In August 2022, we travel back from Berlin to Switzerland, visiting Thüringen and the Odenwald and staying with an old family friend near Heidelberg.
Now, we have walked up a steep path and stand in front of the Staufian Castle Wildenberg (Burg Wildenberg), located on a hill in the middle of the forest.
We are in the Odenwald near Amorbach; the area belongs already to Bavaria.
Source: Wikipedia entry about the Odenwald (https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odenwald#/media/Datei:Odenwald_-_Deutsche_Mittelgebirge,_Serie_A-de.png).
Above the entry gate, the coat of arms, two wheels with seven spokes and three stars in two fields, welcome us.
The castle was the seat of the noblemen of Dürn.
Ruprecht von Dürn founded the castle in 1170. He belonged to the close circle of Friedrich I Barbarossa (1155-1190). Ruprecht was from Dürn, today called Walldürn. The coat of arms of Walldürn contains a wheel with six spokes. Perhaps the wheel above the entry gate (though with seven spokes) is related to the noblemen of Dürn. I could not find anything about the stars.
The Dürn enlarged their Castle Wildenberg in 1220. In the late 13th century, the noblemen of Dürn sold the castle to the Diocese of Mainz. The Diocese installed the local administration of the territory here. The panel says that the castle was damaged during the earthquake of Basel in 1356. Interesting. Did “our” Basel earthquake reach the Odenwald, about 300km north of Basel? This is new to me – very interesting – and I could not find sources on the internet that would give me more information about that.
The castle has been a ruin since 1525. At that time the farmers burnt it down in the German Peasant’s War (Deutscher Bauernkrieg).
We enter the castle. This finely engraved column decorates the entry.
We continue to the inner courtyard separated by this wall that was added in the 15th century.
We approach the entrance to the palace (Palas) in the northern part of the castle.
The palace (Palas) is 200m2 large. On the ground floor are the winter rooms with the fireplace, about 9m2 large.
The fireplace is finely decorated.
Historians assume that Wolfram von Eschenbach wrote parts of his medieval romance Parzival here, as he emphasized that the fireplace in the Castle of the Holy Grail is much larger than the fireplace in the Castle of Wildenberg. No one at the Castle of Wildenberg had ever seen a fireplace as large as the one in the Castle of Holy Grail, he wrote in his Parzival.
The second floor of the Palas, added in 1220, is famous for the early Gothic arcade windows. They brought light into the hall that was probably used for festivities in summer.
We did not feel like leaving this beautiful place full of history.
But it is lunch time, and we are getting hungry. We take the steep path down, where our car is waiting for us. Our next target is Amorbach, where we hope to find a restaurant and where we intend to visit the famous Abbey Church of Amorbach.
- Arbeitskreis Landeskunde/Landesgeschichte RP Karlsruhe, “Ruprecht von Dürn, ein Unbekannter”, https://www.schule-bw.de/faecher-und-schularten/gesellschaftswissenschaftliche-und-philosophische-faecher/landeskunde-landesgeschichte/module/epochen/mittelalter/burgen/burg_wildenberg_im_odenwald/ab1.pdf
- Wikipedia entry for Burg Wildenberg https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burg_Wildenberg_(Kirchzell)
- Wikipedia entry for Walldürn https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walld%C3%BCrn
- Panels in the Burg Wildenberg explaining the history