Wolfenbüttel Castle

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The lock
Aerial view of the castle

The Castle Wolfenbüttel in Wolfenbüttel is the second largest preserved castle in Lower Saxony . The extensive four-wing complex of the original moated castle served the Dukes of Braunschweig-Lüneburg from 1283 to 1754 as Wolfenbütteler residence . The castle was destroyed several times by attacks and sieges. The appearance of the castle changed several times even after numerous renovations and additions. Today the castle is used by the high school in Wolfenbüttel Castle , the Federal Academy for Cultural Education and the Castle Museum.

Building description and building history

Merian - copperplate engraving 1654

Originally, today's castle was a moated castle, first attested in 1074 and built by Widekind von Wolfenbüttel at a ford across the Oker . The small settlement of Wulferisbuttle already existed in the swampy Oker meadows . It was located on a trade route from the Rhine to the Elbe, which merchants and pilgrim monks used to travel between the dioceses of Halberstadt and Hildesheim .

When Gunzelin von Wolfenbüttel refused to take the oath of homage to Duke Albrecht I in 1255 , he pulled against the castle and destroyed it. Duke Heinrich der Wunderliche had the ducal moated castle rebuilt in 1283. The castle floor plan, the moat and the lower parts of the castle tower with the castle dungeon are still preserved from this time . Around 1350 the castle became the residence of the Guelphs from Braunschweig. Another destruction took place in 1542 when the princes of the Schmalkaldic League conquered the castle complex. Reconstruction only began in 1553. Duke Heinrich the Younger had a new residential palace built. The former residential tower was then converted into a castle chapel. Following the Italian model, arcades were built into the castle courtyard from 1575 .

The castle used to have several towers, some of which still have foundations today. The Hausmannsturm as the highest tower was built in 1613 by the ducal master builder Paul Francke in the Renaissance style. This tower still stands today. In 1642 August the Younger moved into the castle as Duke, which had been damaged by the Thirty Years War. He later had a library set up there. Between 1690 and 1697 there were major renovations in the palace. The ballrooms were converted into princely living spaces. In the Baroque era , the palace received a new half-timbered facade from 1714–1716 under the master builder Hermann Korb . The stone entrance portal and the sculptures on the bridge and along the moat also date from this period. The sculptures come from the Austrian sculptor Franz Finck and are supposed to embody the virtues and duties of the dukes.

Well-known residents and guests

View around 1820

The Protestant composer Michael Praetorius first entered the service of Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel in 1595 as chamber secretary . As court organist, he also worked here on the Gröninger palace organ, which was completed in 1596. In 1604 Praetorius received the title of court conductor. The popular text version of the second stanza as well as the most famous movement of the popular Christmas carol Es ist ein Ros sprung was created by Praetorius in 1609.

From 1641 to 1643 the engraver Conrad Buno was assigned a room of his own at Wolfenbüttel Castle by August the Younger ; During this period he created several images of the prince.

After the ducal court was moved from Wolfenbüttel to Braunschweig in 1753, the palace stood empty. When Gotthold Ephraim Lessing accepted a job as a librarian at the Bibliotheca Augusta in 1770 , the Duke gave him a few rooms on the second floor of the vacant castle as an apartment. Lessing spent more than five years in the representative and ducal equipped rooms. After the wedding with Eva König in 1776, the couple moved into the Meißnerhaus (Wolfenbüttel) in the immediate vicinity of the castle, in 1777 into the Schäffersche Haus, later called Lessinghaus. During this time u. a. the works of Emilia Galotti (1772) and Nathan the Wise (1779).


Portal of the castle

The ducal residential palace of the Guelphs was one of the most important political and cultural centers in Northern Germany for more than three centuries (1432–1754).

Wolfenbüttel has a theater tradition that goes back over 400 years. In the 16th century, Duke Heinrich Julius founded Germany's first standing theater in the palace . At that time there were no permanent theaters in Germany. The regular theater group with English professional actors earned Heinrich-Julius and the city of Wolfenbüttel the reputation of being the founder of German theater.

School in the castle

The Anna Vorwerk School was founded in 1866 as an all-girls school. The Gymnasium im Schloss (GiS) has been a mixed school since 1969 , and at times was one of the ten largest grammar schools in Lower Saxony.


The representative rooms, designed between 1690 and 1740, form the heart of the museum in Wolfenbüttel Castle. In addition to the state apartments with their authentic examples of princely living and dining culture from the age of absolutism , the museum offers a large number of objects from bourgeois life over the past three hundred years. After the fire in the school's language laboratory, the restored rooms next to the Hausmannsturm were used to expand the museum.

Federal Academy for Cultural Education Wolfenbüttel e. V.

Since 1991, the north wing of the palace has also housed the event and administration rooms of the Wolfenbüttel Federal Academy for Cultural Education .


The “KulturSommer”, Wolfenbüttel's open-air festival in the summer months, presents national and international artists from across all cultural sectors in the unique atmosphere of the palace courtyard.

The amateur theater association "kleine bühne Wolfenbüttel eV" performs various pieces in the palace courtyard during the summer season and in the theater all year round. In the summer months, music by Michael Praetorius or other composers, performed by the Wolfenbüttel trombone choir, resounds from the Hausmannsturm on Saturdays .

The changing of the ducal palace guards takes place four times a year in the palace courtyard. This changing of the guard is performed by the association Die Wolfenbüttler eV in costumes that are modeled on the guard uniform from the Baroque period.

Once a month there is a guided tour of the “Ducal Dance Master de la Marche” in the rooms of the museum. This tour is carried out in a historical costume that is modeled on clothing from the Baroque period.


The only high baroque state apartments in Lower Saxony can be found in the castle. The renaissance hall on the ground floor can be used for events. The building was one of the filming locations of the 2011 film The Big Dream .

Castle area

The Herzog August Library , the Lessing House , the Armory and the Small Castle are in the immediate vicinity of the castle .

See also


  • Peter Albrecht, Simon Paulus: Hermann Korb and his time. Baroque building in the Principality of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel. Edited by the Museum im Schloss Wolfenbüttel and the Department of Building History at the Technical University of Braunschweig, Appelhans, Braunschweig 2006. ISBN 3-937664-51-3 .
  • Horst Appuhn: Wolfenbüttel Castle ( Large Architectural Monuments , Issue 183). Munich / Berlin 1964.
  • Grote, Hans-Henning et al. Employees: Wolfenbüttel Castle. Residence of the Dukes of Braunschweig and Lüneburg. Appelhans Verlag, Braunschweig 2005. ISBN 3-937664-32-7 .
  • Rolf Hagen : Wolfenbüttel Castle (Large Architectural Monuments, Issue 325). 2nd edition, Munich / Berlin 1986.
  • Hans Adolf Schultz : Burgen und Schlösser des Braunschweiger Land , Braunschweig 1980, Das Schloss Wolfenbüttel , pp. 62–65.

Web links

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

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Paul Zimmermann:  Buno, Konrad . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 47, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1903, p. 368 f.
  2. Lessing's biography in the Lessing portal of the Lessing Academy Wolfenbüttel

Coordinates: 52 ° 9 ′ 45.8 ″  N , 10 ° 31 ′ 47.6 ″  E