Hohenzollern Castle is a castle approximately 50 kilometers (31 mi) 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 (Mount) Hohenzollern, at an elevation of 855 meters (2,805 ft) above sea level; 234 m (768 ft) 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 former Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, son of the last Hohenzollern monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm II, 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.
The castle is located on top of Mount Hohenzollern, an isolated mountain 855 m (2,805 ft) above sea level. Among the locals this mountain is known as Zollerberg (Zoller Mountain) or simply as Zoller. Located on the western side of the Schwäbische 'Alb' region and close to Hechingen, the mountain lends its name to the local geographic region, der Zollernalbkreis
The first Medieval castle of the House of Hohenzollern was mentioned for the first time in 1267. However the castle appears to date back to the 11th century. In 1423, the castle was besieged for over a year by troops from the Swabian Free Imperial Cities. On 15 May 1423, the castle was finally taken and totally destroyed. Of the first castle only written records still exist.
In 1454, construction on the second castle began. While this castle was much stronger than the first, during the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) it was captured by Württemberg troops in 1634. Following the Thirty Years' War the castle was under Habsburg control for about a century. During the War of the Austrian Succession (1740–1748), the castle was occupied by French soldiers during the Winter of 1744/45. Following the war, the Habsburgs continued to own the castle, but it was rarely occupied. When the last Austrian owner left the castle in 1798 it began to totally fall to ruins. By the beginning of the 19th century the castle was a ruin, with only the Chapel of St. Michael remaining usable.
View of the castle and surrounding countryside One of the castle towers Central courtyard of the Castle The castle was rebuilt by Crown-Prince (and later King) Frederick William IV of Prussia. During a trip to Italy in 1819, he traveled through southern Germany and wished to learn about his family's roots, so climbed to the top of Mount Hohenzollern. The current castle is the work of the famous Berlin Architect Friedrich August Stüler, who, while still the student and heir of Karl Friedrich Schinkel, was appointed the Architect of the King in 1842. The castle is constructed in the Gothic Revival style. The impressive entryway is the work of the Engineer-Officer Moritz Karl Ernst von Prittwitz who was considered the leading fortifications engineer in Prussia. The sculptures around and inside the castle are the work of Gustav Willgohs. The Hohenzollern Castle is a monument to the ideals of the German Romanticism movement and incorporated the idealized vision of what a medieval knight's castle should be. In this way, Hohenzollern Castle is similar to Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, though without the fantastic elements that cover Neuschwanstein. The castle also served to enhance the reputation of the Prussian Royal Family, by rebuilding the ancestral castle in such an ornate form. Construction began in 1850, and was funded entirely by the Brandenburg-Prussian and the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen lines of the Hohenzollern family. Seventeen years later construction was completed on 3 October 1867 under Frederick William IV's brother King William I. The castle was damaged in an earthquake on 3 September 1978, and was under repair until the mid-1990s.