Konigstein Fortress

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Konigstein Fortress (German: Festung Konigstein), the “Saxon Bastille”, is a hilltop fortress near Dresden, in Saxon Switzerland, Germany,

Above the town of Konigstein on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe and sits atop the table hill of the same name. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe. The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony’s foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Konigstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233, in which a witness is named as “Burgrave Gebhard of Stein”. At that time the region was split between the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Bishopric of Meissen. The medieval castle belonged to the Kingdom of Bohemia. Its first full description as Konigstein (“King’s Rock”) occurred in the Upper Lusatian Border Charter (Oberlausitzer Grenzurkunde) of 1241, that Wenceslas I “in lapide regis” (Lat.: at the rock of the king) sealed. In this charter the demarcation of the border between the Slavic Gauen of Milska (Upper Lusatia), Nisani (Mei?en Depression) and Dacena (Tetschen region) was laid down. Because the Konigstein lay left of the Elbe, it was independent of the 3 aforementioned Gauen.

It belonged at that time to the Kingdom of Bohemia and was expanded by order of the Bohemian kings, as the Elbe became more intensively used as a trade route, into a fortified site that dominated the north of their territories, controlling the Elbe above Pirna, and an outpost of strategically important Dohna Castle located in the nearby Muglitz.

Well of Konigstein Fortress It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Konigstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle – until that point the garrison of the Konigstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater. During the construction of the well some 8 cubic metres of water had to be removed from the shaft every day.

Because Konigstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

Entranceway : Since 29 May 1955, the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value. The museum has been managed as a satellite of the Bundeswehr Military History Museum in Dresden since 1990. In the years 1967 to 1970, a lift was built at the foot of the access path for 42 people. A second lift was built in 2005 against a vertical wall of the fortress, which transports up to 18 passengers in a lift with a panoramic view to a height of about 42 metres. The state of Saxony made 1.7 million euros available for the project. The lift opened Easter 2006.

Between 1991 and 2010, a total of about 46 million euros was invested by the Free State of Saxony on the renovation and upgrade of Konigstein Fortress. The museum welcomed its 25 millionth visitor on 14 October 2005 since it opened Whitsun 1955.

Access : Coordinates : 50.91888914.056667 / By car :  via A17 (Dresden – Pirna), exit Pirna, further along B172 towards Bad Schandau  By city rail : S1 (Dresden – Koenigstein – Schoena) By bus : bus line 241 (Pirna – Koenigstein – Hinterhermsdorf) By steam ship :  Dresden – Koenigstein – Bad Schandau By Fortress Express :  starting from Koenigstein and from Koenigstein parking lot On foot :  signposted trails from Koenigstein up to the fortress (30 – 45 minutes) Next City: Dresden (39 km)

Opening hours : April to October  >  9:00 am – 6:00 pm / November to March > 9:00 am – 5:00 pm / Dec 24: closed

Ticket rates : Full rate 10,00 EUR , Reduced rate 7,00 EUR March 25 to October 31 ,  Full rate: EUR 10.00 Reduced rate: EUR 7.00 2 adults and up to 4 children: EUR 25.00 1 adult and up to 2 children: EUR 15.00 , November 1 to March 31 Full rate: EUR 8.00
Reduced rate: EUR 6.00 2 adults and up to 4 children: EUR 21.00 1 adult and up to 2 children: EUR 13.00 Higher ticket rates may apply at special events. Special rate at the Day of Prayer and Repentance (November 16, 2016): EUR 6.00 per person, EUR 13.00 per family!

Go next : Bad Schandauthe Bastei

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