European Culture Route Fortified Monuments - FORTE CULTURA®

Fortfied City Büdingen Germany

500 Years of Fortified Heritage in the County of Ysenburg-Büdingen

Büdingen - history lives here

If stones are not just walls and half-timbered houses more than beams, you will be enchanted by Büdingen's charm. The medieval old town, the imposing fortification wall with the historic Jerusalem Gate and Büdingen Castle, one of the best-preserved Staufer fortifications in Germany, impress visitors from near and far.

Experience World

Büdingen fortifications


Impressive fortress walls with their 22 sandstone towers have characterised the face of Büdingen since Ludwig II of Ysenburg in Büdingen (reigned 1461-1511). Among them are the Great Bulwark and the Jerusalem Gate. The fortifications, which are more than 2 kilometres long, are partly accessible. This battlement can be reached via the Jerusalem Gate. Today, the entire complex is regarded as a prime example of the changing fortification construction since the advent of firearms.
The urban ensemble of fortifications and the old town protected by them is unique in its unity and is now a listed building under monumental protection.

Jerusalem Gate (Lower Gate or Cross Gate)


The Jerusalem Gate from 1503 is the imposing, double-towered main entrance to the new town of Büdingen and to the two-kilometre-long, partially accessible fortress wall with its 22 sandstone towers. Both gate towers have 3 storeys with 3 embrasures each.
The alliance coat of arms of Ludwig II zu Ysenburg and his wife Maria von Nassau decorates the archway between the towers.
In front of the Jerusalem Gate, the suburb came into being as a result of the Edict of Tolerance issued by Ernst Casimir I of Ysenburg in 1712. Religious refugees of various origins and confessions, in Büdingen mainly inspired, in the surrounding area also Huguenots, Waldensians, Herrnhuters settled and brought their crafts and trades with them. The religious refugees, saved and relieved from persecution, gave the Lower Gate (also known as the Cross Gate) the name "Jerusalem Gate", which they named after the Heavenly Jerusalem.
To cover the tower and staircases, there are unique stone domes on the roofs of both towers.
A portcullis and a wooden drawbridge over the moat originally secured the city from attack.
In the Sandrose Museum in the Jerusalem Gate you can experience a regional speciality of the Wetterau. This geological treasure is found worldwide only in the Wetterau and in Oklahoma (USA).

Great Bulwark and Witch's Tower


The great bulwark has a diameter of 17 metres and walls 4 metres thick. The 16 gun chambers were accessible on 4 wooden floors. As the strongest bulwark in Büdingen, it is also one of the largest gun towers in Europe. It was built in 1491 at the most vulnerable position of the Büdingen town fortifications.
A casemate passage, the so-called Streichwehr, connects the Great Bulwark with the Hexenturm (1390).The Hexenturm was originally a defence tower. Extensive reconstruction work under Count Ludwig II turned it into a prison tower, which could only be reached from above via a hatch. The time of the witch trials, a long and dark chapter in Büdingen's history, is brought to life at original sites in guided tours such as "Hexenwerk und Hexenwahn" (Witchcraft and witch mania).

Ludwig Tower


At the north-east corner of Büdingen's fortifications stands the so-called Ludwigsturm. It bears the name of Count Ludwig II of Ysenburg and Büdingen, who had his town refortified at the end of the 15th century. According to legend, he died of old age while visiting the construction site of the tower. Even today, the inscription GOT GNAD DER SELE (God mercy the soul) above an embrasure is a reminder of the tragically ill builder.

Schlaghaus (Slaughterhouse)


The Schlaghaus was part of the defence system of the old town until 1494.
At that time, this gate with drawbridge and tollgate was located as a bridgehead on the other side of the Seemenbach. In this way, the town was better protected from the trade and military road running along it.
Only after the course of the stream had been diverted was the Schlaghaus integrated into the construction of a new ring of walls (1490-1510).
In 1777, the Schlaghaus became the Büdingen slaughterhouse and was used by the Büdingen butchers until 1895.
The "Büdingen Slaughter Museum in the Schlaghaus" near the Mühltorbrücke is dedicated to this traditional craft and its development in Büdingen over the centuries. Since autumn 2020, the "Historic Butcher's Shop" has supplemented the museum and experiential education offer.

