When travelling to Braunfels Germany, it is impossible not to notice the marvelous architectural wonder that is the Braunfels Castle (Schloss Braunfels). Like a living fairytale world, Castle Braunfels mesmerizes its visitors with its unique and extraordinary combination of medieval gothic and baroque style architecture, breathtaking sights, and wondrous collection of artifacts.
Braunfels Castle, or Schloss Braunfels, is a castle located on the west of the health resort Braunfels in the Central Hessian Lahn-Dill-Kreis. Sitting on top of a basalt rock, it towers 100 meters (328 ft) high above the Lahn valley in Hesse, Germany.
Aside from its marvelous castle, the town of Braunfels is also renowned for its spa tourism. So whether you are a tourist who wants to relax, learn about history, and discover wonderful sights, or someone who’s looking for a location for any special occasion, it’s really a great place to consider!
Schloss Braunfels has been around for about 800 years, and has quite a long history that goes with it.The town and stately seat was first mentioned in 1246, in Germany’s late Gothic era. It has had its own town rights since 1607. Some parts of it were destroyed in the past, and was almost completely destroyed in 1679 because of a terrible fire that burned down the castle and town. It has received several additions and reconstructions due to these events, and has since changed its appearance several times over the centuries.
First documented in 1246 as Castellum Bruninvels, it used to be a stronghold that served as defense from the Counts of Nassau. It then became the residence for the Counts of Solms in 1280. Count Heinrich Trajektin was the one who had the castle rebuilt after the fire in 1679.
Between the 17th and 18th century, the castle underwent renovation by Count Wilhelm Moritz. This is considered as the most extensive expansion and modification the castle had gone through. It was also during this time when the baroque elements of the architectural design of the castle were added.
In 1845, the castle again underwent renovation at the hands of the “Hunter Prince” Ferdinand. Parts of it were rebuilt in the Gothic Revival style, and this is when the castle’s famous Knights Hall was added.
35 years later, in the year 1880, the castle underwent yet another renovation by Prince George. The prince gave the castle its distinguishing shape and the towers with many specific external bay windows called oriels. Since then, the castle has remained the same. The castle is still owned by the counts of Oppersdorff and Solms-Braunfels in the 21st century.
Notable Locations in Braunfels Castle
One might argue that every nook and corner of the castle is worth mentioning and studying about, and it is definitely true. However there are places in the castle with a lot of historical value and significance. Here are some of the most notable locations in the Braunfels Castle.
Located in the Long Building of the castle, the Family Museum is accessible individually by coin slot. With an extensive display of medieval weapons, art collections, coins, medals, garments and a collection of Bohemian glass from the Dukes of Solms, the museum is definitely worth a visit.
The Knight’s Hall was opened on July 29, 1847, on the 40th birthday of Princess Ottilie. It served as a birthday present from Prince Ferdinand, and this is also where the celebration was held. Nowadays it serves as a museum, showcasing various medieval weapons and armors that were used in the 19th century, adorned with beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
Forsthaus Tiergarten is a wildlife park and zoo created in 1704 by Wilhelm Moritz Graf of Solms-Braunfels. It showcases wild boar, fallow deer and mouflon. The day pass to this park is absolutely free. This place can also be arranged to serve as a venue for special occasions. Forsthaus Tiergarten has a hall that can house up to 150 people, making it a great location for celebrations like wedding receptions and the like.
Braunfels Castle also has a church where, even to this day, weddings (Protestant or Catholic) can be arranged for couples who want to get married there and add some magic to their special day. The festivities can then commence in either the Schloss-Cafe or in Forsthaus Tiergarten, with a hall that can accommodate up to 150 guests. Now this is the very definition of a dream wedding!
If you are planning on getting married in this wonderful location, you can contact them on this website.
Other than these, the castle also has rooms like the Altenberger rooms and the Gothic room that have their own exhibits.
Art and Collections
Aside from being the architectural feat and tourist attraction that it already is, the castle also serves partially as a museum for visitors. It contains a vast collection of artworks, antique furniture, tapestry and artefacts that go way back in time, from 13th to the 19th century- almost as old as the castle itself. One artifact is even said to go back as far as the 3rd millennium BC.
The Knight’s Hall, as mentioned earlier, contains weapons for stabbing, striking, and firing, as well as armour sets for both warriors and horses from the middle ages all the way to the Baroque period. The oldest known artifacts on the display are a gothic and a chainmail, dating back to the Crusades. The chainmail consists of 60,000 small rings, and smithing it could have taken around 1-2 years to complete.
The Altenberger rooms contain displays originally from the Altenberg monastery. These items were acquired when the princes of Solms took over the institution, during the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss 1803, also referred to in English as the Imperial Recess of 1803.
Along the staircase of the picture gallery hang oil paintings, mainly family portraits, mythological, and allegorical scenes. These paintings span several disciplines and styles, from Renaissance to Classicism and were created by Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and German masters. The staircase room also displays the bust of the 99-day German emperor and King of Prussia, Emperor Friedrich III.
There is also a tapestry room in the castle which showcases five Flemish tapestries from around 1600, all of which depict hunting and pastoral scenes.
You can see more German castles here.