History

Festung Königstein (Königstein Fortress) is a unique monument to the art of European fortress construction. Its 750 years' history have made it an impressive configuration of late Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and 19th century architecture.

The museum

2000

the fortress became a private limited operating company and, since 2003, a gGmbH

1991

the Königstein Fortress became the property of the Free State of Saxony

1955

the 9.5 hectare fortress complex is opened to the public as a military and historical open air museum

The 19th an 20th centuries

1949

the fortress was used as a youth reform camp; young people who were politically suspect or had, in the post-war confusion, committed criminal acts, were educated and trained here

1945

in 1945 the garrison hands over the command of the fortress to the French prisoners of war; later the prisoner of war camp is evacuated by special American forces and the fortress is occupied by the Red Army who establish a military hospital on Königstein

1942

the French general Henri Giraud succeeds in fleeing from the officers camp

1939

prisoner of war camp, initially for Polish prisoners, later for French officers and generals

1921

converted into a spa hospital for recovering soldiers

1914

camp for captured Russian and French officers and soldiers

1913

the post of commandant is struck from the military budget and Königstein no longer plays the role of a true fortress

1871

after the German Reich, or empire, is established, Königstein is the only Saxon element in the Germany-wide system of fortresses and is given a Saxon garrison once again

1870

during the German-French War the fortress is first used as a prisoner of war camp

1866

after the Prussian-Austrian War in which Saxony was on the losing side, a Prussian commandant and Prussian soldiers occupy Königstein Fortress

1849

the May uprising in Dresden sees the Königstein serve once more as a refuge for the Saxon royal family; after the suppression of the uprising, the revolutionaries are taken here as prisoners

1848

the only time the fortress was "stormed", by the chimney-sweep Sebastian Abratzky

Napoleon

1815

Saxony loses a large proportion of its territory in the Vienna Congress; Königstein is Saxonys only remaining country fortress

1813

Napoleon inspects Königstein Fortress

1806

Saxony becomes a kingdom, standing in the favour of Napoleon, and Königstein Fortress becomes a Fortress of the Confederation of the Rhine

The era of August the Strong

1756

capture of the Saxon army on the plain at Lilienstein at the start of the Seven Year War (1756-63); the Elector and his court retreated to the safety of Königstein; the fortress is declared neutral

1728

the visit of the "Soldier King" Frederick William I of Prussia and his son, Crown Prince Frederick (later King Frederick II)

1725

Königsteins largest wine cask was made by order of Saxonys ruler August the Strong; it held 238,000 litres and stood in the Magdalenenburg (Magdalenes Castle) cellar until 1818; with this feat, he defeated the Palatinate elector in the bet to see who could build the biggest wine cask (his competitors effort can still be seen in Heidelberg Castle today)

1712

second visit from Tsar Peter I

1698

first visit of the Russian tsar

The state prison

until 1922

Further famous prisoners include:
Johann Friedrich Böttger, the co-inventor of European porcelain (1706-1707),
the Russian revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin (1849) and
the social democrat August Bebel (1874)
It is the most feared prison of the state of Saxony until 1922.

1591

the first state prisoner is brought to the Königstein in this year, Chancellor Dr. Nikolaus Krell

The conversion to a fortress

1589

the Elector Christian I orders the conversion of the castle to a country fortress; the gate house, the raking defences, the old barracks, Christians (later: Fredericks) Castle and the old armoury are built by 1594; from that time on, the fortress defences have continually been modernised to keep up with the times; no enemy has ever attempted to attack the fortress - due to its impregnable nature, Saxons rulers often fled behind its thick walls in troubled times, taking their works of art and the state treasure with them; its enchanting countryside location made it a favourite destination for excursions by members of the Saxon court and the setting for many a feast or banquet

The monastery

1563

by order the elector August, the deepest well in Saxony is sunk (152.5 m) under supervision of the master miner Martin Planer from Freiberg; the independent water source is an important condition for the fortress construction

1516

twelve Coelestin monks and one prior occupy the Monastery for the Praise of Marys Miracles established by Duke George the Bearded on Königstein; dissolved in 1524

The medieval castle

1459

the Eger contract gives a legal basis for this state of affairs

1406/ 1408

the castle falls into the hands of the Wettin noble family in a feud (the Wettins are the rulers of Saxony)

1241

the first mention of the Königstein in a document; King Wenceslas I of Bohemia affixes his seal to the Upper Lausitz Border Decree "in lapide regis" ("on the stone of the King", Königstein is the German for Kings stone); a medieval castle exists on the rocky plateau; it is the property of the Bohemian kingdom.

1233

probably the oldest written mention of a castle on Königstein mountain; a “Burgrave Gebhard vom Stein” is mentioned in a document of King Wenzel I from Bohemia; the medieval castle belonged to the Bohemian kingdom