Franconian Switzerland lies in a triangle between Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Bamberg and Bayreuth. The image of this holiday region has been shaped by strange towering cliffs, idyllic orchards, romantic fortresses, enchanting caves and picturesque mills. The Castle Road passes through eleven destinations worth seeing in Franconian Switzerland: Forchheim with the "Imperial Palace", the "Heart of Franconian Switzerland" the town of Ebermannstadt, Muggendorf-Streitberg with the Bing Cave (Binghöhle), Egloffstein.... [More about Fränkische Schweiz]
Forchheim Imperial Palace
The so-called "fortified imperial palace" in Forchheim, actually a residence for the bishops of Bamberg, was built between 1350 und 1400. Owing to its 14th century wall paintings, the oldest in Franconia, the "imperial palace" is known far beyond the boundaries of Forchheim. A section of it has housed the Palatine Museum since 1911. In the next few years the building is to be expanded into a "Cultural Palace" and new museums and new facilities for a larger number of cultural activities will be available. Forchheim with its prince-bishop's residence has been a member of the Castle Road association since 1995. Delightful landscapes, romantic castles and palaces, interesting museums and cosy wine restaurants accompany the traveler along the route from Mannheim to Prague. During the early Middle Ages fortified imperial palaces were scattered all throughout the country to accommodate the kings or emperors, who did not have their own permanent residences. The king and his entire retinue traveled from imperial palace to imperial palace, carried out their official business there, and allowed the town to provide for them. Such a palace complex is also documented in Forchheim, but where it was located and what it looked like are still not known. Until recently it was believed that the palace complex was located on the site of the later bishop's palace. However, excavations have not been able to confirm this theory. The former bishop's residence was built under the Bamberg Prince-Bishop Lambert von Brunn towards the end of the 14th century. It originally consisted only of the main building (the eastern section, where the Palatine Museum is located today) and was surrounded by a water-filled moat. In the mid-16th century sections of the moat were filled in and the western, northern and southern wings erected there. This led to a complex with four wings surrounding an inner courtyard. The Forchheim palace served the bishops of Bamberg as a second residence for both official business and social purposes. In times of unrest the palace offered protection and refuge for the prince-bishops, for the strongly fortified complex in the city of Forchheim was the southernmost bulwark of the Diocese of Bamberg.
This ancient ancestral palace of the barons of Egloffstein towers on a steep rock above the village of the same name, whose picturesque groups of houses nestle into the terraced slope. Egloffstein is the pearl of the Trubach valley. An undated foundation charter from the Bamberg Cathedral Chapter names two Salmänner (legal advisors) Cunrat de Stedebach et Henricus de Hegelofuesten around 1179. In the customary language of the Bamberg bishop's chancellery, the "et" generally refers to two brothers. But the large number of Egloffstein properties around Steppach (= Stedebach from c. 1179) and Stolzenroth (both in the rural county of Bamberg) as well as the similarity of the first names also indicate a common lineage for Egloffstein and Steppach. A certain Agilolf (= Hegelof from c. 1179), who is not documented in any sources, probably built Egloffstein Castle in the second half of the 12th century. The first name Agilolf (= Hegelof from c. 1179) was still in common use by the family in the 14th century. Heinrich I, the younger brother mentioned above, appears with the Latin castle or family names Heinricus de Agilulfi Lapide once again as a Salman in 1184. The black bear's head has been part of the coat of arms since 1317. The ruins of the Egoffstein Bärnfels Castle and the Bärenthal mill on the Trubach stream are reminders of this heraldic animal. However, the castle is first mentioned in a document dated 1358, when Albrecht II von Egloffstein with his brothers Otto I and Hans III as well as his cousins Hans I von Egloffstein zu Ermreuth and Seibot II von Egloffstein zu Wolfsberg endowed it with a castle parish chapel. Albrecht II resided in Egloffstein and his brother Hans III in Kunreuth. Another member of the family, Götz von Egloffstein, resided in Leienfels and was feuding with the Diocese of Bamberg. Egloffstein Castle itself was already then a castle shared by several families of the entire lineage. Owing to the threat of a military embroilment with the bishop, the oldest of the four lines disassociated themselves from their cousin Götz in 1374. Despite this, two years later Seibot II had to open up a section of Egloffstein to the bishop. Bamberg was allowed to occupy the castle with troops in the event of war. In 1389 the Bärnfels line became subject to the expansionary pursuits of the landgrave of Leuchtenberg. In the First Margrave War 1449/50 Nuremberg forces burned down the town of Egloffstein, but they could not take the castle. In 1509 Jobst I von Egloffstein zu Artelshofen (in the Pegnitz River valley) from the Bärnfels line granted the Diocese of Bamberg authority over his lower Kemenate (heated apartment). Otto VI – also of the Bärnfels line - granted the bishopric authority over his Kemenate as well. Finally, in 1515 Hans XV von Egloffstein and in 1516 Wolf I von Egloffstein granted the bishop authority over their own Kemenaten in the last personally owned section. Hans XV and Wolf I were descendants of the Gaillenreuther line.
