Festung Marienberg in Würzburg

Archiv und Bibliothek des Bistums Würzburg


Until the construction of the Würzburg Residence by Balthasar Neumann, the castle on the Marienberg served the Würzburg prince-bishops as a representative residence, administrative and economic centre and a state fortress. Built around 1200 as a medieval castle, it offered the prince-bishops protection from the town's citizens who were striving for autonomy. The peasant uprising in Franconia had failed at its walls in 1525. After a major fire in 1572, Julius Echter (1573-1617) began an extensive reconstruction programme. He had living and representation rooms and a new court library installed in the south wing. The mighty tower completed the medieval fortification wall. The Marienkirche church in the castle's inner courtyard was extended and is presumed to be the oldest church in the diocese. The other wings housed the chancery and archives, the court chamber and farm buildings. Echter won over the Nuremberg master craftsman Jakob Wolff the Elder (1546-1612) for the reconstruction. The construction work dragged on for 30 years, during which time the fortress was redesigned in the Renaissance style using the undamaged parts of the building. The defensive structures were also fundamentally overhauled. A completely new forecourt was built with bastions, service wings and a large watering place for horses in the inner courtyard on the less well protected west side of the fortress. The mighty walls of the Echter bastion can also be seen as a military response to modern artillery. The fortified Echter gate formed the new entrance to the castle. Echter had his work documented throughout the fortress by inscriptions and coats of arms. The entire appearance of Marienberg Fortress, visible from afar, can still to the present day be traced back largely to Echter's reconstructions.

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