About Coburg Castle
Close to the Itz River around 100km north of Nuremberg is Coburg Castle, the former seat of the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and one of Germany’s largest and most impressive surviving medieval fortress complexes.
History of Coburg Castle
Dominating the town of Coburg in Upper Franconia, it was first mentioned as ‘Koburk’ in a document from 1056 and the self-styled ‘Fränkische Krone’ or Franconian Crown is both a stunning castle as well as being home to one of the most important art and cultural history collections in Germany.
The oldest surviving part of the castle, the Blue Tower (‘Blauer Turm’) dates from 1230 but the rest of the complex dates from a post-fire 1499. In the 18th century, renowned architect and master builder of Nuremberg Karl Alexander von Heideloff renovated Coburg in the Neo-Gothic style. At the beginning of the 20th century, architect and castle historian Bodo Ebhardt went about a restoration to take it back to its original medieval look and feel.
As well as being a mightily-imposing, strategically important castle complete with huge walls, ramparts and internal and external structures, Coburg Castle is perhaps as important for the figures that have walked its halls over the last 600 years.
From April to October 1530, controversial theologian and the key figure in the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther spent six months at Coburg as an outlaw of the Holy Roman Empire during the Diet of Augsburg while he continued his work translating the bible into German.
Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was a regular visitor before his marriage to Queen Victoria and Princess Sibylla of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, mother of the current King of Sweden wed Sweden’s Prince Gustaf Adolf, Duke of Västerbotten at Coburg in 1932. He himself did not live to ascend to the Swedish throne.
As recently as 1946 when he was evicted from Coburg Castle by the Allies, Nazi sympathiser and grandson of Queen Victoria Duke Carl-Eduard of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (and, until 1919, the 2nd Duke of Albany) lived there.
Other visitors take on a musical bent including such luminaries as Richard Strauss, Hector Berlioz, Nicolo Paganini, Franz Liszt and Johann Strauß.
Coburg Castle today
Today, visits to the castle take in centuries’ worth of architecture and meticulous restoration and highlights include the Heated Stone Chamber (Steinerne Kemenate), the Memorial Room, the 19th century Lutherkapelle and the Bear Enclosures.
There are works by old German masters Cranach, Dürer, Grünewald and Holbein; stunning collections of Venetian glassware, carriages and sleighs (including Europe’s oldest working stagecoach), hunting weapons, copper engravings and sculptures from prolific 15th and 16th century sculptor and woodcarver Tilman Riemenschneider.
The castle is open daily (closed Mondays) from April to September, and open afternoons (closed Mondays) in the winter months. Veste Coburg is what you want – the same organisation also operates the European Museum of Modern Glass nearby if you want to make a day of it.
Getting to Coburg Castle
The castle is at the east end of Coburg’s Hoftgarten: it’s a 30 minute walk from Coburg’s main station. Otherwise, there’s ample parking in town and closer to the castle, or bus routes will help get you there. Coburg itself is about 90 minutes drive north of Nuremberg.
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