800 Years of Königstein Castle and Fortress

around 1000 BC

Decorated fragment of a large Bronze Age storage vessel. Festung Königstein gGmbH / Matthias Hultsch

A find of shards from Bronze Age provide evidence of the earliest human activities on Königstein.

The Königstein in the Middle Ages


In a document of King Wenzel I from Bohemia a “Burgrave Gebhard vom Stein” is mentioned – probably the oldest written mention of a castle on Königstein mountain. The area belonged to the Bohemian Kingdom at that time.


Upper Lausitz Border Decree
Upper Lausitz Border Decree Festung Königstein gGmbH

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").



The Golden Bull of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor Wikimedia Creative Commons

Emperor Charles IV stays at Königstein Castle, which is henceforth called the "Kaiserburg" [Emperor's Castle].

1406/ 1409

Margrave William the One-Eyed Wikimedia Creative Commons

The castle falls into the hands of the Wettin noble family in a feud (a military conflict of local lords).


With the Treaty of Eger, Königstein permanently becomes part of Saxony.


The monastery gate hidden in a cavity behind the fortress wall Bernd Walther

Twelve Coelestin monks and one prior occupy the "Monastery for the Praise of Marys Miracles" established by Duke George the Bearded on Königstein. The monastery was dissolved in 1542.

The expansion into a fortress


View into the well shaft Festung Königstein gGmbH

Elector Augustus of Saxony (1526-1586) was considering turning Königstein into a fortress. The most important precondition for this is a an independent source of water. For this reason, the second deepest historical well in Germany (152.5 metres) is sunk under the direction of Martin Planer, a master miner from Freiberg.


Portrait of th chief court preacher Martin Mirius Wikimedia Creative Commons

The first state prisoner, Dr. Martin Mirus, is brought to the Königstein in this year. Until 1922, Königstein is Saxony's most important state prison. The prisoner list includes more than 1,000 names.

Exhibition: Imprisoned at Königstein Hill


Diorama of the fortress construction site Matthias Hultsch

The Elector Christian I orders the expansion of the castle to a state fortress. The Gate house, the Strike defences, the Old barracks, Christians (later: Fredericks) Castle and the Old armoury are built by 1594.
In the following centuries, the defences were repeatedly rebuilt and extended so that no enemy would dare to attack the fortress. Due to its military impregnability, the Saxon sovereigns sought refuge here in troubled times and kept art treasures and the state treasure here.

The fortress in the 17th century


Execution of the fortress commander Wolf Friedrich Beon for embezzlement of fortress goods and cutting down the fortress forest


Historical view of Magdalene's Castle in the 17th century Festung Königstein gGmbH

Because of its scenic location, Königstein is also a popular destination for court excursions and a venue for numerous festivities. For example, the festive inauguration of the renovated Georges castle takes place in the presence of Elector Johann Georg I of Saxony. He initiated the construction of further representative buildings on Königstein, including Magdalene's Castle and John's Hall.


The Saxon Elector Johann Georg I Festung Königstein gGmbH

The Swedes invade Saxony. They pass Königstein and set fire to the town of Königstein.

Annual military-historical spectacle with fictitious conquest:
"The Swedes conquer Königstein Fortress"


Commemorative medal for the inauguration of the Garrison Church Festung Königstein gGmbH

After renovation work, the Garrison Church on Königstein is consecrated in the presence of Elector Johann Georg II of Saxony.

The era of August the Strong


Tsar Peter the Great | Portrait, oil on canvas Festung Königstein gGmbH

First visit of the Russian Tsar.
In 1712 he visited the fortress for the second time. The Saxon rulers often traveled to Königstein Fortress with distinguished guests for entertainment.


Portrait of Johann Friedrich Böttger Foto: Festung Königstein gGmbH

The later co-inventor of European porcelain, Johann Friedrich Böttger, is imprisoned for the second time on the Königstein by order of Augustus the Strong. He had already been imprisoned here for 3 months in 1702.

Exhibition: Imprisoned at Königstein Hill


The giant wine cask at Königstein Fortress Festung Königstein gGmbH

At the request of Augustus the Strong, the largest Königstein wine barrel (238,600 litres), which stood in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg until 1819, is completed. At that time, and to this day, it was the largest wine barrel in Europe that was actually filled to the brim. After its demolition, such a capacity was never again achieved in a barrel.

Today in the Giant Cask Cellar:
A modern replica of the barrel - a multi-media artistic installation


The engineer-architect Jean de Bodt | oil painting Festung Königstein gGmbH

Preliminary completion of the fortress expansion under Elector Friedrich August II. Work began on militarily strengthening the foreland of the fortress. With the numerous newly built barracks, powder magazines and the now finally bomb-proof well house, Königstein reaches its greatest state of expansion.


The capture of the Saxon army by the Prussians at the Lilienstein. Festung Königstein gGmbH

The Saxon army is captured on the Lilienstein plateau. The Elector and his court had taken refuge on Königstein and had to watch the defeat of his army. Afterwards, the fortress is declared neutral.

The Königstein in Napoleonic Times


The first King of Saxony: Friedrich August I. Festung Königstein gGmbH

Saxony becomes a kingdom and joins the Confederation of the Rhine, a federation of German states founded under the domination of Napoleon. Königstein Fortress becomes a Fortress of the Confederation of the Rhine.


