Wartburg castle is located near the town of Eisenach, in Thuringia state, central Germany. The castle was built in 1070 by the count of Schauenburg, Ludwig der Springer. The castle was later enlarged, and renovated in the 18th century. The Wartburg was the seat of the Thuringian landgraves until 1440.
It was the scene in 1207 of the Sängerkrieg, a contest of minnesingers in which Heinrich von Ofterdingen, Wolfram von Eschenbach, and Walther von der Vogelweide, among others, took part and which Richard Wagner used (with some poetic license) as the setting for a famous scene in the opera Tannhäuser.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary lived in Wartburg until 1227. In 1521, Martin Luther was brought to the castle for his protection by the elector of Saxony, and there he completed his translation of the New Testament. In 1817 the first general assembly of the Burschenschaften, the nationalist German student organizations, met at Wartburg castle.
The Romanesque Palace or Great Hall is the oldest part of the castle and architecturally is the most impressive of the buildings. Besides the chapel, it contains the Sängersaal or Hall of the Minstrels and the Festsaal or the Feast or Festival Hall.The Knights’ House on the western side of the drawbridge is half-timbered, and dates back to the 15th century.
The castle has two towers. The South Tower was originally erected in 1318 and it is the only tower preserved of the medieval castle. The castle keep was finished in 1859, incorporating the foundations of its medieval predecessor.
The Rüstkammer, (the armory of the Wartburg castle, used to contain a magnificent collection of about 800 pieces of armors.
In 1999 UNESCO added Wartburg Castle to the World Heritage List.
(photo: Robert Scarth, Ingo2802)