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Water Fortress Ziegenhain Germany

Bulwark of protestants, where the Confirmation was once invented

Schwalm-Touristik e.V.

„Strong as Ziegenhain“ was once a saying which referred to the imposing former water fort. From 1537, the landgrave Philipp the Noble had the landgrave’s castle including the city core surrounded by 4 roundabouts and a mighty ring wall. This is how the central main fortress of the four Hessian land fortresses was developed. In 1807, fort Ziegenhain was slighted on Napoleons order. The water trench and the castle remained, which has been used as a prison since 1872.

Fortress visitors can walk along the water trench and have a look at the exhibits in the Schwalm museum, the former commander’s house.

Experience World

New Guardhouse


When building the parade ground in 1769, a main guardhouse was built, which completes the two guardhouses in Philipp gate and Wilhelm gate. The “new guardhouse” accommodated sentries and the restroom for officers and soldiers. The arms stone over the door was originally meant for the Philipp gate guardhouse. The letters “FR” stand for landgrave Frederic I, the king’s crown for Frederic being also king of Sweden at this time.
After comprehensive restoration works, the “gem” was reopened in September 2017. The tourist information has been there since 1986.

Castle Ziegenhain and die invention of the Confirmation


In 1470 the previous fortress in Ziegenhain was rebuilt to a hunting lodge by landgrave Ludwig I of Hesse.
In 1539, landgrave Philipp the Noble invited Hessian theologians and reformers to the castle. The result was the Ziegenhain church discipline regulation, which introduced the Confirmation for the principality Hesse, which is celebrated until today by protestants worldwide.

Water trench of Fortress Ziegenhain


The inner water trench of the Hessian land fortress Ziegenhain is well preserved over the centuries. Many stories are told about today’s idyllic waterway.
There is a canon at the entrance of the fort as a memory of the defensive times during the Schmalkaldic War (1546-1547) and the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648).
A walk around the water fort or other themed guided tours can be booked at any time with Schwalm-Touristik e.V. via phone no. 06691/207-400 or e-Mail: gebucht werden.

Museum of Schwalm in the former commander’s building (Stone House)


The former commander’s building of Ziegenhain today accommodates the museum of Schwalm. Besides folkloric exhibits of the region from the Stone Age, visitors can find a several square meters large model of fortress Ziegenhain of 1760 and original weapons from different epochs of the moving fortress history. The Schwalm costumes for many events (weddings, baptisms, confirmations, etc.) is a must-see for every visitor.
The timbered building is open from Tuesday to Sunday and on holidays from 2pm – 5 pm. Guided tours for groups are available outside business hours after appointment via phone.

Tour Offers and Information

Schwalmstadt-Ziegenhain: Wasserfestung und Konfirmationsstadt

With QR codes on the historic buildings, it is possible to inform yourself at any time about the history of the building. For travel groups who would like to take a trip to water fort Ziegenhain, we are happy to organize a city tour or on request a whole day plan with many possibilities in the Red Riding Hood area.

Pilgrim path ,,Catechism on the way“

Since 2017, Ziegenhain has therefore also been nicknamed "Confirmation City Schwalmstadt". In memory of the invention of the Confirmation, there is the catechism path around Ziegenhain since 2014. On the 21 km long pilgrimage, five churches offer the encounter with one main piece of the catechism each.

Monument and History


Landgrave Philipp the Noble, also known as „Leo Hassiae“, was one of the first protestant electors in the German speaking area. From 1537 he had the landgrave’s castle rebuilt to the central main fortress of the four Hessian state fortresses by (among others) Balthasar von Germersheim. Because of him and the Ziegenhain church discipline regulations, developed under his thoughtful regency in 1539, the Protestantism was decisively influenced and Ziegenhain became the birth location of the Confirmation in today’s form in 1539. Since 2017, Ziegenhain is therefore also calles “Confirmation city Schwalmstadt”.

Also, the founding of the first protestant university in Marburg traces back to him.

During the Thirty Years’ War the saying “as strong as Ziegenhain” was developed. Only the Seven Years’ War shook this myth of the impregnableness of the fortress. Landgrave Frederic II. made fortress Ziegenhain to a reception station for recruits of Hessian soldiers for the war of independency in North America. From 1775, conscripted subsidies troops fought from Ziegenhain on the English side, among them the poet Johann Gottfried Seume.

In 1807, slighting of the fortress started on Napoleons’ order. Since 1842 the castle became a prison for forced labourers within the fortress, later also used as women’s prison. The museum of Schwalm” in the “Stone House” on the parade place keeps a large model of the water fort in the condition of 1761 and interesting relics from the history of the fortress and the region.

Quelle: gemeinfrei


Castle of counts of Ziegenhain

The comlete core of Ziegenhain includin the castle facilities, church and houses was built under landgrave Philipp from 1537. Besides a mighty ring wall with altogether 4 defensive roundabouts, walls and the inner and outer water trench were developed. Also, the foreland of the fortress could be flodded in case of defence via the channel system of the Schwalm.

During the years 1622 – 1623, four ravelins provided an additional enhancement of the fortification and also the city Weichaus was surrounded by walls. That way the water fort Ziegenhain could live through the Thirty Years’ War with almost no damage.

Only in 1758, the Seven Years’ War, Ziegenhain, as an outdated fortress, had to surrender without a fight to the French troops. In 1761, Hessian artillery bombarded Ziegenhain and brought damage.

By the end of the 18th century, the parade place and the “New Guardhouse” were built as well as a new fortress entrance with a bridge. In 1806, another fightless surrender followed, this time to the Napoleonic troops, under whose order the slighting of water fort Ziegenhain began in 1807.

Quelle: gemeinfrei
Quelle: Gerhard Reidt
Quelle: Merian