Today Family History

The History of Hohenzollern Castle

View of the court yard, around 1830
The first mention of the House of Hohenzollern dates back to the year of 1061. Their ancestral seat, however, was first documented not until 1267 as “Castro Zolre”. The appearance, extent and furnishings of the original castle supposedly built in the first half of the 11th century are unknown. It must have been a vast complex though since contemporary sources described it as “the crown of all castles in Swabia” and “the most fortified house in the German territories.

In 1423 it was completely destroyed after a nine months siege by 18 Swabian imperial towns. From 1454 a second castle was constructed even larger and more defiant than before. During the 30-years-war, however, it was once more taken and owners changed repeatedly. Finally, it was only used as a military base by the Austrians and fell into ruins towards the end of the 18th century.

Eventually in summer of 1819 the Prussian crown prince and future king Frederick William IV. (1795-1861) visited the seat of his ancestors and decided to have it reconstructed. After a long period of planning and political turbulence this was carried out according to the ideas and designs by the historian Rudolf Count Stillfried (1804-1882) and the architect Friedrich August Stüler (1800-1865). The result was one of the most impressive neo gothic castles in Germany, rather intended to be a family memorial than a residence.

The reconstructed castle; postcard around 1900
From 1952 on Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia (1907-1994) started to furnish the castle with a multitude of valuable works of art and memorabilia dedicated to the history of Prussia and its rulers. The high costs of maintenance and renovations are met by the owners, the heads of the Prussian and the Swabian family branch, themselves which turns out to be a permanent challenge. Therefore, each visitor also contributes to the conservation and preservation of Hohenzollern Castle, a heritage landmark and symbol of the German history.

Ulrich Feldhahn
© 2007 Hohenzollern Castle