Spangenberg Castle

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Spangenberg Castle
Spangenberg Castle

Spangenberg Castle

Alternative name (s): Spangenberg Castle
Castle type : Hilltop castle
Place: Spangenberg
Geographical location 51 ° 7 '10 "  N , 9 ° 39' 43.3"  E Coordinates: 51 ° 7 '10 "  N , 9 ° 39' 43.3"  E
Spangenberg Castle (Hesse)
Spangenberg Castle
View from Melsunger Strasse in Spangenberg to Spangenberg Castle
Spangenberg Castle in an excerpt from the Topographia Hassiae et Regionum Vicinarum (1655)
The inner courtyard of the Spangenberg castle complex
The tower above the gate to the courtyard

The Spangenberg Castle is a castle above the town of Spangenberg in northern Hesse Schwalm-Eder-Kreis . The originally Gothic complex was first a castle , then a fortress , hunting lodge, prison, forest school and is now a hotel and restaurant.

Geographical location

The Spangenberg Castle stands between the Spangenberger core town in the Pfieffe valley in the east and south and the Elbersdorf district on the wooded Schloßberg in the west and north of the Essebach tributary to the Pfieffe tributary and directly bordering the core town .


The first castle complex was probably built by the Lords of Treffurt , who came from Thuringia, as the center of their small dominion in the area around Spangenberg and Morschen . The important trade route through the long Hessen from Frankfurt to Leipzig could be monitored well from here. The traffic route offered favorable development conditions for the newly founded settlement below the castle; it was designated as a city ( civitas ) as early as 1261 , but it was not until 1309 that the knights Hermann and Friedrich von Treffurt gave it city rights according to Lippstadt law . The size and shape of the 13th century hilltop castle are not exactly known. In the southern wing, parts of the original hall have been preserved. The representative and living quarters of the lord's family were located there. The entrance to the castle was probably specially protected from the start and the entire complex was surrounded by a wall. The outbuildings initially consisted largely of half-timbered houses . Since the supply of drinking water was essential, the excavation of the approximately 100-meter-deep castle well was probably already carried out when the castle was built.

Knight's castle and landgrave castle

The first officially mentioned owner of the castle and town of Spangenberg was the knight Hermann von Treffurt (1235). He was enfeoffed by the Count of Ziegenhain with the rule of Spangenberg. Since that time, the gentlemen from Treffurt also called themselves "Herren von Spangenberg". The brothers Hermann and Friedrich von Spangenberg and Treffurt, as robber barons, caused unrest in their Thuringian region in 1327. In the period that followed, there was a clear decline in the gender of those "von Treffurt and Spangenberg". At times they led an unrestrained life, became enemies with their neighbors through violence, and even fought among themselves. Eventually knight Hermann IX sold. in 1350 castle, office and town of Spangenberg to the Hessian Landgrave Heinrich II for a total of 8000 silver marks, at that time a considerable sum even for a sovereign. Since that time Spangenberg has been Hessian.

The castle served the Hessian landgraves as a residence and hunting lodge for two centuries:

  • Residence of Landgrave Heinrich II, "the Iron" (1299–1377).
  • Otto der Schütz , son of Heinrich II., Lived here and provided material for many anecdotes and legends (1322–1366); Otto tended the noble hunting with pack and horse, horn, crossbow and boar pen ; his love story with Elsbeth von Cleve was written by Gottfried Kinkel in the epic poem Otto der Schütz. A Rhenish story in twelve adventures (Cotta'sche Handbibliothek; Vol. 171, Cotta, Stuttgart 1846) processed literarily.
  • Landgrave Hermann the Scholar (1341–1413) resided at the castle.
  • Landgrave Ludwig the Peaceful (1402–1458) was born at Spangenberg Castle and died here too.
  • Landgrave Wilhelm I (1466–1515) died at Spangenberg Castle.
  • Landgrave Philipp the Magnanimous (1504–1567) led Hesse to political and cultural importance. His "concubine" Margarethe von der Saale lived in the corner house at Burgstrasse / Klosterstrasse in the town of Spangenberg.
  • Landgrave Wilhelm IV the Wise (1532–1592) strengthened the fortress considerably and gave the castle its present-day appearance.
  • In addition, the castle was also the widow's seat of Hessian landgraveesses several times during this period.

In terms of architectural history, these years were of great importance for the entire facility. Landgrave Ludwig the Peaceable, in particular, had the castle strengthened by building the walls of the castle with six shell towers. A new gate with the state coat of arms and three decorative battlements gave the entrance a representative appearance. The castle was considered so safe that large amounts of money and archives of the landgraves were temporarily kept here in the 15th century.

Fortress, prison

The advent of firearms made extensive new construction work necessary. Probably under Landgrave Philipp, a mighty earth wall with casemates was built on the north-eastern main side of the attack. A large gun turret with a diameter of 22 meters formed the corner of this new fortification. The subterranean corridor system that was created at this time and was used to defend the new fortifications has largely been preserved to this day, but is not accessible to the public.

1584 appointed Landgraf Wilhelm IV. Hans Wilhelm Kirchhof to Viscount at Schloss Spangenberg. He married Margarethe Stuckenrad for the second time and had nine children with her. In addition to his work as a burgrave, he was active as a writer at Spangenberg Castle. From 1584 to 1605 he closed his Wendunmuhth , a collection of Schwank , anecdotes and stories . He died at the age of about 80 in 1602 or 1603.

