ANCIENT HISTORY IN AN IMPRESSIVE LANDSCAPE
Nestled in the heart of the German state of Baden-Württemberg, the Straufer countryside is wonderfully scenic. The landscape between Schwäbisch Gmünd, Göppingen, and Aalen is full of history: In Lorch Monastery, Wäscherschloss Castle, and the Hohenstaufen Castle Ruins, the memory of one of the most powerful noble dynasties of the Middle Ages lives on – and this year, a day trip is particularly worthwhile. Why? Because the year 1122 saw the birth of what might be the House of Staufen’s most famous member: Friedrich I Barbarossa. The precise day and even the month of his birth are not known. Yet this member of the House of Staufen is counted as one of the most important kings and emperors in history. His reign extended far beyond the present borders of Germany – yet the memory of the Swabian noble house is particularly vivid in Staufer country. And it's easy to discover on foot during a hike.
FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE HOUSE OF STAUFEN
The “Irene von Byzanz” hiking trail follows the last journey of the emperor’s daughter, and wife of King Philipp of Swabia, from the former Hohenstaufen castle grounds to the Lorch Monastery, where she lies buried. The trail combines beautiful natural sights and exciting cultural history. The hike, which is about twelve kilometers long, can easily be completed in less than four hours. In total, an ascent of 146 meters and a descent of 493 meters await. The trail begins in the Hohenstaufen Castle Ruins.
COLUMNS AT THE ANCESTRAL CASTLE
The House of Staufen built their fortified ancestral castle on a cone-shaped, nearly 700- meter-tall mountain. Only the foundation walls of the mighty complex remain. But here, the legend of the House of Staufen lives on: On the eastern summit is a 3.2-meter Staufer Column made of Apulian marble. A German-Italian inscription proclaims: “Hohenstaufen – a mountain – a castle – a dynasty – an age – a legend.” The octagonal shape is reminiscent of the imperial crown of the Holy Roman Empire. But it also recalls the Castel del Monte, the famous Staufen castle in southern Italy. These kinds of columns can be found throughout the House of Staufen’s sphere of influence in Europe: From Italy to the Netherlands, from France to the Czech Republic. The nearest of them lies not far away, at Wäscherschloss Castle – and it can be reached on foot from Hohenstaufen in just under an hour.
A DEFIANT CASTLE WITH A MIGHTY WALL
The “Irene von Byzanz” hiking trail leads past the gates of Wäscherschloss Castle, which is reached in about four kilometers. A perfect stop: The small, medieval castle was built to protect Hohenstaufen. Its wall, two meters thick and about ten meters high, stands defiant. The ministerial castle was built in the first half of the 13th century – the heyday of the House of Staufen under Friedrich II, ushered in by Frederick I Barbarossa. Facing away from the castle, there is an impressive view of Hohenstaufen – as well as the Staufer Column of Wäscherschloss Castle, a reminder of the European history of the Swabian noble family.
A MEMORIAL TO THE HOUSE OF STAUFEN
Eight kilometers away from Wäscherschloss Castle lies Lorch Monastery. The complex towers imposingly above the Rems River. Here, the memory of the House of Staufen lives on in stone and artistic images: The monastery was one of their burial places. In 1475 – long after the House of Staufen had died out – the monks opened all of the church’s tombs. They transferred the House of Staufen’s mortal remains to an impressive tumba, a table tomb, in the center of the church. Some 65 years later, they decorated the pilasters of the church center nave with paintings of famous members of the House of Staufen – including Friedrich I Barbarossa, who was born 900 years ago. The chapter house is decorated with a large, circular painting by the Lorch artist Hans Kloss, containing 500 painted human figures, 600 animals, and 120 views of cities, castles, and towns. The circular painting conveys vivid impression of Staufen history.
THE EMPEROR WITH THE RED BEARD
Friedrich I was the son of the House of Staufen’s Duke Friedrich II of Swabia and the House of Welf’s Judith of Bavaria – like no other, he stood for the balance between the competing noble houses. He was elected king in Frankfurt in 1152. Just three years later, the Pope crowned him emperor in Rome. Friedrich became famous for his prolonged disputes with Henry the Lion, the cities of northern Italy, and the Pope. Italy is also the origin of his nickname Barbarossa, meaning “Red Beard.” The last years of his life were spent preparing a crusade to Jerusalem. He died in 1190. Decades after Barbarossa's death, the Staufen dynasty came to an end. Legends soon sprang up around Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa: Supposedly, he lies sleeping in Kyffhäuser, Thuringia, and will return one day.
SERVICE AND INFORMATION
Hohenstaufen Castle Ruins
+49 (0) 71 61.65 04 444
HOURS OF OPERATION AND PRICES
The Hohenstaufen Castle Ruins can be accessed free of charge during the day.
+49 (0) 71 72,915 21 11
May 1st – October 31st
Sat, Sun, holidays
12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
+49 (0) 71 72.92 84 97
March 1st – October
31st Monastery, monastery ticket office, permanent exhibition, and Staufer mural
Wednesday – Sunday. Holidays 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Lorch Monastery annual pass
Still €15.00 until the end of August, instead of €30.00
Combination ticket Lorch Monastery and Wäscherschloss Castle
Masks are no longer required. We recommend that you continue to wear a mask. Masks are an efficient way to protect yourself and others from infection.
Ludwigsburg Palace management
Phone +49 (0) 71 41.18 64 00