The large new parish church for court and town was begun in 1707. It substituted the medieval Stiftskirche which was old and crumbling, and did not match the big plans of Count Johann Ernst for a modern baroque residence. As a protestant ruler he was at the same time the bishop of the protestant church in his country, hence the central church had high priority. Located on the borderline between palace and court gardens on two sides, the market square and the town on the other, it was accessible for people from all spheres and united the entire population of the residence during Sunday service. In January 1712 the first service was celebrated in the new church. The final completion took until 1713.
Julius Ludwig Rothweil, the court architect, designed a multifunctional building. The square block comprises the church, the steeple, and the town hall. From market square one does not even see the church. You look at the steeple and the facade of the town hall which has been inserted into the building complex. The citizens' entrance into the church leads through the town hall. The Count and his entourage used a covered passage through the orangerie wing while the lower charges and servants of the court entered through the door from the gardens.
The tall steeple also had another function. A large water container was installed on its top floor to provide the necessary pressure for the fountains in the palace gardens.
The church in Weilburg is, sort of, my favourite baby in my work as art historian. Protestant church architecture in the region of Hessen and Nassau has been the topic of my dissertation and a lot of further research.
I will better not mention here that I wrote the guide booklet and a couple of other things that can be found on the book table in the church, or this here will be considered spam;-)
This church is a First League example of protestant church architecture in Germany, certainly the top protestant church from the baroque era in the state of Hessen, and full of art works designed to match Lutheran theology. The name "Schlosskirche", palace church, doesn't cover it all because it was built both as court church for the palace's inmates and parish church for the town and four surrounding villages. It is of highest historical interest because we know so much about it.
In Weilburg any historian's dream came true: During a renovation in the 1990's, a very ugly paneled wall in the sacresty was removed. Nobody expected anything than a solid stone wall behind this protective cover, but a big surprise was hidden there: a shelf over the whole length and height of the wall which contained the old archive of the parish community, with invaluable documents from the 18th and 19th century. I was one of the first professionals who were allowed to use it for research.
I found, for example, long lists about the seats in the church and their distribution. Everyone had an assigned seat for lifetime which he or she had to pay for. The community was sorted by their social state (court members - citizens - servants - people from the villages), sex, family state (married - unmarried - children) and so on. We hear about the troubles to distribute the seats, lack of room as there weren't enough seats for everyone, the quarrels and even fights for particular seats, misbehaviour during services, and the troubles of the poor parson who had to organize it all. An interesting topic which tells a lot about society in the age of absolutism.
One step lower than the main palace a large building complex was added to accommodate the stables for horses and cattle and most of the court's economy. A part of it was later transformed into residential quarters for members of the noble family, hence the name Prinzessinnenbau.
The side wing towards Langgasse is the former riding hall. Two sculpted horses ornate its portal and indicate the function of the building.
The stable wings are nowadays occupied by Schlosshotel Weilburg, the most upscale hotel in town.
The gardens behind palace and church are a public park now and can be entered for free during the daytime (the gates are closed at night). In former times, though, access was limited to the members of the court. The citizens of the town were not allowed to enter.
The gardens are part of the big plan Count Johann Ernst and his court architect Julius Ludwig Rothweil designed to turn castle and town into a baroque residence. Formal gardens are an inevitable part of any baroque palace. The topography of the ground prevented a regular and symmetric design. A terrace with huge substructions was built on the edge of the rock in order to create some flat space for the gardens.
To cover the descent towards the land side the gardens form a couple of narrow terraces connected by stairs. Instead of a solid wall the first terrace is formed by another orangerie wing, known as the "lower" orangerie (photo 3). Its roof is at the same time the end of the upper garden parterre.
Note the beautiful wrought-iron gates and the urns on the walls (pjhoto 4), both painted in turquoise and gold.
The orangerie wing between palace and church was built during the era of Count Johann Ernst in 1703-1705, designed by court architect Julius Ludwig Rothweil. The concave facade forms the background of the gardens. The orangerie served not only as greenhouse for sensitive plants in winter, it had a couple of other purposes. It was used as festival hall for court festivities. The upper floor contains a long gallery which connects palace and church and leads straight into the boxes for the count and the noble courtiers. The count and his entourage were hence able to enter the church unseen and without setting foot outdoors (the weather in Weilburg is rather unreliable, eh).
The prettiest architecture Weilburg has to offer is the courtyard of the palace. While the outside facades are all pure renaissance, the courtyard is a mix of styles. In here, Johann Ernst's big reembellishment project for the residence town after 1700 has left its marks, too. The two large towers, the irregular facades of the different wings, the elaborate portals and colourful coats of arms create a picturesque appearance. Nevertheless watch your stels - beware of the cobblestones.
Not to be missed is the fountain with the lion (photos 1 and 5), an addition of the era Johann Ernst. The lion holds tow shields with what looks like a confusing maze of golden lines on each. These aren't ornaments, the lines form letters, the letters form the monograms of Count Johann Ernst and his wife Maria Polyxena and the initials of their full titles. Try to find at least JE and MP...
