Castle of the 13th cent., extended in the 14th cent. by the House of Schwarzburg, compact castle ruin with rounded corners situated on a spur at the end of a range of hills
In Thuringia there are several late medieval castles like Ehrenstein castle ruin, located between the towns of Rudolstadt and Stadtilm. Nonetheless, due to its state of conservation and its architecture the imposing ruin rising on a peak above the town of Ehrenstein ranks as one of the most remarkable castle complexes from that period in this region.
Blocked off by a 12-metre wide frontal ditch and an outer bailey there are the remains of a fortified building erected of local stone and with a floor space of 36 x 11 metres. The fact that the building shows no joints is an indication that the multi-storeyed residential building preserved up to the height of the eaves was erected at the same time as the 30-metre high square-shaped keep in the east. The latter’s rounded corners can also be found at the western end of the residential building – bearing witness to the fortified character of the castle complex just as much as the outer ward around the core with its many firing slits.
Although there are still many open questions concerning Ehrenstein castle ruin, according to recent research it seems certain that the castle was first documented in 1346. It is also very likely that the core of the castle was erected in the first half of the 14th century. The Schwarzburg dynasty who built the castle owned it for centuries. However, for financial reasons the following owners, the counts of Gleichen, were forced to mortgage the castle in the mid-16th century. More changes of owners were to come, but documents dating from around 1630 already described Ehrenstein as a “deserted castle”. Nonetheless, it took another century before the fate of the empty castle was finally sealed by demolishing the roof of the residential building.
There is free access to this ruin which was taken over by the Palace, Castle and Gardens Trust of Thuringia in 1995.