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Burghausen Castle

Visited  August 2016

Location Burghausen, Bavaria, Germany
Railway Station Nearby No
Parking Yes
Facilities Toilets, shop, cafes in town centre
Map

 

 


 

 


Review

 

Burghausen Castle in Germany has the longest castle complex in Europe, at 1000 metres (0.62 of a mile) in length. It is divided up into six separate courtyards, each one defended by a series of towers, portcullises and drawbridges. The idea being if one courtyard was breached by the enemy, the next one could still be defended. The final courtyard housed the living quarters of the Duke of Bavaria and his family, safely protected from attack behind the five preceding wards. The reasons for the high level of fortification were due to the close proximity of the city of Salzburg, whose Princes were always squabbling with the Dukes of Bavaria.

 

 


 

 


 

Although a castle had been in existence for many years on this site, the main person who is associated with its development was Duke Georg der Reiche (George the Rich) In 1475 he married a Polish princess called Hedwig, and so he expanded and strengthened the castle to make it suitable for his wife and her entourage to live in. His wedding present to the 17 year old Hedwig was her own chapel, the chapel of St. Maria in the fourth courtyard. Hedwig apparently sobbed throughout her wedding as she was so homesick and missing her family in Poland. However, she seemed to settle down to life in the castle and lived there for many years.

 

Duke Georg was despotic in nature, he believed in his divine right to rule and would occasionally fire canons from the castle down into the town to remind the townsfolk just who was in charge! The town of Burghausen is very pretty and still has many of its traditional medieval buildings- repaired over & over due to necessity- the fortunes of the town were variable, and it could never seem to get enough money together to build new houses, which is fortunate for today's visitors as it is so beautifully preserved.

 

Georg and Hedwig were the last Duke & Duchess of the Wittelbach family  at Burghausen, they had no male heir so that line died out and a branch of the family in the town of Landshut succeeded to the title. Burghausen, the longest and most fortified castle in the area, had had its heyday, and fell into a gentle decline. The fortifications certainly did their job though, its reputation as impenetrable meant that no enemy ever tried to take the castle by force.

 

 


 

 


 

Due to the size of the castle there is an awful lot to see. Each of the courtyards has a series of buildings inside them, the outer courtyards are still in public use. They are rented out by the local council for business use and even private housing- a great way of utilising old buildings and keeping them commercially viable (and I am jealous as I would love to live in one of the courtyard houses) This is also in keeping with the historic use of the castle, as the buildings were originally constructed to accommodate those who worked in the castle. The more important the job, the further in the castle you were allowed to live. The fifth courtyard has a path which leads down into the town below, should you wish to explore further. There are also steps which lead to a bathing lake (The Wöhrsee) which was very tempting on the hot day that we were there.

 

The buildings in the final courtyard, which were previously the living quarters of the Duke, have been made into the castle museum. There is also a torture chamber displaying some 'interesting' methods of torture used in previous times. The exterior of the castle can be visited for free, to enter the museum and torture chamber you need to pay an admission. The car park at the castle is also free. There are several gift shops and  a cafe at the castle, beware that the cafe and one of the gift shops are closed on Monday, although the castle is still open. We visited in August and it was surprisingly quiet, nothing like some of the other castles we have visited during the peak tourist season. According to our guide August is never a busy time there, June/July are worse!

 


 

 


 

More info:  Burghausen Castle

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