Castle history

Langenburg
castrum et oppidum

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High on a mountain spur above the small river Jagst lies Langenburg Castle, whose origins date back to the Staufer period. In the 13th century, it became the ancestral seat of the important House of Hohenlohe, which was raised to the rank of imperial count in 1450 and prince in the middle of the 18th century.

Ansicht auf Schloss Langenburg

Merian-Stich um 1648

Langenburg castrum et oppidum

Langenburg is mentioned for the first time around 1226 as “Langenburg castrum et oppidum”. Since the 13th century, Schloss Langenburg has been owned by the Hohenlohe princely family and is still the residence of the Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. The castle was extended from 1235 onwards, and the two round towers date from this period. In the 15th century, the castle was converted into a fortress for firearms.

In 1610, Count Philipp Ernst inherited Langenburg, among other things, and made it his residence. Under him, the castle was expanded into a Renaissance palace with ceremonial halls and a chapel. Built between 1610 and 1627, these buildings still stand out today with their Renaissance style. The palace courtyard in particular, with its galleries, gables, altars, spiral stair towers and bell tower, is a jewel of Renaissance architecture and is considered one of the most beautiful courtyards of this period in Germany.

Between 1610 and 1616, the round Four Seasons Hall in the north-eastern “bed tower” is decorated with a unique stucco ceiling. The hall is extensively renovated in the 1970s and restored to its former glory.

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schloss-langenburg_schlossgeschichte_1226

Langenburg castrum et oppidum

Langeburg is mentioned for the first time around 1226 as “Langenburg castrum et oppidum”. Since the 13th century, Schloss Langenburg has been owned by the Hohenlohe princely family and is still the residence of the Prince of Hohenlohe-Langenburg. The castle was extended from 1235 onwards, and the two round towers date from this period. In the 15th century, the castle was converted into a fortress for firearms.

schloss-langenburg_schlossgeschichte_1610

Expansion into a Renaissance castle

In 1610, Count Philipp Ernst inherited Langenburg, among other things, and made it his residence. Under him, the castle was expanded into a Renaissance palace with ceremonial halls and a chapel. Built between 1610 and 1627, these buildings still stand out today with their Renaissance style. The palace courtyard in particular, with its galleries, gables, altars, spiral stair towers and bell tower, is a jewel of Renaissance architecture and is considered one of the most beautiful courtyards of this period in Germany.

Between 1610 and 1616, the round Four Seasons Hall in the north-eastern “bed tower” is decorated with a unique stucco ceiling. The hall is extensively renovated in the 1970s and restored to its former glory.

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Construction of the Castle Church

In 1613 the banqueting hall was completed and in 1686 a stucco ceiling was added.

Between 1617 and 1621, under Count Philipp Ernst zu Hohenlohe-Langeburg, the court and castle church is built on the Staufer foundation walls of the “ash tower”. Major renovations were carried out in 1758, 1856 and 1884. Prince Kraft has the chapel extensively renovated in 1983.

Around 1620, the Neue Tafelstube is decorated with a magnificent stucco ceiling by Johann Kuhn.

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Reconstruction in Baroque style

From 1757 to 1759, attempts were made to rebuild the building in the Baroque style. The east wing of the palace is extended in its present form and given an almost classicistic façade. The wooden bridges will be replaced by stone bridges and a new access road will be created.

Drafts from 1776 bear witness to the Baroque redesign of the upper ornamental parterre with delicate broderies and bordered borders. The construction of the fountain with parterre setting and the rose arches also date from this time. An orangery is being built at the south end.

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Mediatisation

In the course of the Mediatisation in 1806, the Hohenlohe principalities came almost entirely under Württemberg rule. Shortly after these events in 1817, the royal Württemberg court architect Johann Gottfried Klinsky submitted designs to Prince Karl Ludwig for the final structural extension and redesign of the palace and its grounds. In a manner very characteristic of the Romantic period, the oldest part of the castle, the lime tree trunk on the west side, is to be completely built over in neo-Gothic style. The project will only be realised in its current form years later. Together with a Gothic-looking tower, a landscape garden is laid out on the slopes below the castle.

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The English Royal Family

The Princely House has been associated with the English Royal Family since the 18th century. One of the first family relationships came about through Adelheid, the granddaughter of Prince Christian. She is Queen of England alongside William IV and has been called Adelaide ever since.

