The history of Freudenstein Castle

1175/ 1177 The first castle

Around 1168, the first silver deposit was found in the region which should later become Freiberg. After this finding the population as well as the importance of this area grew steadily. In order to protect the mines and the population Margrave Otto of Wettin (the Rich) decided to build a representative residential and administrative centre for the Wettin Lords and so the first castle was built between 1175 and 1177.

1505- 1539 Residence of Duke Henry the Pious

In 1505 Duke Henry the Pious became sovereign of the Freiberg region and proclaimed Freiberg's castle (which is firstly mentioned as Castle Freudenstein in the records in 1525) as his main residence. During his reign, Henry the Pious made Lutheranism the state religion of the Duchy of Saxony and declared Freiberg's dome to his burial place.

1566- 1577 The Renaissance castle

The declaration of Freiberg's dome as burial place for the Saxon electors represents an essential milestone in Freiberg's history as the importance of Freiberg and the Castle Freudenstein was significantly increased by this declaration. Hence, elector Augustus decided to rebuild to castle completely as a Renaissance castle in order to represent its new status.

17th/ 18th century Dilapidation of the castle

The Freudenstein Castle in the year 1772.

In 1697 the dome of Freiberg lost his importance as burial place for the Saxon electors as Frederick Augustus I (Augustus the Strong) converted to the Catholic Church. As a result also the Castle Freudenstein lost its importance for the Saxon rulers. Less money was spent on maintenance of the building and so the castle started to fall into ruin. The last prominent visitor was Czar Peter I of Russia who visited the castle in 1711 and described it as dilapidated. When the last battle of the Seven Years' War was fought near Freiberg, the castle was firstly used as prison.

1784- 1805 Granary

In 1784, the castle ruin was taken over by military forces and was comprehensively reconstructed. During these reconstruction works the interior was destroyed completely. In order meet the requirements as a corn storage unit, additional storeys were embed into the castle which are still partly visible today.

19th/ 20th century Changing occupancy

In 1813, the castle was used as a military hospital by the French groups during World War I. In the nineteen-twenties and thirties the castle was used as storage unit of a supermarket chain. Additionally, the castle harboured a coffee-roasting plant. Between 1939 and 1945 the castle was used by the German Armed Forces and the SS as quarters and detention centre for prisoners of war. Between 1957 and 1978 the castle was used as a granary again.

1978 - 1990 Site of social encounter

The district and town administration decided to give the castle a new function as a "Site of social encounter". One part of this plan comprised also the reconstruction of the castle to its former Renaissance appearance. However, the political break-down of the GDR put an end to this project. The restaurant which was opened in 1986 closed its gates in 1991 as the end of the project became official. After that, the castle was not inhabited or used for more than one decade.

2003 terra mineralia and the Archives of Mining

The herald of Freiberg in front of the new restored Freudenstein Castle (Foto: Detlev Müller)

In 2003 the city council of Freiberg decided together with the Saxon state government that the TU Bergakademie Freiberg may use the castle together with the Saxon Archives of Mining. Based on this decision, the reconstruction of the castle began in the following year and was completed in October 2008 with the opening of terra mineralia.