Wernigerode Castle

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Wernigerode Castle
Wernigerode Castle

Wernigerode Castle

Creation time : 12th to 13th centuries
Castle type : Hilltop castle
Conservation status: Preserved, converted into a castle
Standing position : Noble
Place: Wernigerode
Geographical location 51 ° 49 '49.9 "  N , 10 ° 47' 42"  E Coordinates: 51 ° 49 '49.9 "  N , 10 ° 47' 42"  E
Wernigerode Castle (Saxony-Anhalt)
Wernigerode Castle

The Castle Wernigerode in Saxony-Anhalt Wernigerode received its present form in the late 19th century and became a Leitbau the northern German historicism . Today it houses a much-visited museum and a branch of the Saxony-Anhalt Cultural Foundation .


Wernigerode Castle around 1860, Alexander Duncker collection
Wernigerode - town and castle, ca.1820

The first documentary mention of a Count of Wernigerode in 1121 is also the first mention of the clearing settlement Wernigerode, whose beginnings can be dated about a century earlier. Wernigerode Castle was built between 1110 and 1120 over the already existing Wernigerode settlement . Its first documentary mention as "Castrum Wernigerode" comes from the year 1213. At that time it was considered to be one of the most solid castles in the Harz region. Its builder was Count Adalbert, who was named for the first time in 1121 as “Comes de Wernigerothe” in a document from Halberstadt's Bishop Reinhard von Blankenburg . The Counts of Wernigerode did not come from the Harz region, but the former Swabian Ministeriale Adalbert von Haimar, who owned a county in the Hildesheim area , was only settled on the northern edge of the Harz by Emperor Heinrich V in order to consolidate the imperial position of power here.

The Counts of Wernigerode had their rulership and property rights in an area that was characterized by a variety of other small territorial powers. Immediately adjacent were the Counts of Blankenburg and von Regenstein , with whom there were frequent arguments.

The counts had the castle built as a ring-shaped complex with a polygonal curtain wall on a protruding hilltop of the Agnesberg as a well defensible hilltop castle. Two trade and military roads crossed at their feet, which was one of the main reasons why numerous craftsmen and traders settled in Wernigerode under the protection of the castle. On the side of the valley facing the Wernigerode settlement, the necessary residential buildings were inserted directly into the wall ring. The associated buildings such as the “Hofstubenbau”, “Steinernes Haus”, and “Neues Haus” are only partially preserved today, as they were rebuilt in the 16th and 19th centuries. Today, in their changed shape, they determine large parts of the west and north façades of the palace and house the style rooms of the Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism as well as the so-called “king rooms” on the museum tour.

On April 17, 1229, the Counts of Wernigerode granted the rapidly growing settlement town charter based on the example of neighboring Goslar . The largely self-contained territory of the County of Wernigerode , as it existed for many centuries, was not formed until 1343. At that time, the Counts of Regenstein, who were defeated in a devastating neighborhood war, were forced to cede large parts of their territory to the Counts of Wernigerode.

Within today so spacious courtyard, the acting were originally castle chapel and the dungeon . Both buildings were demolished in the 14th century. The chapel was replaced by a new, larger church on the east side of the territory of the castle. The function of the defense tower was taken over by the tower built in the 14th century on the northwest corner of the castle grounds, which is still preserved today. His job was to protect the valley side of the castle with the castle entrance.

When the Counts of Wernigerode died out in the male line in 1429, the related Counts of Stolberg took over the County of Wernigerode and with it the castle. While the newly acquired property was initially pledged to Count Heinrich von Schwarzburg , several representatives of the Counts of Stolberg settled here in the 16th century.

To improve the defense of the castle, the originally wooden palisades above the moat were replaced by stone walls between the 14th and 16th centuries . A coherent defense system was built around the main castle, which consisted of various moats, ramparts , walls, gates and kennels and made the castle almost impregnable well into the 16th century. In contrast to the castles Hohnstein , Stolberg and Heimburg , it was not conquered by the rebels during the German Peasant War . However, this military importance was canceled in the 17th century by the development of heavier firearms and the associated decisive changes in warfare. During the Thirty Years' War , the castle could no longer be defended and, after disputes with representatives of the city of Wernigerode, it was given up as the seat of power and the Stolberg residence was relocated to Ilsenburg . It was abandoned by the counts and stood empty for years. Troops passing through looted the inventory and the walls and buildings fell into disrepair. Only after the end of the Thirty Years' War did the counts decide to have the castle repaired. In the period from 1671 to 1676 the castle was converted into a baroque residential palace that no longer had a military defense function. The focus of construction activity during this time was the construction of a new baroque half-timbered building , the so-called "summer building", on the south side of the palace. The entrance to the upper castle of this “summer building” was via a terrace that extended into the middle of today's inner courtyard. The wooden portal, decorated with coats of arms and carved angels, still serves as a window frame, as the access terrace has been relocated.

