Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen

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Perched atop a steep cliff, nestled in between the town of Sigmaringen and the Danube River, Schloss Sigmaringen (Sigmaringen Castle) is a fairy tale come to life.

The brightly-colored roofs lead the eye past the surrounding mountains to the sky, in the town of Sigmaringen, located in Baden-Württemberg, southern Germany.

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen
 
Sigmaringen Castle is the largest of all the castles in the Danube Valley, and, with 480 rooms, the second largest in Germany. As magnificent as the exterior is, the interior is equally stunning.

It’s well worth visiting, for its beauty, extraordinary art, incredible architecture and interior design, impressive armory, and interesting history.

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen

But let's step back in time, to around 1077, the year in which Sigmaringen Castle was first mentioned in print, via the Chronicle of Petershausen (interested in reading more of these chronicles? Here's a rabbit hole of goodness for you – those monks were crafty AND funny!).

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen
 
Imagine living in medieval times, when castles were built as fortifications, and people depended on the landscape for trade – and castles played a large role in protecting such trade. Building a castle upon such a steep cliff, near a river, must have been an easy decision. The remains from the 11th century – pyramid and pitched roofs, towers and gates – show that defense was, indeed, important. 

The castle has always been inhabited by the ruling class, starting with the Swabian House of Zähringen, and followed by the Counts of Montfort, the House of Hapsburg, and a reintroduction of the relatives of the Sigmaringen line.

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen
 
How old is the castle, exactly?

Only memories lost to time know. We DO know that the oldest parts of the castle are hidden by renovations. Some of the preserved castle remains date back to around 1200 - when you walk through the gate, and explore the Great Hall and keep, you're treading upon over a thousand years of history.

Most of the current castle dates to the late 1800s, when a great fire destroyed much of the castle, and it was rebuilt.

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen
 
Since 1535, Sigmaringen Castle has been the seat of the Swabian branch of the House of Hohenzollern. Heirs of the House of Hohenzollern have served as advisors to emperors and leaders, as a Prime Minister of Prussia, as Princes of Romania, and other important leadership roles. The Hohenzollern family now works hard to promote culture and tourism.

What can visitors see?

Well, first note that only guided tours are available, and must be pre-booked. The tours are limited to 40 people, and last an hour. Most tours are in German, although foreign language tours (English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian) are available by booking in advance. There are also foreign language guides, if you are taking a German language tour.

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen
 
Let’s start with the Armory, one of the largest in Europe. Karl Anton, Prince of Hohenzollern (1811-1885) absolutely loved the world of knights and the middle ages, and started fueling his passion by collecting ancient weaponry. Of course, like all passionate collectors, he built a special room for his collection – an armory. Today, visitors can see over 3,000 artifacts. There are many suits of armor, both practical and more decorative ones. 

Weapons in the armory include crossbows, two-handed swords, pikes, and more, as well as the personal armor of the Hohenzollern family. Strikingly, the scope of the armory includes the entirety of battle, including horses and musicians (who were often utilized to motivate soldiers in battle, and signal orders).

One young visitor to the Armory recently remarked, “It’s like being part of The Game of Thrones!” Indeed.

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen
 
Karl Anton had no idea of the global treasure on his hands when he granted permission for Friedrich Müller to leave the province. 

A bit of backstory, first. In medieval times, the water was often not safe to drink. So of course, people made beer! Sigmaringen was a perfect place to grow the ingredients for beer – barley, wheat, and hops – and, of course, fresh water. 

The royal brewery of Sigmaringen Castle granted royal licenses to brew beer. Today, you can see the old brewery on site – and have a beer in the café, of course. 

But let’s get back to one of the royal brewers, Müller. He wanted to pursue his craft in a new land, and left for the USA, with some of Sigmaringen’s special brewer’s yeast. With a name change and new business in a new land, today Milwaukee’s Miller Brewing Company is a leader in the global beer industry, and still using a descendant of that precious royal yeast for some of its brews. 

At the castle café, order a locally brewed “Old Fred” amber lager (along with a slice of gingerbread, baked by the royal confectioner), and raise your glass to history, one man’s entrepreneurialism, and the prince who believed in him.

Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen

The guided tours dive deep into the breadth of the castle and family’s history, from the personal stories of people who helped shape Europe to cultural traditions, including fashion, marriage, card playing, and daily life of royalty. 

For hundreds of years, this castle was the center of power for the European aristocracy. Walking through the grand galleries, you can imagine the voices and emotions that swam through this castle, from large political and social events to the small details of everyday life. 

Visitors can also marvel at phenomenal art created by masters (look up!), bathrooms, furniture, porcelain collections, carriages in the royal stables, and, for those that love archaeology, a pre- and ancient history museum section, which has artifacts from the Stone Age until around 700AD.
 
Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen

Want to explore more?

Try scheduling your visit for the special Picnic at the Palace events, held on August 19 at 3:00 and September 8 at 2:30.

The French nobility discovered the fun of picnicking as early as the 17th century. In England, the picnic was indie popular under Queen Victoria, who liked to eat outdoors. Discover testimonials of courtly table culture on a guided tour of the castle and learn more about the relationship of the House of Hohenzollern to the English royal family. Following the tour, a small picnic with a castle view takes place on the Danube. In bad weather, the picnic takes place in the Lakaienhalle. Please bring your own blanket.

Time:  120 Minutes
Price:  38 € Adults, 34 € Children
Includes Entry, Tour, Picnic, and drinks and games
To Reserve, email: besichtigung[at]hohenzollern.com

Check the website for other special events, including group tours, tours for children, concerts, and even a picnic at the palace. If you visit during the Advent season, you’ll discover historical yuletide traditions, including upside down Christmas trees!
 
Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen

Learn more:

schloss-sigmaringen.de/

 

Details:

Location:

Schloss Sigmaringen
Schlossbesichtigung
Karl-Anton-Platz 8
D-72488 Sigmaringen
Phone: +49(0)7571 729-230
Fax: +49(0)7571 729-255

Hours:

Sigmaringen Castle is open each day between March and  December (except 24th, 25th, and 31st December). Tours are taken every 20-30 minutes. The last tour starts at 5pm in summer, 4pm in winter.

Summer season: April until October: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Winter season: November, December and March: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Accessibility:

The tour is not handicap accessible, due to the age of the castle

Additional information:

No photography is allowed inside the castle
There is an onsite gift shop
After your tour, explore the grounds to get an idea of the scope of the castle – and excellent photo opps!
 
Travel Back in Time at Schloss Sigmaringen

 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Schloss Sigmaringen

 

 

 

 

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