (25 seats) . A large part of these rooms will have been occupied by military equipment and luggage, but at least some of the soldiers will certainly have found sleeping places there.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Günter Schmitt: Burgenführer Schwäbische Alb, Volume 3, Danube Valley, page 186
  2. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 1, page 563
  3. Günter Schmitt: Burgenführer Schwäbische Alb, Volume 3: Donautal, Biberach 1990, ISBN 3-924489-50-5 , pp. 187f.
  4. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 1, page 476
  5. a b Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 1, Page 502
  6. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 1, Page 534
  7. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 1, Page 562
  8. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 1, page 564
  9. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, Page 2
  10. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 270
  11. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 55
  12. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, Page 070
  13. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 243ff
  14. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 273
  15. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 274f
  16. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 410
  17. Günter Schmitt, Burgenführer Schwäbische Alb, Vol. 3 Danube Valley, page 188
  18. Gunter Haug and Heinrich Güntner, Wildenstein Castle above the valley of the young Danube, Leinfelden-Echterdingen, 2001, p. 76ff. With Günter Schmitt, Castle Guide Swabian Alb, Volume 3 Danube Valley; On p. 188 the commandant is called Junker Rosenfeld
  19. this and the following detailed information: Haug and Güntner: Burg Wildenstein , p. 18ff.
  20. ↑ A walk through history with wit and humor . In: Schwäbische Zeitung of September 2, 2001
  21. ^ Haug and Güntner: Burg Wildenstein, p. 96f.
  22. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, Page 455
  23. Piper, Burgenkunde, p. 610
  24. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 3, Page 111
  25. a b Armin Hafner, Danube Valley Guide
  26. Piper, Burgenkunde, p. 409
  27. Günter Schmitt, Burgenführer, Volume 3, p. 195
  28. Piper, Burgenkunde, p. 391
  29. a b Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 4, page 180
  30. Otto Piper: Burgenkunde, 3rd edition, Munich 1912: Reprint at Weltbild, 1992, ISBN 3-89350-554-7 , p. 529f.
  31. Piper, Burgenkunde, p. 526
  32. a b Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 4, page 64
  33. Sigenot frescos
  34. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 114
  35. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 3, Page 385
  36. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 80
  37. Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 2, page 489
  38. a b c Zimmerische Chronik, Volume 4, page 57 ff
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on May 7, 2008 in this version .