My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology

  Some More Castles in Thuringia - An Overview

I spent a week visiting the towns of Erfurt, Jena, and Weimar. Two days I went hiking to some castles in the surroundings. Here are some first impressions (posts about the towns of Erfurt, Jena, and Weimar, and more detailed portraits of the castles will follow).

Castle Gleichen near Erfurt

Some ten miles west of Erfurt, three hills of almost identical conic shape rise in the Thuringinan Basin, and each of them has a castle on top: Burg Gleichen, Mühlburg and Wachsenburg. The castles itself are pretty different, though.

(BTW, Google Maps got the location of Castle Gleichen totally wrong. It is several miles away from the second castle, the Mühlburg.)

Castle Gleichen, the keep

Castle Gleichen is the largest of the three. It is first mentioned in a charte dating to 1088 and was used as residence by the counts of Gleichen until the 16th century. The remains range from Romanesque to Renaissance buildings.

Inner bailey with old hall (left) and the chancelry

The castle is connected with the legend of a Count of Gleichen who was happily married to a noble lady. But then he went to a crusade, was captured by the Turks and rescued by a beautiful sultana whom he promised to marry. They went to the pope in Rome to get a dispens and then returned home. The first wife must have been a model of all female virtues, because she didn't throw a fit but instead welcomed the beautiful rival, and all three lived happily ever after.

Detail shot of the 16th century arcades

The top of the hill has been flattened during the various changes in the layout of the castle, therefore the inner bailey is unusually large. There once were more buildings than today, mostly made of timber.

The old hall, interior

It was a fine day for hiking, warm and dry, and often sunny, though some clouds made for pretty dramatic photos, like the one of the Mühlburg below.

Castle Mühlburg near Erfurt

The Mühlburg is smaller, but its history is equally interesting (albeit lacking legends about beautiful sultanas). Most of the remains date to the mid-14th century. Significant traces of the fortifications remain; the trenches are still visible in parts, and the Mühlburg had a zwinger.

Remains of some buildings

Since the castle is close to the village of Mühlberg, it is a fine destination for a little family afternoon out, especially on a Sunday. There is a booth selling beverages and ice cream, and yes, Köstritzer dark beer and chocolate ice cream do go together. I earned myself both, lol.

The zwinger

The Wachsenburg, which today houses a hotel, has been altered most, so I wasn't that interested in going there as well. It took me a day to cover the other two, after all. Luckily I got a ride back to Erfurt.

Castle Lobedburg near Jena

Castle Lobdeburg near Jena ist not a large castle, but it must have been impressive once due to its compact structures along the steep slope; the remains still are. The interior of the middle bailey is closed off because of the danger of falling stones, and the lower bailey is under repair. I managed to sneak through a gap in the fence to take some photos, though.

Lobdeburg, the lower bailey

The Lobdeburg dates to the 12th century. The castle was inhabited until the end of the 16th century, afterwards it was used as quarry until the Lobdeburg Society started to take care of the ruins about hundred years ago.

Remains of the middle bailey

The walk around the ruins is a bit of an adventure path right now. I was glad for my trusty walking staff. But I got some good looks on the fine Romanesque windows and other features.

The Fuchsturm (Fox Tower) near Jena

The Fox Tower is the only remaining part of another castle near Jena. There was a chain of three castles on the Hausberg ridge in the 12th century; Castle Kirchberg was the most important of them. They were destroyed in 1304 and never restored except for the Fox Tower.
Fascinating legend about the Gleich Lord and his two ladies.

Thanks for sharing all of these castles.

Great pictures, and interesting commentary.

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The Lost Fort is a travel journal and history blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, as well as some geology, illustrated with photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.
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Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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