Castle Alt-Windeck

Castle Windeck, which is also called Alt-Windeck, is a ruin in the Black Forest region of Baden Württemberg in the south of Germany. It was build around 1200 at an elevation of 378m by the counts of Windeck, a noble family likely originating from Franconia in Bavaria, holding numerous lands in that region. 

Castle Alt-Windeck
Castle Alt-Windeck – Von Christian Barth – Eigenes Werk, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21337115

Whilst the counts of Windeck are mentioned in the records of the closely city of Strasbourg and its minster, the castle itself is not noted until 1335. From very early on, the castle became separated through inheritance with several lines of the Windeck family living within its walls. In the early 13th century, one of these lines build Castle Neu-Windeck which is easily visible from the older stronghold. 

The counts of Windeck lived life of conflict. Throughout the 13th and 14th century, the city of Strasbourg was a constant rival, as were the lords of Württemberg. Castle Alt-Windeck was besieged several times during these rivalries, but never conquered and remained largely undamaged. However, towards the end of the 14th century, a large fire destroyed living quarters, stables and the large archives, which had been basis of a great many legal disputes previously. Whilst Reinhard von Windeck rebuild the castle, shortly afterwards it was passed by marriage to Berthold IV of New-Windeck, as he married the last daughter of the Alt-Windeck line, Anna. Whilst his ancestors used the stronghold well into the 16th century, locals started to use it as a quarry from 1561 to erect a variety of buildings, including the Kappelwindecker Church, close by. Eventually, the counts of Windeck moved into a palace in Bühl (which is a hotel today). This was not destined to last long though, with the last male member of the family, Jakob of Windeck, to die of illness after travelling through Europe. The holdings passed to the empire and were divided between Jakob’s sisters Ursula and Elisabeth, who each inherited Alt-Windeck and Neu-Windeck respectively. 

As many other castles of the time, Alt-Windeck fell into ruin and today only foundations, part of the walls and the two towers are left, which can be visited at good weather and offer excellent views over the region. 

There is a famous legend surrounding Castle Alt-Windeck and magical chickens, which can be read here.

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