Hohenzollern Castle About this sound Burg Hohenzollern is a castle approximately 50 kilometers south of Stuttgart, Germany. It is considered the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family, which emerged in the Middle Ages and eventually became German Emperors.The castle is located on top of Berg Hohenzollern, at an elevation of 855 meters above sea level; 234 m above the towns of Hechingen and nearby Bisingen, to the south. Both are located at the foothills of the Schwäbische Alb. The castle was first constructed in the early 11th century.When the Hohenzollern family split into cadet branches, the castle remained the property of the Swabian branch of the family, who were the dynastic seniors of the Franconian/Brandenburg branch that later acquired an imperial throne. The castle was completely destroyed after a 10-month siege in 1423 by the imperial cities of Swabia. A second, larger and more sturdy castle was constructed from 1454 to 1461, and served as a refuge for the Catholic Swabian Hohenzollerns during wartime; including during the Thirty Years' War. By the end of the 18th century, however, the castle was thought to have lost its strategic importance and gradually fell into disrepair, leading to the demolition of several dilapidated buildings. Today, only the chapel remains from the medieval castle.
The third version of the castle, which stands today, was constructed for King Frederick William IV of Prussia between 1846 and 1867. The castle was built under the direction of architect Friedrich August Stüler, who based his design on English Gothic Revival architecture and the Châteaux of the Loire Valley.The castle was built as a family memorial, thus, no member of the Hohenzollern family was in permanent or regular residence when it was completed. In 1945 it became home to the last German/Prussian Crown Prince - Wilhelm - who is buried there with his wife, Crown Princess Cecilie.
Among the historical artifacts of Prussian history contained in the castle are the Crown of Wilhelm II, some of the personal effects of King Frederick the Great and a letter from US President George Washington thanking Baron von Steuben for his service in the American Revolutionary War. The castle is today a popular tourist destination.After the castle was rebuilt, it was not regularly occupied, but rather used primarily as a showpiece. Only the last Prussian Crown Prince William lived in the castle for several months, following his flight from Potsdam during the closing months of World War II. William and his wife Crown Princess Cecilie are both buried at the castle, as the family's estates in Brandenburg had been occupied by the Soviet Union.Since 1952, the castle has been filled with art and historical artifacts, from the collection of the Hohenzollern family and from the former Hollenzollern Museum in Schloss Monbijou. Two of the major pieces in the collection are the Prussian king's crown and a uniform that belonged to Frederick the Great. From 1952 until 1991, the caskets of Frederick Wilhelm I and Frederick the Great were in the museum. Following the German reunification in 1991, the caskets were moved back to Potsdam.
On 3 September 1978, the Hohenzollern Castle closed after sustaining extensive damage due to an earthquake in the Alb region that injured 15 persons in the cities of Tailfingen, Burladingen and Onstmettingen, Albstadt. An additional 20 people were trapped by falling rubble.
Hohenzollern castle is still privately owned. Two-thirds of the castle belongs to the Brandenburg-Prussian line of the Hohenzollern, while one-third is owned by the Swabian line of the family. Since 1954, the castle has also been used by the Princess Kira of Prussia Foundation to provide a summer camp for needy children from Berlin. Hohenzollern castle has over 300,000 visitors per year, making it one of the most visited castles in Germany.