Located on a 403-metre-high phonolite rock, Heldburg Fortress rises above the Heldburg Land region and can be seen from far and wide.
Previously an important bastion in the borderlands of the Henneberg and later Electoral Saxon territories, Heldburg Fortress had to send fire signals to its Franconian neighbours at times of danger. This role gave it the name ‘Franconian Light’. When the weather is fine, you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view of the surrounding area from the 45-metre-high tower that takes in Coburg Fortress, the Thuringian Forest, the Rhön mountains, the Franconian Jura region, the Hassberge hills and the Franconian Forest.
The castle complex of the fortress dates back to the 12th century. Under the Ernestine line of the Wettins, the castle experienced a significant extension phase during the 16th century when a glorious palace building was added. The architect commissioned by Frederick II, Nikolaus Gromann, created a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture in Central Germany. During the Reformation years, political discussions took place here, imperial knights plotted against the Elector and the Emperor, large weddings were celebrated and royal babies were born.
After being the victim of plunderers during the Thirty Years' War and of over 100 years of disrepair, Duke George II of Saxony-Meiningen commissioned Heldburg to be extensively renovated from 1874 onwards. The Duke lived here at certain times of the year with his wife, the court actress Ellen Franz, Baroness of Heldburg.
After the interior of the French building was refurnished (in the neo-Renaissance style), rooms in the commanders building were created for the Baroness of Heldburg (in the late-Gothic style). The ‘Freifraukemenate‘ (Baroness‘ Bower) served as a drawing room where the Duke and his wife met with artists and intellectuals, such as Johannes Brahms, Franz von Lehnbach, Ernst Haeckel and many more. The Duke made an amendment to his will saying that the castle he had transformed and furnished according to his artistic tastes should remain unchanged after his death and become a public place for art and learning.
The complex is the only castle in Thuringia on the Castle Road (Burgenstraße). On 8th September 2016, the German Castle Museum opened at the Fortress.
Heldburg Fortress hosts many interesting cultural events throughout the year. A particular highlight is the annual Castle Festival and Medieval Market that takes place on Whit Sunday and Whit Monday. Knights, jesters, minstrels, artisans and traders will take you on an entertaining journey through time for a history lesson that will delight people of all ages. On the last Sunday of the month, classical chamber concerts are held in the historical rooms featuring excellent artists from all over Germany.
Last entrance 30 minutes before closing time.