Fürstenau Castle (Michelstadt)

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Castle with the magnificent arch built in 1588

Fürstenau Castle is a moated castle on the Mümling in the Steinbach district of Michelstadt in the Odenwald.



The castle was built by Kurmainz in the 14th century to protect the neighboring Steinbach monastery and the surrounding goods from the Electoral Palatinate . The process is to be assessed as a dispute between the Archdiocese and the Palatinate as a result of the transfer of the Lorsch Monastery to Kurmainz in 1232. Construction on Lehnsgrund the taverns of Erbach , the fief taker of Palatine, were led to complications that were resolved first with the award of a castle fief and later pledging to Erbach. The earliest mention of the castle comes from the year 1310. In 1317 Schenk Eberhard VI. von Erbach called as Mainz Burgmann. After the castle was initially given to Erbach as a Mainz fiefdom, the taverns acquired Fürstenau in 1355 and finally in 1454. Until then, a Mainz bailiff had resided at the castle.

Watercolor on paper by Christian Kehrer , around 1800.

Renaissance extensions

Count Georg III. von Erbach (1548–1605) had the system expanded like a castle and the large decorative arch built in place of the former gate system. Large parts of the outer bailey, such as the finishing shop in the north (around 1590), the Marstall (1591 ), which was later redesigned in Baroque style, and the castle mill outside (end of the 16th century), go back to the count's lively building activity. Renaissance jewelry forms dominate the castle buildings of this time .

Residence on the Erbach-Fürstenau line

With the Erbach inheritance in 1717/18, Fürstenau became the seat of the Erbach-Fürstenau family , who still live in the castle today. Its status as a residence required further expansion, which began in the middle of the 18th century. The garden pavilion was built in 1754–56, and a few years later it was expanded into a court theater (1767). The gate and shed building (also Neuer Bau , 1764–66) and a barn (1754) were built in the southern forecourt . The classical "New Palace" had to give way to the palace chapel and the chancellery from 1808–1814, which were also from the time of George III. came from. The designs for the new building come from Friedrich Gerhard Wahl , building director of the Duchy of Pfalz-Zweibrücken . The orangery in the pleasure garden (1834–38 in place of a previous building from 1760) and a wooden storage room (1886) in the courtyard are among the latest buildings in the palace ensemble .


Exterior view of the north side.
View into the courtyard of the outer bailey with the “New Palace”.
Schlossmühle (left) and Kavaliersbau (right) on the Mümling .
The baroque cavalier house.

Today's palace complex contains buildings from all centuries and forms a remarkable series of different architectural styles. The oldest components are contained in the fort-shaped core castle in the north.

A tour of the castle courtyard is possible, however, due to the private use of the ensemble by the Erbach-Fürstenau family, it is subject to changing restrictions depending on the time of year, time of day and day of the week.

Core castle

The oldest part of the complex has a trapezoidal floor plan with four round corner towers. Parts of the oldest moated castle can be found in the south wing of the core castle (so-called “stone house” in the vicinity of the Red Tower ). The masonry of the north and east wing comes from the 14th, half-timbered floors and roofs from the 14th and 15th centuries. The "Red Tower" with its Renaissance spire was built between 1531 and 1588 and replaced an earlier, smaller tower. It contains a chapel with a stucco ceiling. Remnants of wall paintings are preserved in the castle courtyard, in the north-west tower and in the "Red Tower".

From the time of George III. the vaults of the Eppsteinschen apartments, a spiral staircase and the main portal come from here. The most important reconstruction, however, consisted in the demolition of the western defensive wall towards the outer bailey. It was replaced in 1588 by a mighty archway with a span of 15.60 m and an openwork stone parapet. There is a coat of arms on it.

Outer bailey and outbuildings

In contrast to the "old castle" as the core of the complex, the current building stock of the outer bailey was built between the 16th and 19th centuries. The classicist residential wing "Neues Palais" (1808–14) and the gate and shed building ("Neuer Bau", 1764/66) are well worth seeing. Outside the outer bailey towards the Mümling is the Renaissance castle mill, a former mint (now its own run-of-river power station ) and the graceful baroque cavalier's house . Several prominent visual artists have set up in the outer bailey (including in the former royal stables, after 1765).

Castle garden and orangery

The count's garden is on both sides of the Mümling; the eastern, larger part of it is not open to the public. It existed since the 17th century as a checkerboard-shaped ornamental garden based on the Dutch pattern and was converted into an English landscape garden in 1811-26 . This is where the late baroque orangery is located , on the upper floor of which the small palace theater was housed.


  • Thomas Biller: Castles and palaces in the Odenwald. A guide to history and architecture. Schnell and Steiner, Regensburg 2005, ISBN 3-7954-1711-2 , pp. 177-180.
  • Georg Dehio : Handbook of the German art monuments - Hessen. (Ed .: Magnus Backes), 2nd edition, Munich 1982, ISBN 3-422-00380-0 , pp. 833f.
  • Rudolf Knappe: Medieval castles in Hessen. 800 castles, castle ruins and fortifications. 3. Edition. Wartberg-Verlag, Gudensberg-Gleichen 2000, ISBN 3-86134-228-6 , pp. 550f.
  • Falk Krebs: Fürstenau Castle. Michelstadt-Steinbach in the Odenwald. Architectural history development from the castle of the Archbishops of Mainz to the residential palace of the Counts of Erbach-Fürstenau. Univ. Diss. Kaiserslautern 1980 [also as reprint: Michelstadt 1982].
  • Falk Krebs: The orangery in the Fürstenauer Schloßpark. In: The Odenwald. Zeitschrift des Breuberg-Bundes, Issue 1, 1990 pp. 17–24.
  • Otto Müller : The Fürstenauer Schloßpark. In: The Odenwald. Zeitschrift des Breuberg-Bundes, Issue 1, 1990 pp. 11–16.
  • Thomas Steinmetz: Castles in the Odenwald. Verlag Ellen Schmid, Brensbach 1998, ISBN 3-931529-02-9 , p. 91f.
  • Hans Teubner and Sonja Bonin: Cultural monuments in Hesse. Odenwaldkreis, published by the State Office for Monument Preservation Hessen , Vieweg, Braunschweig / Wiesbaden 1998 ( Monument topography Federal Republic of Germany ) pp. 34 and 508–512. ISBN 3-528-06242-8
  • Rolf Müller (Ed.): Palaces, castles, old walls. Published by the Hessendienst der Staatskanzlei, Wiesbaden 1990, ISBN 3-89214-017-0 , pp. 253f.

Web links

Commons : Schloss Fürstenau  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 49 ° 41 ′ 16.9 "  N , 8 ° 59 ′ 57.7"  E