Sleeping Beauty Castle history
The Sleeping Beauty Castle or Dornröschenschloss as its known in German, has a long history by itself. However, one cannot talk about the Sleeping Beauty Castle without talking about the Brothers Grimm. The two famous German fairy tales writers Wilhem and Jakob Grimm are the ones who created the classical stories about Snow White, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel and many more. They also wrote the story about the Sleeping Beauty.
An inspiring site
Since many of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales was inspired by their own lives and their surroundings, people started to wonder where the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty came from. Already in the 19th century after the publication of the Brothers Grimm’s Fairy Tales, people imagined this very castle to be the place where the Sleeping Beauty tale must have come from. Partly because the Grimm Brothers spent time in the surrounding areas and also due to the ivy-covered castle’s sleeping look with its magnificent past and its hedges of thorns.
The castle was said to be sleeping as it was partly a ruin at the time the Grimm bothers lived. In the early 19th century, the castle was abandoned as a residence and it rapidly fell into disrepair, converting the castle to a wild romantic old ruin.
Founding of the castle
But lets wind back time a bit more and talk about the castle’s history some more. Once upon a time, the nearby village of Gottsbüren was seen as a holy site for Christians during the early 14th century. This drew many pilgrimages to the place which rapidly increased the city’s fame. In order to protect the village and the pilgrimages, the archbishop of Mainz founded the castle known as “Zapfenburg” in year 1334.
The castle also goes by the name Sababurg Castle. “Sababurg” comes from the legendary goddess of Saba – a name which was adopted at the end of the 16th century. The castle soon became the object of territorial disputes between the regions Mainz, Paderborn, Braunschweig and Hessen. The castle eventually split between Mains and Hessen, and later passed on to the local land lords in 1429. However, the castle quickly lost its political and military importance, and thus it fell more and more into ruins.
A new role
In the late 15th- and early 16th century, the castle was used as a base for the local foresters and as a place to keep wild horses. Later, Philipp I had the castle reconstructed in 1522 into a hunting lodge which he used frequently for hunts and festivals. An area outside of the castle, around one square kilometer, was laid out in 1571 and surrounded by a long wall. Inside were a vast range of northern “wild” animals. This served as a hunting ground for rich land owners and their friends.
During the Thirty Years War, the castle was badly damaged, but later rebuilt between 1649 and 1651.The so called “Welsch” domes that crowns the top of the two towers dates back to this period.
In the 18th century, the castle interior was embellished considerably and it was later refurnished in splendid fashion. However, as mentioned earlier, the castle was later abandoned as a residence. Also, during parts of the 19th century, some areas of the castle was demolished and the material used for other building projects. This gave the castle the ruinous and wild which inspired the Grimm Brothers to write their story of Sleeping Beauty.
Around 100 years later, during the early 20th century, the long sleep was over and the castle was kissed awake and restored for visitors.
Why visit the Sleeping Beauty Castle ?
The first word that comes to mind for a lot of people when looking at the Sleeping Beauty Castle is simply “enchanting”. No wonder..
Today, the surrounding wildlife area which once started as a hunting ground for the local landlords, has now grown into a full fledged zoo with focus on northern wild animals. Visitors can now observe a multitude of different animals at Sababurg’s Zoological Garden.
The over 650 year old castle itself is not only a site for visitors who want to experience the enchanting beauty of the real fairytale castle, but it also houses a romantic hotel, a theater and a restaurant.
The Sleeping Beauty Castle also has a stunning medieval castle garden. The garden grows herbs, vegetables, flowers and of course; roses. This garden is a must see – especially during the rose season.
Fairy tale route
The Sleeping Beauty Castle is one of the highlights of the scenic Fairy Tale Route in Germany, a route which takes you along the origins of many of the Brothers Grimms fairytales. You can easily understand why the brothers were captivated by the enchanting beauty the Sleeping Beauty Castle holds.
Just like in the story of the Sleeping Beauty, or “The beauty in the Forest” as the story is sometimes called, the wild returns to take over the castle which is exactly what happened to the castle here in Sababurg.
Sleeping Beauty Castle location
The Sleeping Beauty Castle is located in northern Hessen, Germany. The castle is hidden deep within the Reinhardswald forest, next to the small town of Sababurg. For the exact location of the Sleeping Beauty Castle, check out the location map to the right.