The History of Kriebstein Castle

Upon its foundation, Kriebstein Castle became the residential and ruling seat of the von Beerwalde family, whose estate had included the towns of Waldheim and Hartha before 1400 already. Thus the residential tower can be regarded as a uniform new building initiated by Dietrich von Beerwalde from 1384.

In 1407, the castle lord was newly enfeoffed with Kriebstein Castle, and also the newly erected buildings, the outbuildings that stood out over the edge of the Zschopau River cliffs (chapel wing, Gothic hall) as well as smaller outbuildings. After Dietrich’s death in 1408, the Kriebstein property fell to his widow Elisabeth as a jointure and after her death to their daughter Klara.

The second era of importance in the castle’s architectural history began in 1465 when Hugold III von Schleinitz acquired the castle and Kriebstein dominion. From 1471 onwards, Schleinitz, in his capacity as Lord Marshal to Elector Ernest and Duke Albert, entrusted larger reconstruction and extension works to Arnold von Westfalen, the famed masterbuilder of Meissen Albrechtsburg Castle. The wealth of Late Gothic shapes created by that outstanding architect can also be found in this structure. Masterbuilder Arnold von Westfalen supervised the reconstruction and new building of the utility wing with the “new ballroom” and the Well Chamber, also of the so-called “rear castle” and kitchen building, whose typical forms of the windows are a clear testimony to his work. This building effort gave Kriebstein Castle the footprint that is still visible today. Despite later extensions and structural changes, the castle has been able to preserve its Gothic character up to our day.

After Hugold von Schleinitz’s death in 1490, frequently changing ownership prevented major building activities. Under Georg von Carlowitz (1544 - 1550), the Kriebstein dominion, with its villages and the two towns of Waldheim and Hartha, had reached its largest territorial expanse.

The last third of the 17th century saw vivid building activity under the rule of those of Schoenberg. Floors were added to the buildings attached to the residential tower and to the gatehouse as well as a stairwell embraced by the two. The rather unassuming building measures taken by the Lords von Milkau are still commemorated today by inscriptions in the weather vane of the ridge turrets on the residential tower and gatehouse. In 1825, Hanscarl von Arnim of the House of Planitz near Zwickau acquired Kriebstein Castle, which remained the property of the Arnim family until 1945.

Between 1866 and 1868 and conducted by Court Masterbuilder Carl Moritz Haenel in neo-Gothic style, the castle saw drastic changes under practical aspects of use. Those have been the latest major structural changes and, although performed in decent craftsmanship, they clearly conjure the castle’s monumental medieval character. Apart from changing the interior division of rooms, one building of the utility wing was reduced by two floors. The northern defence wall was terraced and the wooden battlement removed and also one section of the ring wall was secured by supporting buttresses. The alterations in the kitchen building were of a serious nature. The originally half-timbered building, with a half-hipped roof, was replaced by a solid one and, unfortunately, the huge chimney and hearth were demolished.

In as early as 1930, parts of Kriebstein Castle were opened to the public. It is remarkable what continued efforts were made by the Arnim family to keep the castle in a good state of repair and that extensive restoration works (chapel) were performed without receiving any state subsidies. This commitment contributed substantially to its reputation as “Saxony’s most beautiful knight’s castle”. After the Arnim family was expropriated in September 1945, the castle became “people’s owned”, at first for residential purposes and then used by the forestry administration. The museum could be reopened on 6 August 1949.

Since 1 January 1993, Kriebstein Castle and its museum have been in the ownership of the Free State of Saxony under the supervision of the Saxon Castle Administration in the State Office of Finance.

The legend of the faithful lady of Kriebstein

In 1415, during Shrovetide, Knight Dietrich von Staupitz and his men took possession of Kriebstein Castle in a surprise coup. In retaliation, Margrave Frederick the Belligerent laid siege to the castle. After a long time, mainly the women did not endure life in the castle. Staupitz’s wife begged the Margrave whether at least the women be allowed to leave the castle with the most precious belongings they could carry. When he granted permission, Frederick the Belligerent was certainly on the understanding they meant their jewellery. But, then, he was truly amazed when, the next morning, the castle gate opened and the ladies were carrying out their husbands on their backs. The Margrave was so touched by the artful deed of the faithful ladies of Kriebstein that he pardoned Staupitz, who had actually deserved to be killed.

Contact

Kriebstein Castle

Susanne Tiesler

Kriebsteiner Straße 7 | 09648 Kriebstein

+49 (0) 34327 952-0
kriebstein@schloesserland-sachsen.de

Admission & opening hours

Admission:

  • Full rate 6,00 EUR
  • Reduced rate 3,00 EUR
  • Full rate: EUR 6.00
  • Reduced rate*: EUR 3.00
  • 2 adults and up to 4 children**: EUR 13.50
  • 1 adult and up to 2 children**: EUR 7.50
  • Group rate (15 people and more): EUR 4.80 per person
  • Group rate for pupils: EUR 2.40 per person
Photo and video permit 
  • EUR 2.50
Free admission:
  • Children aged 5 or younger
  • People visiting the castle on their birthday
  • Accompanying adults of severly disabled people (entry »B« iin the disability pass)
  • Tour guides
  • Tour bus drivers accompanying a tour group
  • 1 accompanying adult per 10 pupils
  • Journalists for reporting purposes (valid identification required)
  • Holders of the schloesserlandPASS

Opening hours

February to March
  • Tue - Sun: 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
  • Mon: closed (except on public holidays)
April to October
  • Tue - Fri: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
  • Sat, Sun: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
December to January
  • closed, except for special events
Last admission half an hour before closing. Outside opening hours visits possible on request. 

Subject to modifications.