The courtyard can be visited for free any time during the day, it closes at nightfall. During the festival of music in summer, open air concerts take place in the courtyard; in those weeks it might be closed for rehearsals.
Weilburg's palace has been the residence of the Counts of Nassau-Weilburg since the middle ages. The history of the dynasty of Nassau is rather complicated as it is divided in two main and countless side lines, so I won't go into details. Nassau-Weilburg ruled a medium-sized territory with property along the middle Lahn valley and up into the Westerwald hills, with Weilburg as the centre and capital, and also on the left Rhine bank in vicinity to Palatine around Kirchheimbolanden.
It all began with a castle that was built on the rock above the Lahn valley in the 10th century. In the 16th century, when Weilburg became permanent residence of the counts, Count Philipp III had a renaissance palace built which matched the ideas and ambitions of those times. The palace consists of four wings around a central courtyard. This renaissance palace is still the core of the whole ensemble. In the early 18th century Count Johann Ernst had it extended and the whole town redesigned as a baroque residence. The 150 year old palace, however, remained as it was except refurbishments of the interior.
Johann Ernst's son and heir Carl August, who was promoted to Prince of Nassau-Weilburg in 1737, moved to Kirchheimbolanden west of the Rhine with his whole court and built a new palace and residence there, but Weilburg stayed the seat of the goverrnment. The dynasty continues to this very day, its successors are the present Granddukes of Luxembourg.
The interior of the palace can be visited with guided tours. It's strictly no photography inside, hence no photos of the rooms, sorry. It is worth joining a tour. You will get to see rooms in all four wings and the upper orangerie, splendid residential rooms of the counts and princes from different eras and also economy rooms like the large kitchen. The tour takes about 45 minutes.
Tuesday to Sunday, March - October 10:00-16:00, November - February 10:00-15:00; guided tours start every hour.
Entrance fee: adults 4 €, concessions 2.50 €
The courtyard and the gardens can be visited for free any time during the day, they close at nightfall.
The only shiptunnel of Germany can be found in Weilburg.
It was built to boost the economy in the Lahn region around Weilburg and in a greater thought to connect economically the Rhein with the Elbe. Finnished in 1847 it already lost importance in 1862 due to the upcoming railroad connection between the towns Koblenz and Giessen.
On a map you can see loop of the river Lahn which is shortend by the tunnel. The length of the tunnel is 195.26m, width is 5.60m, height is 6.30m, depth 1.75. Due to the waterlevel difference between the two sides of the tunnel, on one side there is a watergate.
Nowadays the tunnel is popular for those travelling on canoes.
More in German:
Very close to the market square in downtown Weilburg you will find the city and mining museum. The region around Weilburg was heavily mined in the past. In the museum you will get a good idea about this part of the towns past. To make this easier for you, you will find a rebuilt part of a mine.
In the part of the museum depicting other aspects of the cities past you will find small remains of a zeppelin (named Z II), which crashed on a rock in Weilburg in 1910. It was getting loose in Bad Homburg due to bad weather and crashed without any human casualties in Weilburg. The zeppelin was the second built by Graf Zeppelin.
More things to see are about the life of people in and around town.
Being around Weilburg you should come into town and visit the castle. It is dominating the city with its beautiful location on top of a hill. Built in the 16th century and expanded in the 18th century it is a good example as a small absolutism styled castle.
Beside the beautiful interior I like the garden very much. Due to the integration of the castle in the city it is good to be combine with a stroll through Weilburg.
I've done all kinds of boat trips in different parts of the world,but i must say the day i spent in a canoe with my wife and daughter on the Lahn was a day i will not soon forget.
There was alot more to do than just paddling down a river.
For example...see the pictures attached.
O! Why am i adding this to my Weilburg page?
Because Weilburg is one of the starting points offered by the tour company.
If you've made it to and through the caves,then you might as well go around the corner and pay the Wildpark Tiergarten Weilburg a visit.
It's a nice way to put some fresh air back into the lungs after being so deep underground for such a long period of time ;-)
For the early risers who may decide to skip breakfast before going to visit the caves on a Sunday morning,dont worry the resturant next to the entranceway offers a breakfast buffet for €3.90 p.p. from 09:00-11:30.
This ferry boat is called 'Rolls boat' and is moved by a wire rope. The wire rope goes from one side of the river Lahn to the other side and the ferryman pulls the boat manually over the Lahn, using this rope. It's only used to transport persons.
If you are on the opposite site of Weilburg center at the jetty, you'll see a little path that goes up to the so-called 'Tempelchen', a viewpoint with a beautiful view on Weilburg!
The boat goes Sundays and holidays, 14:00 to 17:00.
Adults 0,50 Euro, children 0,25 Euro.
In earlier times there had been a bridge for the water supply, which was made up of several chains. Therefore the bridge is also called "Chain bridge". Officially, it is called "Ernst Dienstbach Footbridge" as Ernst Dienstbach has left lots of money after his death 1932 to build a footbridge at this place.
If you come from Weilburg center and cross the bridge, you'll stand in a woodland. If you climb up a bit, you'll reach a place with a little tower, from there you have a good view on Weilburg. Also, on this side is a nice path along the river Lahn which leads into direction Odersbach.