The young Count Christian Ernst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode , who had inherited the rule in 1710, moved his court seat back to Wernigerode. In the second half of the 19th century, this baroque palace underwent major architectural changes. After taking office in 1858, Count Otto zu Stolberg-Wernigerode began to have smaller, then more and more extensive renovations and new constructions carried out on the castle. The simple and provincial baroque palace was no longer sufficient for the count's growing need for representation, who as President of the Prussian mansion and as Vice Chancellor of the German Empire temporarily held very important political offices. Between 1862 and 1885 he had it converted into a spacious, prestigious palace. The inner courtyard of the palace was given its picturesque design. The palace church, which was completed in 1880 according to plans by the Viennese architect Friedrich von Schmidt , was also built. The notch carvings in the parapet fields of the neo - renaissance half - timbering on the hall building erected from 1878 to 1881 and on the wooden house were made by the wood sculptor Gustav Kuntzsch from Wernigerode . In historicist , predominantly neo-Gothic style at the time was with about 250 rooms and numerous towers and separate buildings which are interconnected by stairs, the current building complex. The interior design details such as the coffered ceilings , wall paneling and parquet floors make the castle particularly valuable .

In 1929 the castle was given up as the permanent residence of the Fürst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode family. Parts of the outdoor facilities and internal rooms could be viewed publicly from April 1930 to the end of December 1943 as part of guided tours for a fee. At that time, over 40,000 people visited the castle every year. From 1944 onwards, most of the castle was used for residential purposes by the armaments office. Botho Fürst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode as the owner of the castle was expropriated in 1945 through the land reform .

In mid-December 1946 there was an uncontrolled destruction of all historical weapons and armor as well as the paintings of people in uniforms or with military decorations by Soviet military members.

The branch of the Kulturstiftung Sachsen-Anhalt in the castle is headed by Konrad Breitenborn .


Feudal Museum Schloss Wernigerode (1986)

After handing over to the city of Wernigerode in 1946, a “feudal museum” was set up in the castle, “which not only documents the splendor of earlier centuries, but also their misery”. For this purpose, “furniture, boxes and boxes were brought in from the castles of Blankenburg and Ilsenburg, ” as Spiegel reported in a 1949 report. The Spiegel author describes the orientation of the museum as follows: “Sensible signs on the exhibits indicate the direction. "For the prince the splendid bed, the subjects the straw sack", is written on an old-fashioned carved alcove. "The museum guide turns" four times the same cylinder of the degenerate nobility in decline, based on Ludwig Renn . "

From 1990 onwards, the castle initially operated as a castle museum and since 1998 has served as the first German museum center for art and cultural history of the 19th century. Originally furnished living rooms of the German nobility before 1918, as well as thematic rooms on the history of the Stolberg-Wernigerode family and the second German Empire are shown in almost 50 rooms. Additional focuses are also handicrafts and furniture from the 16th to the 19th century. In one room there are exhibits with the accompanying original commentaries from the time of the “Feudal Museum”.



  • Josef Walz: From Wernigerode Castle to the State Palace . Feudalmuseum Schloß Wernigerode, Wernigerode 1974, 2nd edition.
  • Feudal Museum Schloss Wernigerode. Small guide through the museum . Tourist-Verlag, Berlin 1987, 16th edition, ISBN 3-350-00166-1 .
  • Bruno J. Sobotka (Ed.): Castles, palaces and manor houses in Saxony Anhalt. Photographs by Jürgen Strauss. Publications of the German Castle Association e. V. Theiss Verlag, Stuttgart 1994, ISBN 3806211019 , pp. 17, 34, 46, 85, 159, 175 ff., 183, 209, 223, 391 f.

See also

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b c d e Konrad Breitenborn : Feudalmuseum Schloss Wernigerode In: Small guide through the museum: VEB Tourist Verlag Berlin, Leipzig, 15th edition 1986, pp. 2-5.
  2. ^ Klaus Viedebantt : Travel country GDR. Heyne, Munich 1983, ISBN 978-3-453-35530-9 , p. 134
  3. a b c Entwertete Aktien Der Spiegel from May 26, 1949
  4. ^ Website of the museums of Saxony-Anhalt - Werningerode Castle