The ruins of Neideck Castle were once the ancestral seat of the powerful ancient family of the Schlüsselbergs, the former "managers" of today's Franconian Switzerland. Count Konrad von Schlüsselberg set up a customs house in the Wiesent River valley in 1347, thus provoking his neighbors. The Nuremberg and Würzburg bishops consequently attacked Neideck Castle and killed the Count. An anecdote tells us that he was sitting on the privy that hung over the wall precisely at the moment a catapulted stone hit it and was killed on the spot. Thereupon, the castle passed to the Bamberg bishops. In the Second Margrave War it was so badly destroyed by supporters of the Margraves of Brandenburg/Kulmbach, that it was never rebuilt. The rubble of the ruins provided a source of building material. In the 18th century Jurassic marble (fine-grained Jurassic limestone) was discovered below the castle and subsequently quarried, so that the Castle suffered even greater destruction. The Jurassic limestone was then used in the construction of the Würzburg residence.
Streitberg Castle sits across from Neideck Castle. Walter de Stritberg was the first lord of the castle in the early 12th century. The complex was strategically very important, being located precisely on a sharp bend of the Wiesent River, but like Neideck Castle it was destroyed in 1553; it was rebuilt and served as a Renaissance style palace until 1565. It was then burned down during the Thirty Years War and gradually fell into disrepair. It was last used as a quarry by the Bavarian Kingdom. Today only the castle gateway and sections of the wall can be seen. From the top you have a wonderful view of the Wiesent River valley and the ruins of Neideck Castle.
The name Gößweinstein, which was passed on to the city as well as the castle, comes from a Count by the name of Goswin, who lived here when "Gozwinstein" castle was being built in the 11th century. It is, thus, one of the oldest fortress complexes in the Franconian Switzerland area. For centuries it was the seat of the Bamberg bishopric. With the onset of secularization it came into the possession of the Kingdom of Bavaria. The barons of Sohler acquired it in 1890. The new owners modified the exterior through frequent alterations and converted it into a romantic castle with battlements and gabled roofs. The striking round tower was erected at the end of the 17th century; the medieval-looking battlements were not added until after 1890. The interior of the castle has been furnished in the Gothic style, or rather renovated in the Neo-Gothic style. The ancestors of the Sohlers are still actively involved in maintaining and preserving the castle today.
