Altenburg Fortress, also known as Altenburg Castle (Schloss Altenburg Bamberg) is a medieval fortress (castle), which is one of the most striking and important sights of the German city of Bamberg.
Altenburg is located in the western part of the city, on the highest (386 meters above sea level) of the seven hills of Bamberg. From the observation terraces and from the tower of the fortress there are wonderful panoramic views of the city of Bamberg and the surrounding area.
Also, due to its location, Altenburg Castle is clearly visible from some points of Bamberg.
The first mention of Altenburg dates back to the beginning of the 12th century, although, most likely, since the 9th century there was some uninhabited strategic fortification at this place, which served mainly as a refuge for bishops and townspeople.
Altenburg was first mentioned in 1109 in a document according to which Bishop Otto I von Bamberg gave the castle to the collegiate monastery of St. Jacob. From 1305 to 1553, the fortress was the second residence (the first: The old courtyard in the city center) of the Prince-Bishops of Bamberg. The fortress experienced a special flourishing during the reign of Bishop George III. At the expense of the bishops, the fortress was rebuilt and decorated; thus, in its current size, Altenburg was built at the beginning of the 15th century.
In 1524-1525, Altenburg Castle was besieged by rebellious peasants, but was not captured or seriously damaged.
On May 27, 1553, during the Second Margraviate War, the castle was handed over to the army of Albrecht Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Kulmbach, nicknamed the "wild Margrave", by a bonded deal signed by the bishop. His army looted, destroyed and partially burned the castle. After that, only the three-storey central tower-the 13th century donjon and part of the castle wall remained from the castle.
After this event, the fortress stood in a ruined state for a long time; it was periodically used as a prison. During the reign of Archbishops Lothar Franz and Friedrich Karl of the Schoenborn family, between 1693 and 1746, the restoration of the fortress began according to the plans of the architect Johann Dinzenhofer. At the end of the 18th century, part of the fortress walls was destroyed by a landslide.
The outstanding German physician Friedrich Adalbert Marcus bought the castle on July 4, 1801, after which another important chapter in the history of Altenburg began, because Marcus spared no expense to restore the fortress and devoted himself to its preservation. Under Marcus, his friend, the writer Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, stayed in the guest room of the fortress from 1808 to 1813, whose life in the fortress is now reminiscent of the name of the living room "Hoffmann's Closet" (E.T.A. Hoffmann-Klause).
After the death of Marcus in 1816, since 1818, the Association of Historical Monuments took over the fate of Altenburg, and the royal caretaker, A.V. Grafstein, led the restoration process.
Today, the Altenburg fortress is not medieval in the literal sense of the word, it has been restored on the preserved parts and is a complex of buildings in the historical style, surrounded by a wall with towers.
The fortress is accessible to everyone.
Passage to the fortress is possible by a bridge over a small moat.
In the passage behind the arched gates of the fortress, you can see the chapel and the memorial stone to Adalbert von Babenberg.
On the small territory of the fortress there are buildings, including the main palace of 1902 and a restaurant called "Altenburg Restaurant". The original interior has been preserved in the Knight's Hall of the restaurant. The mural on the west side representing the tournament is the work of the artist Wilhelm Reutter. One of the riders represents the former second mayor of Bamberg.
Restaurant website: restaurant-altenburg.
The well of 1893
Hoffman 's Comet
One of the most attractive buildings is the 33-meter observation tower of the 13th century.
An iron basket hangs on the tower, which is supposed to have served as a danger signal transmitter. However, since the exact purpose of the basket has not been proven, it can also be assumed that the bonfire basket is part of the reconstruction period around 1900 and was probably used for lighting and performances.
The upper platform of the tower can be reached by a spiral staircase. The tower's platform offers panoramic views of the castle grounds, the city of Bamberg and the surrounding area.
The fortress wall of Altenburg.
In the corner wall tower of the fortress there is a former bear cage, in which from 1952 to 1982 lived the last castle brown bear Poldi, who guarded Altenburg.
The terraces of the fortress wall offer wonderful panoramic views of Bamberg and the surrounding area.
A sandstone lion on the east wall of the castle
There are also viewing platforms and a sculptural crucifix on the territory near the fortress.
Plan of the Altenburg Fortress
Various festivals and events are held throughout the year in the courtyard of the fortress, including a summer wine festival. Services are sometimes held in the chapel of the fortress.
The Altenburg Fortress is located on a hill, at a distance of about 3 kilometers from the historical center of Bamberg. You can walk; get there by car, there are Parking spaces near the entrance to the fortress (Rent a car in Bamberg →) or a sightseeing bus-tram with a sightseeing tour of the city.
You can also visit the Altenburg Fortress and learn its history with a guided tour
Coordinates of the Altenburg Fortress: 49°52'50.0"N 10°52'09.0"E (49.880556, 10.869167).
Altenburg Fortress website: altenburgverein.
All accommodation facilities in Bamberg, including in the historical center of the city and more remotely from it, can be viewed and booked here