Elisabeth Fountain (Wartburg)

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Elisabeth Fountain (2009)

The Elisabethbrunnen is a medieval spring source on the main access route to the Wartburg near Eisenach in Thuringia . The donkey station is very close by .


The Elisabethbrunnen is located on the Elisabethplan on the northern slope of the castle hill of the Wartburg at 325  m above sea level. NN , thus about 50 to 75 meters below the castle complex. The Wartburgallee leads directly north past the site of the Elisabethbrunnen.


At the Elisabeth Fountain (around 1710)
At the Elisabeth Fountain (around 1740)
Ritgens Elisabeth Fountain (around 1860)

Even in the early days of the castle, the water had to be laboriously carried up the mountain with the help of donkeys, in order to then store it in barrels or collect it in the cistern . The source mainly used for this purpose was the Elisabeth fountain, named after Landgravine Elisabeth - a sparsely flowing layer spring.

The current appearance of the fountain corresponds roughly to the romantic concept of the 19th century. The well house set in the slope was renewed during the Wartburg restoration by the lead architect Hugo von Ritgen according to his own ideas and using two capitals from the castle's pallas. Previously, as Denhardt's illustration dated around 1740 shows, this area had become a drinking and resting place shaded by old trees, and the spring catchment was only secured by weathered masonry.

In his Wartburg guide, Ritgen mentions that the water quality of the Elisabeth fountain was often inadequate due to careless handling, as well as poor maintenance and cleaning measures carried out by the donkey driver, the need alone required the consumption of this water… .


The place of the spring version was examined several times because of its importance for the castle history. The original structure can be understood from the descriptions and through today's inspection.

The natural spring place was unsuitable for permanent use; a spring version was created for this purpose. The surrounding rock was exposed around the spring and a kind of niche was worked into the rock. The water emerging from the rock here is usually clouded by suspended matter, which is why a collecting basin was built into the rock at the bottom of the niche, the shaft should be about ten meters deep in order to be able to collect a lot of water as quickly as possible through the large surface . The unwanted suspended matter is then deposited at the bottom of the shaft. To protect against external contamination and accidents, the access to this niche was closed with a door. In a later expansion phase, this shaft was connected by a drainage pipe leading to the outside, the water was led into one or more basins so that it could be scooped up; there was certainly also a cattle trough in the immediate vicinity.

Elisabeth's Hospital

Elisabeth Hospital excavation site

The founding of a hospital in the vicinity of the Elisabethbrunnen has been handed down from the history of the Wartburg. The landgrave, who was famous for her mercy, gentleness and care for the poor and sick, arranged for this building to be built directly below the spring. Thus, the people arriving here could be cleaned and cared for immediately.

Franciscan monastery on the Elisabethplan

After the death and canonization of Elisabeth, the Franciscans were given the opportunity to build a modest monastery right above the spring and the hospital. This should continue to make hospital operations possible and at the same time it was hoped to create a place of pilgrimage here. The monastery existed from 1331 to 1525 and had a church and several farm buildings. The complex was protected with an enclosure wall that also included the well house and the hospital. After the withdrawal of the Franciscans in 1525 as a result of the peasant uprising , which also flared up in the Eisenach area , the monastery was abandoned and the buildings served as inexpensive building material and storage space. At the same time, the hospital operations must have come to a standstill, as the necessary taxes and donations were no longer necessary with the secularization of the monastery.

Restoration by Ritgen

The Wartburg architect Hugo von Ritgen redesigned the Elisabethbrunnen as a small memorial for Saint Elisabeth as early as 1851, in the early years of the Wartburg restoration. In front of the rock and the remains of the wall, he set a grotto-like vault, which he decorated with two columns from the Warttburgpallas. At the same time he took care of cleaning the well shaft and thus secured the water supply to the castle. Until the Wartburg aqueduct was built, the Elisabeth fountain was the castle's most important source of drinking water.

The water flow of the fountain became increasingly unreliable, which is why a supply line to the Elisabeth fountain was laid in 1905 when a water pipe was built from the Wartburg to the Eisenacher Südstadt.

Archaeological digs

General plan for the excavation (2006)

When further leveling and beautification work around the Elisabethbrunnen began in 1924, the foundation walls of the infirmary and the monastery that remained in the ground were uncovered. The excavation scheduled for 1927 did not materialize. When in 1956, when the road was being built near the fountain, remnants of the wall were again found, a scientific excavation was agreed with the Thuringian Museum of Prehistory and Early History, which was initially able to uncover a first area around the Elisabeth fountain from August 12 to September 23, 1957. The remnants of the wall measured in the search cuts indicated that there was extensive development, but the excavation campaigns planned in the following years were only continued by the Wartburg Foundation with the support of a local excavation team and had to be stopped on October 5, 1964 for financial reasons.

A redesign of the Elisabeth plan was requested for the Elisabeth anniversary in 2007, this gave rise to the completion of the scientific investigation of the hospital area and the monastery. The most important excavation findings were already presented on the day of the Open Monument in September 2006 through guided tours and published the following year. When designing the square, the Elisabeth fountain and adjacent wall sections were renovated, access roads and stairs were secured and information boards were set up. In front of the archaeologically secured walls of the infirmary and the small monastery church, an Elisabeth monument was erected on a ground floor slab. The larger than life bronze figure by the Berlin sculptor Hans Dammann (1867–1942) was originally intended as a mourning figure for a tomb and depicts a woman with a bouquet of roses in her arms.

Current usage

Franciscan monastery excavation area

The Elisabeth Fountain is part of the Wartburg monument ensemble and is maintained by technical staff from the Wartburg. The site is freely accessible.


  • Hilmar Schwarz: The Elisabethplan below the Wartburg . In: Wartburg Foundation (Hrsg.): Wartburg year book . tape 1995 . Gotha Druck Wechmar, Eisenach 1996, p. 59-90 .
  • Gerd Bergmann: Older history of Eisenach. From the beginning to the beginning of the 19th century . Ed .: Eisenacher History Association. Kröner, Eisenach 1994, ISBN 3-9803976-0-2 , p. 60, 135-137 .


  1. Manfred Beck, Hilmar Schwarz: The Eisenacher Castle . In: Wartburg Foundation (Hrsg.): Wartburg yearbook . tape 1995 . Eisenach 1996, p. 35-66 .
  2. ^ A b Hugo von Ritgen: The leader on the Wartburg . In: A guide for strangers and a contribution to the customer of the past . JJ Weber publishing house, Leipzig 1860, p. 7 .
  3. Gerd Bergmann: The Eisenacher Pfaffensturm . In: Eisenach Information (Ed.): Eisenach Information . Issue 8. Printing and Publishing House Frisch, Eisenach 1986, p. 5-11 .
  4. Max Baumgärtel (ed.): The Wartburg. A monument to German history and art . Kröner, Berlin 1907, ISBN 3-9803976-0-2 , p. 150 .
  5. ^ A b Hilmar Schwarz: The Elisabeth plan below the Wartburg . In: Wartburg Foundation (Hrsg.): Wartburg year book . tape 1995 . Gotha Druck Wechmar, Eisenach 1996, p. 59-90 .
  6. The plan was to create a rose garden
  7. Presumably found Fritz Erbe. In: Eisenachonline.de online magazine. Retrieved January 25, 2010 .

See also

Commons : Elisabethplan and Elisabethbrunnen  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 50 ° 58 ′ 4.7 ″  N , 10 ° 18 ′ 28.8 ″  E