The fortress Königstein is a unique witness to European fortress architecture. Its 40 metres tall walls rise on a mountain in the midst of the picturesque rock landscape of the Saxon Switzerland. A more than 750 years lasting history makes this fortress complex into an impressive ensemble of buildings of the late Gothic, the Renaissance, the Baroque and the 19th century.
In 1241, Königstein was first mentioned in a document. At that time, there was just a medieval castle on the rock plateau which belonged to the Bohemian kingdom.
At the beginning of the 15th century, the dynasty Wettin (Saxon dynasty) took possession of the plateau. Cölestin monks created the "monastery of the praise of the miracles of Mariae" in 1516 which existed until 1524. From 1563 till 1569, the deepest Saxon well (152,5 metres) was built in Königstein.
In 1589 the Saxon Elector Christian I. finally gave orders to change the existing castle into a national fortress. The defence systems were again and again brought up to date so that no enemy ever dared to attack the fortress. In 1725 the largest Königstein wine cask (238,000 litres) was finished. It lay in the “Magdalenen castle” cellar until 1818.
Since 1591, the fortress had been the most feared Saxon state prison and camp for prisoners of war during the French-German War (1870 till 1871) and the two World Wars. On May 29th 1955, the fortress Königstein was opened to the public (as a museum) for the first time. The 9.5 hectares large fortress complex offers an incredible view on the landscape of Elbe Sandstone Mountains and Osterzgebirge. A tour takes at least two hours.
There are more than 30 buildings. Among other things there is a well house, the oldest Saxon garrison church, the gate house and old barracks. Inside different buildings, exhibitions and documentation tell about the fortress’ history.