Embedded in the Elbe sandstone highlands the city Königstein is located at the riverside of the Elbe. High above on the Table Mountain is the same-named fortress Königstein, one of the biggest and most beautiful mountain fortresses of Europe. Just the fantastic view you have on almost every point of the 1700 meters long wall walk is worth the way up.
Besides the panoramic view, the interesting architecture and history set new standards in the European fortress tourism with a very varying and diverse experience program for young and old.
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Gate House Fortress Königstein, Foto: Bernd Walther
The impressive gate house received fortress visitors with artfully reliefs and protective defence facilities.
In the upper stories an interesting permanent exhibition is located “In lapide regis – on the stone of the king”, 800 years life on fortress Königstein.
The commander house is part of the gate house and served as tenement for the fortress commander and his family. This included the commander garden and the commander horse stable. The re-staged equipment of the commander apartment gives a good impression of the life in the early 20th century. The interior exhibition from around 1900 consists of the kitchen, study room and the boudoir of the family of the fortress commander.
Magdalena castle with huge wine barrel in cellar
Magdalena castle is a Renaissance castle and was built to accommodate the household and the provisions. The imposing historic wine cellar once had a huge wine barrel with around 240.000 litre of volume. It was the result of the competition between the elector of Saxony and the Palatine elector. A tour through this wine cellar is well worth seeing.
Frederic castle is a former viewing and detaching tower and has one of the most beautiful view over the Elbe valley. In 1731 it was rebuilt to today’s baroque pavilion. A special highlight is that the round table can be completely lowered into the basement where it can be reset. The castle also includes a registry office and can be rented for festivities.
Here, the military historic museum of the Federal Armed Forces is located. In the Old Armoury the history of the Saxonian arsenals is exhibited. It informs about the function of armouries as storage of weapons, equipment and trophies.
The visitors will see partly surprising perspectives of basic anthropologic and culture historic questions regarding fortresses. Rare weapons and unique items are presented as well as their function, ammunition, types of use and meaning within tactical and strategic planning.
The new exhibition in the New Armoury is planned for 2020.
Well House - History of the well and water pumping
The museum rooms in the Spring House offer a new experience. 20 years after the opening of the current exhibition in February 1998 it was remodelled and technical modernised.
The well on fortress Königstein is with 152,5 meters the deepest of its kind in Saxony and the second deepest in Germany. Ist drilling between 1566 and 1569 was arranged by elector August to ensure the water supply for future fortresses. Until today the traces of the miners and their chisels can be seen in the shaft. A new model scale 1:10 shows the drilling of the well by Marienberg miners around 450 years ago. The highlights of this exhibition are the direct view into the lighted well shaft and the show of water pump with the old electric engine of 1911.
This church is the first Garrison Church of Saxony (1676), originally a romantic mountain chapel. In 2000 it was re-inaugurated after restoration. On chosen dates the Sunday music takes place in Garrison Church. Visitors can then see a 15-minute concert on the Jehmlich organ at the top of every hour between 12 and 4.15 pm. Furthermore, mass services are held on chosen Sundays at 10:30 am. Current dates can be found in the event calendar of fortress Königstein.
Treasury and kitchen garden
This building was used in quieter times as outsourcing location of the treasury. This was kept safe here in the 19th century and partly also during peace times (up to 2mio thaler).
Next to the treasury the kitchen garden is located. It serves as a good example for self-supply of the fortress residents 100 years ago and shows a typical profile of what was needed and cultivated for that.
Tour Offers and Information
Festung Königstein gGmbh
The diverse tourist offers for fortress visitors of all generations are as comprehensive as the old children's song begins.
Guided tours, workshops, games, exhibitions, festivals, etc. and last but not least the magnificent view make you want to visit the fortress all year round.
Permanent exhibition In Lapide Regis – On the stone of the king
The interesting interactive exhibition teaches impressively about the diverse history: "800 years life on fortress Königstein".
33 rooms were prepared for this exhibition and are partly opened for public for the first time at all.
Play along program for kids
Fortress Königstein offers an all-year, interesting and diverse program, especially for young discoverer, among them:
- for small kings: "sealing the border certificate"
- for talented masons: "secret signs tell stories"
- for young archaeologists: "search and lift archaeological finds"
„The Swedish conquer Königstein“
- EXPERIENCE HISTORY FIRST-HAND -
On each June fortress Königstein will be in state of exception. It reminds of the year 1639, when Swedish troops coming from Pirna went over Königstein to Bohemia. Several uniformed groups from different federal states are announced. They set up a historic camp with around 100 tents on the fortress and will camp there the whole weekend.
