Hohenzollern Castle Photo #2

Last Updated:  16 Nov 2004

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History of  Burg [Fortress / Castle] Hohenzollern


Family von Zollern and Hohenzollern Families

No records have been found which give us what the original structure or structures were.

The family historicans believe an earlier fortress was built here by the Romans, who may have built where an ancient religious shrine may have exsisted.  A high hill in an area would have been an excellent site for such a site.  After the Romans, Charlemagne's may have garrison his troops on this same hill.  The foundation stones of the Chapel of St. Michael indicates this may be true. Later in the time Emperor Henry I "the Fowler" of the Saxon Dynasty (919-936) requested such fortresses be built and this meant reconstruction of a other fortress, like the one on this same hill.  There were similar orders by Emperors who followed who wanted to strengthen his position. Military garrison? At sometime between Henry I and the 11th c. the Zollern claimed ownership of this fortress/ castle..

Ill.2 Hohenzollern Castle, near Tuebingen, Ba.-Wu - 1991  

The road spirals upward through the many gates to the main grounds of the fortress / castle.

From this angel you can see how well protected the Castle was.Historians love to discuss how the family became known as "Zollern".  There are several suggestions. All are just theories:  One is:  The family fortress/castle may have been built on the site of a Roman fortress  known as Zoller which may have replaced an ancient shrine of a German cult of sun worshippers which the Romans called "mons solarius". Was it original spelled Zoll or Zoell which could be spelled as Zell? In Latin "Zell" simple refers to an isolated place. "Solis is Latin for a "sunny place".  Another less romantic theory is:  The fortress/castle belonged to a family who collected taxes  ["zoll" = toll] from travelers and traders  who passed through this valley. Another thought: In German the word "zoller" describes something "high up" like a balcony loft. Nothing as grand as "on high" [hohen], but in time the family would add this to their name.....  

Remember,  surnames were not adopted until the 11th c. to 16th c. and in some countries not until legal documents began to find the need of a surname in the 19th c.

The family name was established as the  family  of [von] Zollern [Zolorin, Zolre] Fortress /Castle on the Hill in the Hechingen area of old Swabia. And the first recorded family member was Count Burchard I et Wezil de Zolorin who died 1061.

In the 10th c. when Count Burchardt I lived,  he was already on the social ladder and, as I've already stated, he had given his service s to his Emperor Frederick I "Barbarossa" von Hohenstaufen.  His son and grandson, probably, continued some kind of service to the Emperor's son, Henry IV (1056-1106).

Burchard I's grandson, Frederick III, became Frederick I, Burgrave of Nurnemberg and the castle was taken into his son's, Conrad I's, hands.  When Conrad inherited the Nuremberg title of Burgrave, the castle became residence of Frederick IV von Zollern, founder of the Swabian line. 

In 1267  the "Zollern Castle" is mention the second time in records found in a monastry of Stetten near Hechingen.

A Strassburg chronicle embelish the tale which claimed the Zollern "castle" sat upon this hill "like a crown of all castles in Swabia".

The following chronicles of the Zollern fortress / castle tell us:  In the year 1423 the fortress/ castle fell under a ten month siege. What war was occuring in 1423?  This war was not an invasion of a foreigner but an army of brothers, Conrad I and Frederick IV.  Their dispute to it's ownership resulted in the original being completely destroyed.    

It wasn't until 1454 Count Jos Niklas von Zollern laid the foundation stone which began the reconstruction of a "castle". The fortress/castle was to be larger, stronger and impregnable with the update of bastions.

The fortress / castle became a place where  family and others found refuge in the times of the various wars but it was not impregnable as everyone believed.  In 1634 the forces of Wuerttemberg surrounded the castle for 9 months and starved out the garrison....

The ownership of the fortress / castle changed two or three times and it was Austria, who  took possessions of the Hohenzollern-Hohenberg's  fortress / castle.  Austrians thought to make use of such a fortress and  was used as their garrison during conflicts in this area.  The maintance was far too expensive when it's use as a garrison was no longer necessary. Decay started to settle. In 1771 Austria gave up it's title to he old fortress/castle.

The French revolution occured and a general by the name of Napoleon rose to Emperor of France and reshaped the German states.  

Ownership of this "castle" changed from one person to another and another... and in time the lack of money, interest and it's importance cause the grand old place to fall farther and farther into decay and neglect  until it was only a historical ruin on the Swabian Hill near Hechingen which was near Tuebingen.

It was in July of 1819 when the youthful Prussian Crown Prince, the future King Fredrich William IV, who was descendant of the von Hohenzollern who remained in Nuremberg than Electors of Brandenburg and Kings of Prussia, visited the old castle ruins where his family roots had taken hold on the old Swabian Hill.  He was "impressed" and would ordered from his purse a small sun of 10,000 Taler to prevent further decay.   Friedrich William ordered the castle to be reconstructed from old records [after 1660) found. But a small purse of a Crown Prince didn't provide the funds needed. In 1823-1827 St. Michael's Chapel had to be torn down but the Nave and chancel were restored with the grand 13th c. stained glass panes which had been part of the Zollern crypt in Stetten.... True reconstruction could  not occur until 1840  when the Crown Prince became King of Prussia. Names like Stillfried, Prittwitz and Stuehler were taken into the project. Due to the previous structure, the castle could not be reconstructed without the fortifications.  Therefore, it continued to be a fortress / castle.  The construction was delayed for a time in 1848 when a revolution occurred in Mannheim which resulted in a "Bourgeois Reformation".  King Frederick Willim IV's possessions were not lessen by the Reformation. He gained a great deal in the union, and it included the Principalities of Hechingen, which meant he was in sole possession of the family fortress/castle,  and, too, he gained other lands owned by Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.  

In 1853  the task of a magnificent fortress/castle was completed. Or was it?  King Friedrich IV gave orders for the reconstruction of a "palace".  It's corner stone was laid by him 18 Nov 1856.  It was not under King William I and his Queen Augusta held opening ceremony on 3 Oct 1867.  With them was the Prince Karl Anton von Hohenzollern-Sigmarigen and his wife who left no surviving heirs [Ext. 1869].

Time  has pasted.  Since 1867 two World Wars have taken place which resulted in the downfall of the Hohenzollern Dynasty in 1918.  So it was,  the Castle on the Hill took another downward course until 1952 when Ferdinand von Hohenzollern, known even today as a Prince of Prussia,  took an interest in the old family place which remained in the family.  He restored the old place and it's interior.  He has furnished it with valuables important not only to the family but to the history of Germany.

In 1970 and again in 1978 the castle was damaged by earthquakes, since then, the  restoration and renovation has taken place through the money of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who have visited this Hohenzollern Castle on the Hill. 

In 1991 the owners are Prince Louis Ferdinand von Pressen and Prince Friedrich Wilhelm von Hohenzollern.

Now, click "photographs" and go with Garry and I up the spiral road way that takes you upward and through the gates in 1991 and into the "palace" buildings and other sites.....

Photographs of Burg Hohenzollern

Map showing location of Burg Hohenzollern #126

Count Burchard I von Zollern