The little town of Pottenstein with its ca. 1,500 inhabitants lies bizarrely at the foot of its landmark, the over 1000-year-old Pottenstein Castle. Nowhere else in Franconian Switzerland do the typical landscape elements lie so closely together as in Pottenstein. In the valley the Old Town defended by an imposing town wall, in which all the functions of medieval town life are still present, the juniper and dry grassland heath at the precipices between the towering dolomite cliffs from the Jurassic period, with many beautiful views, on the plateaus Jurassic landscapes stretching as far as the eye can see. Pottenstein is just like one imagines Franconian Switzerland should be. As the most important vacation spot in the region the municipality has just under 1,700 beds for guests, providing accommodation for over 200,000 overnight stays per year, and day outings for innumerable guests from near and far. The facilities along the Pottenstein event mile, include first and foremost the world-renowned Teufelshöhle (Devil's Cave), one of the largest stalactite caves in Germany. Church traditions and regional identity are lived out; three breweries, many home-style restaurants, a well-functioning infrastructure for recreational activities and a diverse calendar of events ensure Pottenstein's role as a leading tourist attraction in the entire region. The total municipality has 32 districts, whereby along with Pottenstein, the rock cliff village of Tüchersfeld (also on Castle Road) is the most well known and impressive, owing solely to its topographical location. Pottenstein – a place worth visiting and spending some time in – far from the hectic and fast-moving pace of daily life. The locals have appreciated this for hundreds of years. Further information at: Tourist Information Pottenstein, Tel. 09243-70841
A noble family settled near Waischenfeld. During the investiture controversy Pope Gregory VII threatened the first member of this family, a certain Miles Wirint, along with other nobles of the Bamberg church, with excommunication in a letter dated February 17, 1079, if he did not return the church fiefs he had wrongfully received from Hermann I of Bamberg. It can be assumed that this Wirint was indeed excommunicated. Overcome by repentance, the nobilis homo Wirint de Wischenvelt entered the monastery of Michelsberg near Bamberg as a monk after 1112. In so doing he promised to bequeath his entire estate of Waischenfeld to the monastery, if his younger son Konrad should die without heirs from a marriage of equal birth. The castle itself, built on a massive triangular rock, was to be demolished … hoc predium cum urbe destruenda. (The term urbe suggests that walls already encircled the inner bailey.) But that's not what happened! In 1122, after his marriage to Agatha von Greifesbach (= today Graisbach near Monheim, Swabia), Wirint's son Konrad I redeemed the property that had already been pledged to the monastery. But according to the terms of the contract, he had to surrender his properties in Neuenhaid and Heroldsberg (both west of Waischenfeld) to the monastery in Michelsberg. After his death Wirint left the monastery six more estates. Ulrich von Waischenfeld, the last of the line, was mentioned a total of 27 times in documents between 1163 and 1216. His mother was probably an Adelsdorf-Greifenstein. As a result, when Ulrich died without a male heir, the castle and lands of Waischenfeld went to Eberhard III von Greifenstein. Immediately after Ulrich's death Eberhard had Schlüsselberg Castle built on the newly inherited property south of Waischenfeld. He called himself Eberhardus de Sluzzelberch for the first time in a document of King Friedrich II written in Nuremberg on November 25, 1219. Waischenfeld was the center of the high criminal court district. However, Eberhard III apparently did not think too highly of the military value of Waischenfeld Castle. Schlüsselberg, standing on a completely isolated rock with a long extended outer bailey, offered better defenses. Nonetheless, the main residence of the Schlüsselberg estate was later moved to Neideck Castle. The new owners even pledged Waischenfeld to Bamberg in 1243. The Schlüsselbergs naturally redeemed their residence again.
There are two old castles in Aufseß: Unteraufseß and Oberaufseß. Unteraufseß is the family seat of the "von und zu Aufseß". The castle was first mentioned in the 12th century. The name Aufseß (formerly Ufsaze) means "to sit on the rock", which describes the site of the castle. The legend of this family goes back to the year 1007, when the Knight Heinrich von Ufsaze came together with King Heinrich, later Emperor Heinrich II to Franconia.The oldest building at Unteraufseß Castle is the so-called Meingoz-stone tower from 1136. In the Middle Ages the grounds of Unteraufseß Castle were larger than today. There was a castle around the castle of today. However, there were a lot of destructions caused by wars. The 850-year-old castle in the Aufseß valley was the ancestral seat of Hans Baron von und zu Aufseß, the founder of the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg approximately 150 years ago. Tours include the castle chapel, 18th century palace church, 12th century raven tower – the oldest structure, Mingoz stone tower with the study of Hans von Aufseß, ancestral portrait gallery and salon. Weddings in the ancestral hall possible. Enjoy the atmosphere of the castle and reside for a time in one of the suites or in the guest rooms.