Steinernes Haus (Stoney House) and Mühlpforte (Mill Gate)


This building got its name as Büdingen's first stone residence and served as the town residence of the Counts of Isenburg around 1500.
Next to the main gate is a legendary stuffed boar's head. Büdingen's tour guides reveal its secret in the most entertaining way.
The house is also decorated with late Gothic fish-bladder tracery.
With its fortified courtyard directly behind the town wall, it had more than just a representative character. The hunchback embrasures typical of the county can be found here in the old town wall.

Bunker Wetterau-Main-Tauber-Stellung (Position)


Bunker Wetterau Main Tauber Position
The 20th century has also left its mark on the fortification architecture of Büdingen. Büdingen was a garrison town from 1936. For this purpose, the Krüger Barracks were built from 1935 onwards, which became the American Armstrong Barracks after the end of the war. Today, after 60 years of American stationing, the barracks have been converted to civilian use through demolition and conversion. Of the 19 Büdingen bunkers of the Wetterau-Main-Tauber position (Little Siegfried Line 1936/37), 18 were blown up after World War II. One bunker was preserved.
Guided bunker walks along their ruins combine commemorative remembrance with the natural experience of the Büdingen Forest (Currently there are no regular guided tours - enquiries possible VHC - Der Wanderverein Büdingen/ Büdingen Hiking Club).

Ronneburg Castle


10 kilometres southwest of Büdingen's old town is a fortified hilltop castle. The medieval and early modern castle buildings of Ronneburg became the residence of a collateral line in Ysenburg possession in the 16th century. Extensions and alterations in the Renaissance style from this period, such as the architecturally modern embrasures on the stables, the outer bailey with turrets on the field side and the roofed keep, are still recognisable.
As a result of the Edict of Tolerance (1712) in the county of Büdingen, the Herrnhut Brethren congregation and "inspired" religious refugees settled in Ronneburg and later in the Herrnhaag estate. At the beginning of the 19th century, these congregations emigrated mainly to the USA, but also to missions worldwide.
With its castle museum, falconry and excursion and adventure gastronomy, Ronneburg is a popular destination for Wetterau tourism. The keep with its distinctive "Welsche Haube" (Welsh dome) provides a fabulous view over the Wetterau region from its viewing platform, and if you're lucky, even as far as the Frankfurt skyline.
With a varied programme of events and exciting guided tours of the castle, the Ronneburg can be conquered by families today.

Tour Offers and Information

City, theme and experience tours

There is much to discover in Büdingen. Dedicated guides reveal many a secret with wit and sound knowledge.
Fascinating history(s) - historical personalities

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Büdingen with children

As a family town, Büdingen is also a paradise for children and offers a colourful programme of discoveries and experiences.

Die Froschgeschichte - Büdingen und seine Frääsch

Museums and galleries in Büdingen

Büdingens reiche Museumslandschaft nimmt Sie mit auf eine Reise durch die Zeit.


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Monument and History


Early Celtic settlement in the region is attested by burial mounds north of Büdingen. The original settlement of Büdingen developed as a Frankish foundation around the Remigius Church, the oldest sacred building in the Wetterau.
The Lords of Büdingen, followers of the Staufers, appeared from 1130 onwards. Their castle was built further east to protect the imperial forest (Büdingen Forest) against the expansion of the landgraves of Hesse, the Fulda prince abbey and the archbishopric of Mainz. The old town of Büdingen developed as a settlement to the west of the moated castle and received its first town wall. The family of Isenburg permanently established itself in the Ganerbenburg of Büdingen. However, the prospering town soon became too small. The new town was built from the middle of the 14th century. In 1422, Emperor Friedrich III declared the territory of the Counts of Ysenburg an imperial county.
During the long reign (1461-1511) of Ludwig II of Ysenburg-Büdingen, Büdingen's townscape, which is still characteristic today, was created. The count ensured the architectural security of the town. He made the proud citizens of Büdingen themselves responsible for its protection. The county was divided among the count's heirs. As early as 1521, the Büdingen line and with it its subjects became Protestant.
Calvinism finally prevailed. With it began a long and dark period of witch trials. More than 400 executions are documented between 1532 and 1699. It became necessary to counteract the depopulation and economic decline caused by war, epidemics and persecution. In front of the Jerusalem Gate, the suburb came into being as a result of Ernst Casimir I von Ysenburg's edict of tolerance in 1712. Religious refugees of various origins and confessions settled there, in Büdingen mainly inspired people, in the surrounding area also Huguenots, Waldensians, Herrnhuters and brought their crafts and trades with them. The religious refugees, saved and relieved from persecution, gave the Lower Gate (also known as the Cross Gate) the name "Jerusalem Gate", which they named after the Heavenly Jerusalem.