Be a part of this historic spectacle with many shows: pikemen and musketeer shows, marches with drums and fanfares, cooking on open fire, old craftmanship… and of course the storming of the fortress with cannons and muskets.
Fortress for the handicapped
Fortress Königstein also offers a great stay for handicapped visitors. A companion is recommended for visitors in wheelchairs, as the ways might be uneven or inclined due to the building.
The better overview of difficult or impassable ways can be found in the tour guide for visitors in wheel chairs.
Guided Fortress tours
Guided tours are offered several times a day from April to October. Something for everyone: A stroll through 800 years fortress history, scary stories from the fortress chronicles on a tour with the shine of lanterns at night, amusing hours with shooting captain Clemens, short highlight tours for families or themed tours for children and school groups (7 – 16 years).
Monument and History
King Wentzel the first of Bohemia, ruler over kingdom Bohemia, mentioned the medieval castle on Königstein with burgrave Gebhard vom Stein for the first time in 1233. The first complete title „Königstein“ in the Upper Lusatia border certificate was sealed by Wenzel I. “in lapide regis” (lat.: on the stone of the king). With the contract of Eger in 1459 Königstein was given to dukedom Meißen and therefore to Wettin electors.
Elector Christian I. orders to rebuilt Königstein to state fortress in 1589, after elector August ensured the preconditions by the spring building in 1563. As a result, the fortress was used by Saxonian dukes and electors as a safe haven, hunting location and maison de plaisance and also as a state prison. Chancellor Dr. Nikolaus Krell was the first state prisoner as a leading Calvinist and following the order of strict Lutheran elector widow in 1591. More than 1000 other prisoners followed until 1922, among them Böttger, Bakunin or Bebel. Under several responsible persons and owners, the fortress was constantly modernised. This made it impossible for anyone to conquer the fortress militarily until today.
In 1806 Königstein became a Rhine federal fortress in the new kingdom Saxony. Napoleon inspected Königstein in 1813 and attested its absolute ability for defence.
In 1815 Königstein was declared the only Saxonian federal fortress and served as place of refuge for the royal family until 1866. From 1870 the fortress was mostly used as war prison or military hospital. In 1949 a youth works yard was established. Since 1955 the fortress facility on Königstein is a museum. Today history becomes alive and transparent in many ways. .
More information about history
Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbH Quelle: National Gallery of Art, Washington DC Quelle: © Meißen Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbH Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbH Quelle: Kreidelithographie F. A. Zimmermann Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbH
Elector Christian I. of Saxony and his followers had the existing castle rebuilt to the strongest fortress facility of Saxony between 1589 and 1597. They completed the rutted Table Mountain with high walls and built many of the today still preserved 50 buildings, for example the gate house, the prank weir, old barracks, Christian castle or the old Armoury. Further building phases in the 17th and 19th century completed the fortification facilities and the building ensemble. This makes the fortress Königstein an impressive ensemble of buildings of the late Gothic, the Renaissance and the baroque until the 19th century.
The whole fortification facility includes 9.5 hectare. The wall walk around the fortress has a length of 1700 meters and the walls are up to 42m high.
Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbH Quelle: ©Procapter Quelle: ©DR Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbH Quelle: ©DR Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbH
Not only nature lovers are attracted by the unbelievable view over Saxonian Switzerland and the Elbe valley from fortress Königstein. The 1700m long panoramic walk along the fortress walls offers impressive view on every point.
But also, within the fortress a garden at the commander house offers a nice oasis for tired hikers. The spacious fortress area invites to stay and relax in many shady spaces.
Who wants more adrenalin can use the climbing park Königstein on the bottom of the fortress opposite of the parking spaces. Fortress Königstein is also the starting point of many tours to the Table Mountains in the Elbe sandstone mountains like Lilienstein, Pfaffenstein or the Bastion as well as through romantic valleys of Saxonian Switzerland.
Moreover, the traditional and attractive hiking route goes along fortress Königstein – the Malerweg. The surrounding area offers many experiences for young and old.
Quelle: ©DR Quelle: ©DR Quelle: ©DR Quelle: Festung Kömnigstein gGmbH Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbH Quelle: ©DR Quelle: Festung Königstein gGmbh