Most fun for kids is to explore the extensive cellars. They are on two or three floors, created of sandstone and basalt, stairs leading up and down, sort of a labyrinth. You see a few exhibits, but mostly it's about getting lost in the cellars, finding an exit and showing up unexpectedly at some different place.
"Seigerturm" means Clock tower. This tower was built in the late Gothic era under the Bishops of Meißen, about the same time as Johannes (Cosel) tower. The gables were added in 1560. The rooms were living rooms. In one of those beautiful Renaissance frescos were discovered during the restoration some years ago (see pics 2 and 3).
The first clock was constructed 1562, replaced middle of the 18th century. The sandstone dial (see pic 4) was removed in 1938 and replaced by a more weatherproof one.
Views from the top floor are stunning!
The "Schösser" tower was built 1476 - 87, first as the Bishop's residence, later it was turned into offices for the tax collector - which is what "Schösser" meant in medieval times. The local Schösser collected the taxes for about 80 villages and two towns (Stolpen and Bischofswerda) in the region - quite a job!
The walls are 3 m thick. You can enter and see the room on the ground floor. Interesting is the small hole in the wall (pic 2, to the right) through which they listened in on the talks of the waiting people in front of the gate. Big brother was watching you even in medieval times!
In the basement were two dark and very humid jail "rooms".
This chapel was built 1355 and dedicated to St. Basilius and Sta. Barbara. In 1401 it was re-dedicated to St. Erasmus. Rich donations allowed magnificent decorations and seven altars for the chapel.
In 1559 with reformation the chapel was again redesigned as a protestant chapel by excellent craftsmen from Dresden.
In 1764 the mobile interior was taken to Dresden, the last mass was held in 1783. The French army's devastations left the chapel destroyed. The pulpit (1560), baptismal font (1561) and a crucifixus (1531) are nowadays in the burial chapel in the nearby town Bischofswerda.
In 1881 the grave of countess Cosel was found here.
This tower was built 1451 - 76 by the Bishops of Meissen. On the ground floor is an old kitchen preserved - probably the herbs kitchen of duchess Anna.
Originally the tower had six corners and spires plus one spire in the middle - so it was called seven spires tower. But in the big fire 1632 it lost its spires. They were replaced by a simple cap. In 1723 another fire damaged the tower.
Finally it was partially restored in 1997/98 and is now accessible. From the top you can enjoy great panoramic views.
This courtyard is the oldest part of the castle. It was surrounded by residential buildings of the Bishops of Meissen, which were rebuilt later for the Elector Dukes of Saxony. I read that the rooms with magnificent architecture were wonderfully decorated.
From 1764 on the decayed more and more. Napoleon Bonaparte's troops blew up the buildings in 1813. What a loss!
The Siebenspitzen (seven spires) tower is preserved in parts, accessible and makes an excellent viewpoint.
The tower was built 1509 and got the name of the Evangelist Johannes (John), the patron of diocese Meissen. The tower was an important part of the fortifications.
In the basement, accessible from the narrow area between the first and second wall that separates the courtyards, were cannons. Its architecture is a final point of the development of military fortification: Thick walls but large opening for the area that the cannons could reach. In the ground you see an opening to the former prison below (pic 2).
On the ground floor of the tower (access from the 3rd courtyard) is a room with an impressive cellular vault. It was a courtroom once.
The small tower with the staircase was added in Renaissance times. Later the tower has been home of the well-known prisoner countess Cosel, the mistress of Duke Elector August the Strong for more than 30 years. In her living rooms you can see an exhibit on her life. Very interesting! On the top floor is a parapet walk.
The third courtyard was also called "cannon yard". As the name indicates, cannons were placed at the walls.
In addition some economy buildings like forge, bakery, stables etc. were located in this yard. Two important towers are still to find here: the Johannis (Cosel) tower and the Seiger (clock) tower.
After passing the Kornhaus (and paying the entrance fee) you reach the 2nd courtyard, built in 1518 by erecting the Kornhaus building.
Like the 1st courtyard this one also has a cistern. A bridge of stone replaced a draw-bridge of wood, leading across the large cistern. See picture 2, with ice and snow covering the cistern.
Pic 3: Walking on you see to the left the Johannis (Cosel-) tower, to the right the Schösser tower. Let's continue the tour with the main Portal ...
The 1st courtyard is the newest part of the castle, created with building the fortifications (W. C. von Klengel, see previous tip) in 1675.
During a long time the courtyard served as herbs garden for the commander of the castle.
Leaving the 1st courtyard you enter a building which hosts the main guard room, the former stables, the corn house and the torture chamber.
This building was erected in 1518. In the stables you can see a beautiful Renaissance hall with vaulted ceiling, where an exhibition on the history of town and castle is presented.
Don't miss the torture chamber, where you can see some instruments for the "painful inquiry". Brrrrr.
The hall on the upper floor was nicely restored in the 1990s. Now they have (chamber music) concerts, recitals and theatre/cabaret there - make reservations early, it's very popular.
The first church at this place was built 1490 - 1500 under Bishop Johannes VI of Meissen. A fire destroyed the interior of this church in 1723. The nave was rebuilt in Baroque style, the choir remained in Gothic style. Most of the works of art date from the 18th century: the altar (1770), the pulpit and the font (1727).
Very beautiful are the paintings and the organ (both end 19th century). 1897 - 1900 the tower, which is actually a landmark of the town, was rebuilt.
The church was thoroughly restored recently and is usually open during the day.
The market square is quite special: since the town is built on the hillside the square is not flat but sloped. That makes that it looks almost like a theatre, with nice benches (and a monument for the basalt) under the trees on the upper part, where you can sit and watch what is going on on the lower part.
The square is surrounded by nice small houses from past centuries. Gives you the feeling of the good old times, an unspoilt and not crowded place.
Perched high on a basalt cliff, Stolpen Castle with its distinctive towers owes its fame to Countess Cosel. The repudiated mistress of August the Strong died in that place after 49 years of imprisonment and was buried in the castle chapel. An exhibition recalls her life and imprisonment. The dark dungeons and complex cellars, the torture chamber (however, Cosel had never been tortured) and the "hunger role" have more stories to share. Stolpen castle played a role in more than one of the armed conflicts in which Saxony was involved. The world's deepest basalt well and the fantastic views from the castle yards and towers make this place particularly worth seeing.
There are some extra exhibitions: history of medieval law, Stolpen as a Bishop's court etc.
Be careful, most interesting parts of the castle are located outside the building so it is not good idea to visit castle in winter, because usually it's raining or snowing. Also it's possible to talk with guides - sometimes they allow to open castle windows which is nice for making good pictures of the place.
It's not the best castle in Saxony, as for me, but it's important part of its history.
April-October: daily, from 9AM to 6PM
November-March: daily, from 10AM to 4PM (depending on the weather)
24th of December - closed.
Single entry ticket 4 euro
Reduced ticket (for ex. student) 2,5 euro
Family ticket 9 euro
In 1608 Elector Duke Christian II gave the order to build a well, which was of strategic importance for the castle.
It took 22 years for the mining workers from Freiberg to finish the well. With 82 meters it is one of the deepest ones in the world in basalt stone.