Quelle: Roentgen-Museum Neuwied, Stadtarchiv Büdingen
Quelle: © C.Braunwarth
Quelle: ©Thomas Appel
Quelle: ©Verena Holland


Today's Büdingen Castle developed from a moated castle from the 12th century. To the west of the castle, a settlement developed which was later called the old town of Büdingen. In the middle of the 14th century, the settlement was secured by a town fortification consisting of a town wall, gate towers, ramparts and ditches. To the north of the old town, a new part of the town was created by immigration. Around 1390, this new town was also enclosed by a fortification. For both settlements, care was taken to ensure that the streets ran at right angles. There was an undeveloped area between the two parts. The political amalgamation to form the town of Büdingen took place in 1428 and from 1490 onwards a new, double-skinned ring of walls, more massive ramparts and a moat were built around the town as a common fortification for the old and new towns. The Seemenbach stream was also relocated to the south for this purpose. The front gate (Schlaghaus) became part of the outer ring of walls and the former stream bed became the Zwinger.
When it was completed, the characteristic lower gate (Jerusalem Gate) formed the new main access. Later forced settlements took place outside the gates of the town wall in the suburbs from the early 18th century onwards.
As Büdingen's fortifications suffered no significant damage from war, they were preserved as a self-contained historical complex. A model of the fortified town from around 1640 can be seen in the Red Tower.
While many fortified towns dismantled their fortifications to promote industrial and urban development, around 1850 Ernst Casimir II of Ysenburg-Büdingen and his court architect Victor Melior decided against this.
Today, the historic town of Büdingen is listed as a whole. Extensive renovations are helping to preserve this unique treasure of fortified cultural heritage piece by piece.

Quelle: © Christiane Braunwarth
Quelle: © Verena Holland
Quelle: ©t Büdinger Tourismus und Marketing GmbH
Quelle: © Büdinger Tourismus und Marketing GmbH

Nature Experience

The Garden Kölsch is a perennial garden, now open to the public, in the historic fortress farms of Büdingen's old town. This year-round flowering idyll invites you to relax next to the old town car park. There is direct access from the market square.
Flyer Garten Kölsch

The impressive rock formations of the Wilder Stein geotope is a side vent of the Vogelsberg in the middle of Büdingen above the historic old town. The Sand Rose Museum in the Jerusalem Gate and the Geological Sculpture Gallery provide information about the geological features of the region.
Flyer Wilder Stein

The geotope Sandstone Quarry Büdingen with its red sandstone already served as a source of material for Celtic inhabitants of the region.
This natural resource was also used for Büdingen Castle and many impressive buildings in Büdingen and the surrounding area.
The quarry, which is now disused, is an interesting stop on nature walks in northern Büdingen.
Sandsteinbruch Büdingen

The Wilderness ParkWildpark in the Kälberbach Valley with the Forest Mammal Sculpture Trail and its wooden sculptures, puzzle boards, movement elements and sensory modules invites visitors to marvel and experience. The trail has information boards in Braille and leisure facilities such as a leo hut, game park, bubbling pool, forest adventure trail, forest stage and an adventure orchard.

The Büdingen nature, educational and recreational forest attracts visitors to the "TraumWald" (Dream Forest) on over 300 ha around the game park with a concept of forest and environmental education.
Flyer TraumWald

An experiential forest ropes course and team course "Laubfrosch"(Tree frog) offers a challenge to those hungry for exercise at Büdingen Youth Hostel.
Erlebnispädagogischer Wald-Seilgarten und Team-Parcours „Laubfrosch“

Quelle: © V. Holland
Quelle: © Verena Holland
Quelle: © Verena Holland
Quelle: © Vanesse Dippel