Napoleon I - Emperor of the French | Marble Bust Festung Königstein gGmbH

Napoleon inspects the Königstein and the fortress becomes an important part of his further strategic planning.



The Königstein is now the only fortress remaining in Saxon possession and is therefore strengthened by the extension of some buildings.

Troubled times in the 19th century


Sebastian Abratzky was the fist to climb the Königstein
Sebastian Abratzky (photo around 1880) Festung Königstein gGmbH

The journeyman chimney sweep Sebastian Abratzky climbs the Königstein barefoot through a crevice. The only "conquest" of the fortress up to then ended for him with several days of arrest.


The Russian revolutionary Michael Alexander Bakunin Heinrich Ditlev Mitreuter (Wikimedia Commons, gemeinfrei)

During the May Uprising in Dresden, the Königstein once again serves as a refuge for the Saxon royal family. After the suppression of the uprising, the arrested revolutionaries are sent to the local state prison.


Treasury House 1900 Festung Königstein gGmbH

For the last time in its history, a cannon is fired from the Königstein at an enemy Prussian patrol.

After the war, the Königstein is given a foreign garrison for the first and only time, a Prussian commander and a Prussian infantry crew.


The fortress at the end of the 19th century


A camp for French prisoners of war is set up on Königstein for the first time in its history. The ordinary soldiers have to bring the earth to the fortress for the construction of the new battery ramparts.

The ammunition loading system of Battery 6 and 7, built in 1887-1890. Bernd Walther

Königstein is the only Saxon fortress to be incorporated into the new imperial fortress system and is therefore intensively expanded for the last time in its history, this time primarily underground, into a blocking fort.


August Bebel (undated etching) Festung Königstein gGmbH

The famous German social democrat August Bebel is taken to Königstein for 3 weeks as a state prisoner.


The German Reichstag strucks the commander's position from the military budget and thereby abolishes the fortress status of Königstein.

From the two world wars
to the foundation of the museum


Prisoners of war of the First World War at Königstein Fortress Festung Königstein gGmbH

Königstein becomes a prisoner of war camp for the second time, this time for Russian and French officers and generals.


Peacetime hospital in 1929 Festung Königstein gGmbH

A Reichswehr spa hospital is set up in the Peacetime hospital.


The Old Armoury in 1920

The last state prisoner will be released on June 3rd. He was imprisoned for 10 days for "dueling with deadly weapons.”


French and Dutch prisoners of war Festung Königstein gGmbH

The fortress becomes a prisoner of war camp for the third time, first for Polish, later for French officers and generals.


General Henri Giraud - Portrait photo Festung Königstein gGmbH

Henri Giraud was the only French general to manage to escape from the officers' prison camp to neutral Switzerland during the Second World War.


The crew hands over command to the French prisoners of war. The prison camp is later evacuated by an American special unit and the fortress is occupied by the Red Army, which sets up a hospital on the Königstein.


Entrance gate of the Juvenile Detention Center 1953/43 Festung Königstein gGmbH

Königstein Fortress accommodated a juvenile detention centre. Young people who were politically suspect or had, in the post-war confusion, committed criminal acts, were educated and trained here into “communist personas”.


Handover of the key to the first director of the Königstein Fortress Museum. Festung Königstein

With the founding of the Königstein Fortress Museum, the 9.5-hectare complex is opend to the public as a military and historical open air museum.


"Die faule Magd" (The 'Lazy Maid') in the Weapons Museum in the Old Armoury Alfred Hering / Archiv Festung Königstein

For the first time, exhibitions are being simultaneously presented in five buildings on the fortress.


Exhibition “Military Technology and Social Order – From Flintlock to Combat Rocket” Festung Königstein gGmbH

The German Army Museum Potsdam opens its first guest exhibition in the New Armoury.

The fortress after the German reunification


Königstein Fortress becomes the property of the Free State of Saxony and is managed by the State Castle Administration. A comprehensive utilization concept is developed.


Reconstructed lifting table modelled on the 18th century machine panel Bernd Walther

Based on the usage concept, extensive construction work begins to irrigate and drain the fortress. This is followed by the complete renovation of numerous buildings, such as the  Barracks and Fredericks's Castle.


The water extraction is demonstrated daily from April to October. Bernd Walther

In the course of the well renovation, 160,000 litres of water are pumped out and, for the first time since 1569, people are standing on the 152.5 metre deep well bottom.


The fortress is separated from the association of state-owned castles and becomes an independent operating company of the Free State of Saxony.


Former logo of Königstein Fortress (2003 - 2014) Peter Mauksch

The operating company (GmbH) is converted into a non-profit company (gGmbH).


Panoramalift Festung Königstein gGmbH

During the continuation of the renovation work, among other things, the panorama lift was built and the event restaurant "In the casemates" was set up.


Werbemotiv der Ausstellung

Opening of the first permanent exhibition on the history of Königstein "In Lapide Regis" in the previously completely renovated rooms of the Gate House and the Strike defence.

Exhibition In lapide regis - On the King's Stone


The west building and the defence structures at the entrance Bernd Walther

The completion of Georges Castle and its exhibition and administration rooms marks the end of the largest construction project, the renovation of the so-called West Building.

Festung Königstein gGmbH
01824 Königstein

Phone: +49 (0)35021 64 607

Opening hours

April - October 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
November - March 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Last admission 1 hour before closing time