Ruin Gleichen at Wandersleben (District Gotha)
original fortress dates back to the second half of the 11th century.
The Renaissance structures were built between the 13th and
16th centuries. It has
been a ruin since 1842.
"Drei Gleichen" ("Three Equals") arise, each on
their own hill, from the land bordering the Thuringian Forest, and
are visible from afar. Although
their collective name implies that they belong together, each
fortress has its own origin and special history.
northern-most of the three castles, and the one after which the
group is named, is Castle Gleichen, which includes Muehlburg and
Wachsenburg. It is
first documented in the year 1089, and during the time 1124-1137, it
transferred ownership to the Archbishop of Mainz, who also
controlled the most important trade route to Erfurt.
Soon after, the Archbishops of Mainz transferred the castle
to the Earls of Tonna, who became governors of Erfurt at the same
time and designated themselves as the Earls of Gleichen in 1162.
At the end of the 16th century, Earl Philipp Ernst of
Gleichen planned to oversee the remodeling and reconstruction of the
fortress as a Renaissance castle.
After the construction of the manor house, whose outer walls
are still visible today, he abandoned his plans in favor of Ohrduft,
to whose castle he transferred his royal residence.
One reason for this may have been the lack of a well, thereby
necessitating the mule transport of drinking water to the castle.
The castle remained the administrative seat of the Earls of
Gleichen until the end of their reign in 1631. After 1639, the
castle was overseen by the brothers of Hatzfeld, who were also
awarded the title of Earls of Gleichen, but the castle began to fall
into disrepair. By the
beginning of the 18th century, the majority of the castle was
already a ruin, save for the Renaissance building which remained
inhabited until 1841. In
1803, the castle along with the entire region of Erfurt, became part
of Prussia. It was
partitioned off for sale in 1811 by the French authorities, but by
decree of Napoleon was given to the University of Erfurt.
After the university was dissolved in 1816, ownership of the
castle was returned to the city.
It continued to deteriorate during the 19th century until the
Thueringer-Wald-Verein began restoration work in 1897.
of the enclosure walls of the medieval structure are preserved, and
the ruins of the Renaissance buildings, including the cistern and
the massive 22 meter long vaults from the 13th century are open to
the public. A
gate-house still stands at the north side, and a small museum is
located at the south side.
Castle Gleichen became known beyond the borders of Thuringia because
of the legend of the double marriage of the Earl of Gleichen, as
evidenced by the tombstone inscription in the Cathedral of Erfurt of
the Earl and two woman. According
to the legend, the Earl was taken prisoner in the crusades of 1227,
but was saved from execution by the sultan's daughter.
She returned with him to his home, and by special decree of
the Pope, the Earl was allowed to take her as his second wife.
castle ruin of Gleichen was turned over to the Stiftung
Thueringer Schloesser und Gaerten on January 1, 1998 and is
currently undergoing cleaning and restoration."
german text from: http://www.thueringen.de/schloesser/l13.htm).
Under this adress you can find more informations (in German).