The Medieval Ruins of Helfenberg Castle, Germany

The mighty ruins of Helfenberg Castle in Germany. (Image: J Abele, CC-BY-SA-4.0. Ruins of Helfenberg Castle in Germany)

Stout and imposing, the remains of a medieval castle still guards the hilltop overlooking the hamlet of Helfenberg, in the southwest German state of Baden-Württemberg. But today, the ruined fortification has been consumed by trees that began taking over when it was abandoned centuries ago.

Helfenberg Castle was built some time around 1250, and first showed up in official records in 1259. The mighty hilltop structure was first the home of the Helfenbergs, then the Sachsenheims, and the Sturmfeders after them. It would changed hands again as the centuries passed by.

Burgruine Helfenberg. (Image: Peter Schmelzle, CC-BY-SA-2.0)

A number of intriguing episodes have taken place throughout the castle’s history. The year 1456 brought the sale of not only the property but all the people who lived within! By 1521, Helfenberg Castle was the property of Wolf Ruch von Winnenden, who was in the process of extending the fortifications when he was murdered during the German Peasants’ War of 1525.

Much of the now-ruined Helfenberg Castle was destroyed during the Thirty Years’ War, which was fought in Central Europe during the 17th century. The structure was later restored with the addition of a chapel. A vineyard was added some generations later, but the beleaguered structure was not to last much longer.

(Image: Kiesersche Forstkarte 1685)

By the early 1800s the fortified house lay in ruins, and a lower section was completely destroyed in a 1945 bombing raid. Today, the hollow ruins have been stabilised by current owners the von Gaisberg family. Bolstered by public funding, the ruined castle’s deterioration has been slowed and the attractive hilltop grounds are open to the public.

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