Sigmaringen Castle (German: Schloss Sigmaringen) was the princely castle and seat of government for the Princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Situated in the Swabian Alb region of Baden-Württemberg, Germany, this castle dominates the skyline of the town of Sigmaringen. The castle was rebuilt following a fire in 1893, and only the towers of the earlier medieval fortress remain. Schloss Sigmaringen was a family estate of the Swabian Hohenzollern family, a cadet branch of the Hohenzollern family, from which the German Emperors and kings of Prussia came. During the closing months of World War II, Schloss Sigmaringen was briefly the seat of the Vichy French Government after France was liberated by the Allies. The castle and museums may be visited throughout the year, but only on guided tours.
Sigmaringen is located on the southern edge of the Swabian Alb, a plateau region in southern Baden-Württemberg. The Hohenzollern castle was built below the narrow Danube river valley in the modern Upper Danube Nature Park (German: Naturpark Obere Donau). The castle rises above the Danube on a towering chalk projection that is a spur of the white Jura Mountains formation. The hill is known simply as the Schlossberg or Castle Rock. The Schlossberg is about 200 meters (660 ft) long and up to 35 meters (115 ft) above the river. On this free-standing towering rock, the princely Hohenzollern castle is the largest of the Danube valley castles. The sheer cliffs and steep sides of the tower made it a natural site for a well protected medieval castle.
The castle rooms on the tour are full of ornate furniture, paintings and valuable porcelain objects. The rooms give the visitor a taste of the lifestyle of the nobility in previous centuries. Collections of pre- and ancient historical objects are on display as well as works from swabian artists, carvers and metalworkers. The Hall of Weapons displays one of the largest private weapon collections in Europe, covering everything from the Middle Ages to modern times. The Marstall museum contains the princely fleet of carriages.
The weapon collection
The weapon collection in Schloss Sigmaringen contains over 3000 different examples of weapons and armor. Prince Karl Anton’s passion for collecting weapons resulted in the creation of this collection. The collection shows the evolution of weapons from the 14th century to the 20th century. In addition to weapons, the collection also includes protective items such as shields, armor and handguns. Particularly noteworthy are such rare objects dating from the 15th century as a German multi-barrel gun, a body shield and a richly engraved helmet once belonging to a royal bodyguard from ca.1622. The collection includes not just European weapons but also weapons that were considered exotic, such as Persian weapons and the full equipment of a Japanese Samurai.
In the Galeriebau (English: Gallery Building), built from 1862 to 1867 under Prince Karl Anton, west of the castle is a collection of medieval torture instruments. The torture chamber with its instruments illustrates an earlier sense of justice.
Pre and Ancient History Collection
In addition to the torture museum, the Galeriebau also houses a Pre and Ancient history museum. The collections give a picture of life from the Stone Age until the end of the Merovingian dynasty (10.000 B.C. until 700 A.D.). It also includes artifacts from the roman settlements around Sigmaringen. Karl Anton wasn’t just fascinated by weapons and hunting, he also loved history and archeology. In 1881 during construction of a canal in the Sigmaringen Market Square, Roman pottery shards and iron work were found. This discovery excited Karl Anton, and he ordered a member of the court F. A. von Lehner to search for and archeologically explore the Villa Rustica in the area. Finds from this Roman estate as well as other nearby estates are including in the collection.
Located south west of the castle is the royal stables (German: Marstall). The building now houses the Marstallmuseum, a collection of princely carriages. Carriages, coaches, sleds and sedan chairs are presented in an open building. Additionally, equipment for the horses including saddles, horse shoes and spurs, are on display in the museum. One of the exhibits, a manual firefighting pump dates back to the fire in the castle in 1893. The fire raged for three days because the connections on the modern firefighting equipment didn’t match the castle’s connections. Water had to be brought up by a human chain in buckets from the Danube to the castle.
Sigmaringen Castle is open all year round!
November until December:
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
2nd January until 28th February:
Monday until Friday closed
Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
March until November:
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Official Website – http://www.schloss-sigmaringen.de