Schloss Unteraufseß, Baron Eckhart von Aufseß
Schlossberg (Schlossverwaltung: Am Weiher 79)
Telefon +49 (0) 91 98/ 99 82 17
Oberaufseß Castle was built by Karl Heinrich von Aufseß in 1690. This was the year where the two brothers Friedrich and Karl Heinrich from Unteraufseß went different ways, because of their religion. Friedrich remained in the Catholic family seat. His Protestant brother Karl Heinrich went to Oberaufseß located around 1,5 km north of the town. Up to the end of the 19th century the castle had five towers and the character of a fortified castle. The new tower built at the end of the 19th century upgraded the castle.
Hans Max von Aufseß, who lived in Oberaufseß until 1993 wrote a lot of essays about the "beloved Franconian Switzerland", which were published in books or illustrated books.
Today his grandchilds live together with their children and a dog in the residence of the castle, which was built around 300 years ago. Tours for groups from 10 persons possible on request. Within the area of the castle there are original and partly antiquely furnished holiday flats. Oberaufseß Castle belongs to the settings of the "Theatersommer Fränkische Schweiz" and offers a romantic setting for the performances in the "Comedia dell'Arte" style.
Schloss Oberaufseß, Cornelia von und zu Aufseß
Telefon +49 (0) 91 98/ 510
The Schenk von Stauffenberg are an old Swabian family first documented in 1262. The castle was destroyed during the Peasants' Revolt at the beginning of the 16th century and rebuilt thereafter. After the Streitbergs died out the castle was left in a desolate tumbledown condition. The Prince-Bishop Marquard Sebastian Schenk von Stauffenberg had a radical restoration done on Greifenstein from 1691 to 1693 and turned it into a Baroque palace under the direction of Leonhard Dientzenhofer. The view from the high rooms offers an overwhelming panorama over the range of hills in Franconia, in good weather all the way to the Fichtelgebirge (Spruce Mountains). The greatest impression, however, is generally made by the princely size of the weaponry collection. Three vaulted chambers house a museum full of all kinds of martial tools from the Middle Ages to the late 16th century. It is the dedicated commitment of the current owner, Otto Philipp Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, that brought about a comprehensive renovation from 1975 to 1977 funded by generous state aid, which should guarantee the continuity of the historical building. For Greifenstein represents an incomparable, centuries-old cultural monument in the Franconian Jurassic landscape.
Telefon +49 (0) 91 98/ 423
The Bamberg prince-bishops established Seehof palace as a summer residence and hunting lodge from 1687 to 1696. Becaus Prince-Bishop Marquard Sebastian Schenk von Stauffenberg commissioned the original building, the residence was also named the Marquard Castle after him. The respective bishops who resided there continued to extend the castle and in particular the park. The imposing size of today's garden with its water displays, fountains, bosquets (ornamental groves with paths) and open-air hedge theater was created under Prince-Bishop Lothar Franz von Schönborn. The horticultural climax was, however, accomplished by Prince-Bishop Adam Friedrich von Seinsheim. Between 1757 and 1779 he integrated, among others, a labyrinth and water displays and embellished the garden with over 400 stone figures by Ferdinand Tietz, the court sculptor, who was one of the most renowned sculptors of the Franconian Rococo.
After secularization in 1802 the castle became private property and rapidly fell into disrepair in the following 150 years, because its owners could not maintain the vast property. In 1975 the Free State of Bavaria acquired the castle. After extensive renovation lasting well into the 1990s, nine new stately rooms in the castle can now be viewed. The water displays and cascade have been back in operation again since 1995 as well. They can be marveled at during the summer season every hour on the hour.