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The new library

Around 1820, the library is built according to the designs of court architect Klinsky. It was established during the lifetime of Princess Feodora (1807-1872), born Princess of Leiningen and half-sister of Queen Victoria of England.

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Commemoration

From 1904 to 1909, the mausoleum of the Hohenlohe-Langenburg family is built in memory of Prince Hermann’s wife Leopoldine von Baden according to plans by the Berlin architect August Bode. The funeral services of the family and the citizens of Langenburg take place here. The private princely cemetery is being built around the building at the same time.

The castle café in the Rose Garden, which opened in the spring of 1950, laid the foundation for Langenburg’s rise to become the tourist centre of the Hohenlohe region.

In 1960, the Schossmuseum was opened, making part of the castle accessible to the public.

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A devastating major fire

In the night of 23. to the 24 January 1963 a devastating fire is caused by a defective chimney; the entire east wing and parts of the north wing burn out. This means that the main residential tract of the princely family, including all the historically valuable furniture and paintings, falls victim to the flames. The damage devours several million D-marks. In addition, irretrievable testimonies from the generations-long history of the princely house have been missing ever since. Reconstruction begins the following spring and is completed in the summer of 1966. Weikersheim Palace has to be sold to finance the reconstruction.

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Visit of the Queen

On 24 May 1965, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip, who are on a state visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, visit Langenburg Castle during a private detour. Princess Margarita, the grandmother of the present Prince, was Prince Philip’s eldest sister.

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Deutsches Automuseum (The German Car Museum)

In 1969, Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Langenburg and the well-known motor sports journalist and racing driver Richard von Frankenberg decide to convert the castle’s stables into a showroom for exclusive automobiles. On 20 March 1970, the German Automuseum Schloss Langenburg opened its doors as one of the first classic car museums in Germany. Due to the great interest shown by visitors, an extension to the two-storey museum hall with a surrounding gallery was built in 1972 in order to be able to present more exhibits.

1985 Prince Kraft welcomes numerous friends and family members to Langenburg Castle on 25 June. In addition to the Spanish Queen Sophia, the Greek royal couple Constantin and Anne-Marie, Prince Philip and Princess Anne also mingle with the guests.

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The Baroque Garden

The garden of Langenburg Castle, which has been preserved in the Baroque style for centuries, was renovated according to old plans and rededicated in 1994. The Orangery will be open for weddings and celebrations. Since 2004, one of the largest garden fairs in southern Germany, the Fürstliche Gartentage, has been held on the first weekend in September, giving visitors the opportunity to wander through the baroque splendour once a year.

A jewel of Renaissance architecture

From 1757 to 1759, attempts were made to rebuild the building in the Baroque style. The east wing of the palace is extended in its present form and given an almost classicistic façade. The wooden bridges will be replaced by stone bridges and a new access road will be created.

Drafts from 1776 bear witness to the Baroque redesign of the upper ornamental parterre with delicate broderies and bordered borders. The construction of the fountain with parterre setting and the rose arches also date from this time. An orangery is being built at the south end.

In the course of the Mediatisation in 1806, the Hohenlohe principalities came almost entirely under Württemberg rule. Shortly after these events in 1817, the royal Württemberg court architect Johann Gottfried Klinsky submitted designs to Prince Karl Ludwig for the final structural extension and redesign of the palace and its grounds. In a manner very characteristic of the Romantic period, the oldest part of the castle, the lime tree trunk on the west side, is to be completely built over in neo-Gothic style. The project will only be realised in its current form years later. Together with a Gothic-looking tower, a landscape garden is laid out on the slopes below the castle.

Ex Flammis Orior

In the night of 23. to the 24 January 1963 a devastating fire is caused by a defective chimney; the entire east wing and parts of the north wing burn out. This means that the main residential tract of the princely family, including all the historically valuable furniture and paintings, falls victim to the flames. The damage devours several million D-marks. In addition, irretrievable testimonies from the generations-long history of the princely house have been missing ever since. Reconstruction begins the following spring and is completed in the summer of 1966. Weikersheim Palace has to be sold to finance the reconstruction.

On 24 May 1965, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philipp, who are on a state visit to the Federal Republic of Germany, visit Langenburg Castle during a private detour and are shown the reconstruction work by Prince Kraft. Princess Margarita, the grandmother of the present Prince, was Prince Philip’s eldest sister.

Aerial photos of the burnt-out Langenburg Castle

Schloss Langenburg, 1963

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