Wartburg Castle has towered over the town of Eisenach in West Thuringia for almost one thousand years. Perched on a rocky precipice, the medieval fortress with its two mighty keeps is impressive enough but there are certainly castles of greater stature. What makes Wartburg Castle so fascinating is its history, which is closely interwoven with that of Germany itself.
Whilst the establishment of the castle – believed to have been in the year 1067 – merely reflected the territorial expansion of the time, the main castle building with its imposing Romanesque architecture was a statement by the Thuringian landgraves, who used the building to proclaim their territorial rights and to assert their status as princes under imperial authority. It served as a prototype for other aristocratic dynasties looking to express their eminence through architecture. By around 1200, Landgrave Hermann I's famous "court of the muses" at Wartburg Castle had become the cradle of German national literature, as recounted in poetry and in the legend of the minnesingers' contest. Richard Wagner used these events as well as the historical character of Landgravine Elisabeth of Thuringia as inspiration for his Tannhäuser opera.
Wartburg Castle is also regarded as the cradle of the modern German language as it was the setting for Martin Luther's New Testament translation in 1521/22.
The Wartburg Festival of 1817, organised by the student fraternities, celebrated the achievements of Luther, the Reformation and the Battle of Leipzig. It was the first popular declaration of sentiment for a unified and independent nation state. Having undergone extensive historical restoration, Wartburg Castle is now a popular visitor attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
March to October
Guided tours 8.30am – 5pm
Castle shuts at 8pm
November to February
Guided tours 9am – 3.30pm
Castle shuts at 5pm
24 Dec, last guided tour begins at 11am
31 Dec, last guided tour begins at 2pm