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Visiting the Yburg, Germany: ruined, Medieval fortress in the Black Forest

Updated on November 5, 2011
Flag of Germany
Flag of Germany | Source
Yburg ruins, Black Forest
Yburg ruins, Black Forest | Source
View from the Yburg of Neuweier and the Rhine Plain
View from the Yburg of Neuweier and the Rhine Plain | Source
Map location of Baden-Baden, Germany
Map location of Baden-Baden, Germany | Source

Bishops and French Revolutionaries taking turns to destroy it

I chose a 'bad' day for visiting this ruined castle. A cloudy, rainy day cast shadows across the forested undulations of the surrounding Black Forest, craggy features of the ruins made all the more sinister-looking by the challenging climatic conditions.

Actually, I now think it was a 'good' day to see the ruins of the Yburg. Because the impression given was all the more memorable!

Be this as it may, the Yburg is situated on a mountain known as — wait for it — the Yberg, 515 metres high.

So please note:

The fortress is the Yburg;

The mountain is the Yberg; got that?

(Sort of, the Medieval way of saying: You've read the book; now watch the movie.)

The Yburg is situated within the district of Baden-Baden, in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, close to the localities of Steinbach, Neuweier and Varnhalt. The fortress dates from approximately 1200, although records are unclear about the exact date of its building. What is definitely known is that the mountain on which the fortress is built was for a long period in the Middle Ages the property of the Margraves of Baden.

Then it was destroyed.

So, firstly, the Yburg was destroyed in 1333.

Subsequently, it was destroyed in 1525.

Later, at the end of the 18th century, it was destroyed once more.

So who would do a thing like that? Well, for a start, it's not surprising that Medieval fortresses become the focal point of military rivalry and conflict.

But, wait for this: on one of the occasions of the destruction, the Bishop of Strasbourg did it. North Americans sometimes need to be reminded that in the Middle Ages, bishops were far from merely benevolent practitioners of the cloth (1). They were often potentates and power-brokers. In the case of the Yburg's Margrave owner, he had evidently annoyed the Bishop sufficiently.

Much later, it was the turn of the French Revolutionaries to do the destroying. And so it went.

During the Imperial German period after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, there were efforts to restore the Yburg, but these were not with any military purpose in view. Instead, an inn was built by the walls of the fortress.

I reckon I prefer to think of the Yburg as an inn for vacationers rather than as a place for target practice by warrior bishops or by demolition-friendly Revolutionaries. Don't you?


(1) It should be remembered also that until 1871 there was no united Germany, and Strasbourg was not yet in the Middle Ages part of France.

Also worth seeing

Baden-Baden (distance: 9.8 kilometres) has historically been a popular spa city, with many fine buildings.


How to get there: Lufthansa flies to Frankfurt-am-Main (distance from Baden-Baden : 178 kilometres), from where car hire is available. The railroad company DB maintains a service between Frankfurt-am-Main and Baden-Baden. Some facilities may be withdrawn, without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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