Renaissance castle from the 16th century with core of a feudal castle, from the 12th century onwards fortified residential castle, seat of the landed gentry, consisting of outer bailey and core of the castle with great hall and keep tower
When the Palace, Castle and Gardens Trust of Thuringia took over Ranis Castle in 1994, one of the roofs threatened to fall on to the small town of the same name situated in the Orlagau (immediate property of the king from the 9th-12th centuries). Although the town had already begun to take action against the decay of its emblem standing on a cliff, enormous sums still had and will have to be spent to save and repair this castle complex, which with a length of 240 metres and a width of 50 metres is exceptionally large. As is so often the case with such major projects not much of the work was visible at first as most of it had to be done underground, underneath the cladding or in similar places, where visitors either have no access or where they hardly notice any changes. Nonetheless, year after year the appearance of Ranis Castle is changing. For instance, since they were repaired and renovated the 13th-century keep as well as the former prison tower, also known as watch tower, can be seen shining from afar the valley of the river Orla.
The residential apartments on the ground floor of the northwest wing will reopen as a multipurpose hall. The south wing of this monument, altered in the mid-17th century and presently being used by the Thuringian literary academy with lively public response, is also being rehabilitated. If one considers that there is also the castle museum and a restaurant, it is obvious that not only the people of this town but the public in general have begun to take notice of Ranis Castle again.
Ranis Castle rises high above the town and is situated on a deeply fissured rock massif. The entire complex consists of the inner core, the outer bailey from the high Middle Ages, the late medieval eastern outer bailey and the eastern forefield. Archaeological excavations carried out parallel to the building works have unearthed finds indicating that this place was already fortified in the 9th century (see exhibition in the Museum Ilsenhöhle below the castle).
A document from 1084 confirming to Wiprecht von Groitzsch that he received several castles as a gift is usually considered to be the first reference to Ranis. In a document dating from 1199 Ranis Castle was named for the first time as an imperial castle of the German emperors and kings. The owners were the Schwarzburgers, the margraves of Meissen, the Wettiners, the Lords of Brandenstein and Breitenbuch as well as the Prussians. In the last century the castle belonged to the German Red Cross before American and Soviet forces occupied it.