Adolf’s Tower and St George Fountain
An immediate estate in the Holy Roman Empire – the relics of Friedberg Castle in Hesse tell of its status in the past. The late medieval Adolf’s Tower and the Baroque St George Fountain are outstanding ambassadors in a multi-layered historical monument.
The Castle Complex
With its 3.9 hectares, Friedberg Castle is one of the larger castle complexes in Germany. But it is not only the extent of its grounds, which have retained the closed character of a medieval fortified complex, that makes it stand out. For many centuries, it also occupied an exceptional legal position.
From the 12th century until 1806, the castle, which had been built before 1180 to protect the Wetterau, was the centre of a unique Burgraviate. From 1431 onwards, it was the only castle with a small territory subject to the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire alone; its cooperative constitution was another special feature.
In 1217, the “Imperial and Holy Imperial Castle of Friedberg” was mentioned in writing for the first time. It was probably founded during the lifetime of the Staufen Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa (c. 1122-1190). Noble Burgmannen lived in the castle, which was included in the Reichsmatrikel, the list of all imperial estates, in 1431.
In modern times, being part of the castle served above all for prestige: one belonged to a prominent institution of the imperial knighthood. From the 17th century onwards, the castle lost its importance and became the seat of noble lords. Today, in addition to some of the burghers’ houses, there are municipal facilities within the historic walls, including parts of the tax office and a grammar school.
The Adolf’s Tower
The castle’s former high status can be seen in the Adolf’s Tower and St George Fountain. The grandeur of the oldest surviving medieval structure, the crenelated Adolf’s Tower, for example demonstrates pride and strength. The defiant keep, built around 1347 with the ransom from a feud, bears a butter-churn crown.
The central spire and the four side turrets (Wichhäuschen) are additions from the end of the 19th century. Including the weather vane, it has a height of 58.22 metres. The tower stands at the north gate, where it guarded one of two main access routes, and has two accessible walkways.
St George Fountain
The Baroque fountain built by Johann Philipp Wörrishofer at the castle in 1738 served not only to supply water, but above all to represent the Burgraviate. The figure of St George is enthroned in the centre above a dragon – today a copy. The original, designed by Burkhard Zamels and executed by J. P. Mörß, is in the Wetterau Museum.
The castle’s patron saint bears a coat of arms with the double-headed eagle of the Old Empire, referring to his imperial status. Both the sculpture base and the sides of the fountain bowl are also emblazoned with the castle’s coat of arms and 13 sculpted noble coats of arms. They represent the corporate regiment of the time, with the Burgrave at the head and a council of twelve as the governing body.
Opening hours and guided tours
Information on opening hours and guided tours can be found on the Friedberg Castle website.