Around 1580, Landgrave Wilhelm IV had a hall and the adjoining "commanders' building" (in the northeast) built. The courtyard was completely surrounded. At the beginning of the Thirty Years War the fortifications had to be reinforced again. By 1636 a bastion was placed in front of the west side. The building on the wall, which today serves as a hunting museum, was built as a replacement for the ancillary structures that were demolished. Since the fortifications had been strengthened, the castle remained in Hessian hands during the Thirty Years' War, during the reign of Landgravine Amalie Elisabeth (1637–1650). The city, on the other hand, was half destroyed in 1637. After 1648, the castle had largely lost its importance as a landgrave's seat and as a fortress, and therefore almost only maintenance work was now carried out. Nevertheless, Spangenberg was still considered a secondary fortress of the Landgraviate of Hessen-Kassel . The old castle was no longer valued as a princely residence in the Baroque era , but was still maintained as a fortress and occupied by invalids.

In the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), the all-star disability fortress was of French troops under on 9 November 1758 for the first time Louis of Balbes de Berton et de Crillon, Duke of Mahon in the coup be taken (1758), because you had forgotten to pull up a drawbridge . The French captured 18 cannons , 307 rifles , ammunition and 44 powder kegs. From 1763 the fortress was used as a state prison (detention center for officers ). For this purpose, several large rooms were divided into cells. In 1840 a new guard house was built outside the trench. During the constitutional struggles in Electorate Hesse at the time of Electors Wilhelm II (1821–1847) and Friedrich Wilhelm I (1847–1866), many political prisoners came to the Spangenberg fortress.

After the annexation of Electorate Hesse by Prussia (1866) the prison was dissolved and only the most necessary maintenance measures were restricted. The empty building was supervised by a castellan . The fortifications began to grow over. French prisoners of war were housed in 1870/71.

Forest school

It was not until 1907/08 that the castle was given a new use as a Prussian forest school. This required major reconstruction work, whereby efforts were made to preserve the original character of the building. When the forestry school moved in, the old tradition of Otto the Sagittarius and its earlier importance as a hunting lodge followed. On June 15, 1913, Kaiser Wilhelm II attended the forest school in Spangenberg.

In 1937 the forest school celebrated its 30th anniversary. At that time, the director was forester Friedrich Dierking. When war broke out in September 1939, Dierking and many teachers and forestry students were called up for military service and the training of young foresters in Spangenberg was interrupted and not resumed later. That made Dierking the last principal of the school. In the 32 years of the school's existence, around 1,200 young forest officials at Spangenberg Castle qualified for their jobs.

Destruction and reconstruction - catering business

During the Second World War , the castle was again used as a prisoner of war camp ( "Oflag IX A" ), this time for English officers. Shortly after their withdrawal, at the end of March 1945, the buildings burned down completely after American air fire. Only the surrounding walls remained in ruins.

The involvement of the citizens of Spangenberg for the castle finally brought about the reconstruction by the state of Hesse in the 1950s under the direction of the building councilor Dr. Textor. Although the interior of the castle was completely destroyed at the end of the war, the external shape of the building gives an idea of ​​the importance of the fortress in the past. Their access is secured by strong bastions. The main castle is protected by a deep, wide moat. There are two entrances to the narrow courtyard. The western gate, which used to be protected by a drawbridge, is dominated by a tall tower with a steep hipped roof. Before the fire, the castle roof contained various dormers and roof fittings that were not used during the reconstruction. The simple multi-storey buildings from the 15th to 17th centuries have small two-part Gothic windows on the upper floor and on the courtyard side, otherwise high rectangular windows from the 17th century. Inside, none of the large wall paintings survived the destruction of the war. They showed u. a. the return of Otto the Sagittarius. A putti frieze could be seen in the former audience hall; in addition, there were Gothic chimneys and magnificent ovens in the rooms, of which only shards remained. From the original treffurtischen castle fortress from the 13th century only a round arched vaulted cellar over a once 126 meter deep well is preserved.

In addition to the previous use of the castle as a landgrave's hunting lodge and residence, as a prison and forestry school, another function has now been added. Up to the present day there is an upscale gastronomy with a hotel and conference rooms. After its reconstruction (1983), a hunting museum (see box) was housed in the former armory, which dates from 1625.

At the beginning of the 1960s, from the large number of state-owned castles and palaces, all those that were suitable for being run as a restaurant and / or hotel were combined. The former managing director of the “Castles and Palaces of the State of Hesse”, Johannes Lill, justified the sense of this measure: “They didn't want to restore the monuments of bygone times and then let them die again in beauty. Rather, they should be filled with new life; because the monuments are right in the middle of us. This also applies to Spangenberg Castle, an old castle that literally grows out of a mountain cone, as if the crest of this natural crowning had been there long ago. Castle and landscape are one unit. ... The guest, who is surrounded by this pleasant atmosphere of past and present, will fondly remember his stay at Spangenberg Castle and awaken his interest in the long history of the castle. "


Elbersdorf (left) on the Essebach and Spangenberger core town (right) on the Pfieffe with Spangenberg Castle on the Schloßberg (center right); Beyond the Schloßberg , the Bromsberg can be seen with a warrior memorial


  • 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. 177–182.
  • Rudolf Knappe: Medieval castles in Hessen. 800 castles, castle ruins and fortifications. 3. Edition. Wartberg-Verlag, Gudensberg-Gleichen 2000, ISBN 3-86134-228-6 , p. 83.
  • Rolf Müller (Ed.): Palaces, castles, old walls. Published by the Hessendienst der Staatskanzlei, Wiesbaden 1990, ISBN 3-89214-017-0 , p. 336.

Web links

Commons : Schloss Spangenberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Returning from the field seriously wounded, he became head of the Veckerhagen forestry office in Reinhardswald after the war and was a member of the examination committee for senior forest officials in Hesse.