This imposing castle, which shares its name with the adjacent town, was build between 1236 and 1260 from local red brick. At an altitude of 50m, it is the largest existing medieval hill castle in Northern Germany and the oldest secular building in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommen. Today, the castle grounds include a museum, a large herb and vegetable garden, a traditional tailor with a selection of historic costumes and a restaurant. The former prison is now used as a hotel. Unsurprisingly, the castle is a popular location for weddings, utilising the chapel and the rooms formerly used by the lords’ wives and daughters. The tower can be climbed and stands at 38m high, offering excellent views across the area.
The hill around the castle has seen settlements dating back to before 3000BC. Slavic tribes moved into the area during the large migration period and called the place Start Gard, which translates to ‘old castle’ after they found remnants of an old stronghold. The region was conquered in the 12th century of German Christians and became an important fortification for the Margraves of Brandenburg. It was succeeded to Mecklenburg in 1292 as part of a dowry. During the 30 Years War, General Tilly used the castle as head quarters for his siege of nearby Neubrandenburg, although it was heavily damaged. Further disaster followed in 1646, when lightning struck and the castle burned out completely.
Castle Stargard remained the seat of the local magistrate court of the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and in 1726 the last witch-hunt tribunal was concluded, likely the last one in northern Germany.
The castle burned down again in 1919, but survived World War 2 without damage. In modern times, it was used as an educational premise after the war and became a youth hostel. The current museum was established after reunification in 1990 by a Christian welfare organisation.
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