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Konigstein Fortress

Konigstein Fortress

The Konigstein Fortress (Circa 12th Century) is a famous historic mountain top fortress near Dresden Germany, near the town of Konigstein. The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison is still intact, is one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

The first reference to a castle at Konigstein is from 1241. At that time the region was split between the Kingdom of Bohemia and the Bishopric of Meissen. To defend the boundary running between the two states, King Wenceslaus I established the castle which controlled the Elbe valley above Pirna.

A castle since the mid-13th century situated on a prominent isolated rock in the "Saxon Switzerland" region, it originally belonged to the Kings of Bohemia, passing in 1408 to the Dukes of Saxony. Between 1516 and 1524, it included a monastery (Celestines), but it always remained a stronghold and a fortress with its own garrison; the fortifications were always updated and enlarged to meet the latest requirements of arms technology.

Because Konigstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The Konigstein also became the state prison until 1922 for the most important prisoners, such as:

Caspar Peucer, Johann Friedrich Böttger, the inventor of European porcelain, the Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin the founder of German social democracy.

Konigstein was never taken, not even during World War II. However, on April 17, 1942, French General Henri Giraud successfully escaped German captivity from the castle.

Because of Böttger, the Konigstein Fortress is also a site of the invention of European porcelain. Bottger also built the "Great Konigstein Cask" in 1725, the greatest wine barrel in the world (and larger than the one in Heidelberg), with a capacity of 238,000 litres.

In World War I the castle was used as a prisoner of war camp (Oflag) for French and Russian officers. In World War II it again served as an Oflag for British, French, Polish and other Allied officers.

Castle Walls

Cannons on the Wall

Up close


View from the top

More Cannons

Main Gate

The Well

In 1735 miners dug a well from the fortress down 150 metres (600’) to supply Konigstein with an independent supply of fresh water.

Wine Cask

The Great Konigstein Cask built in 1725 is the largest wine barrel in the world (larger than the one in Heidelberg), with a capacity of 238,000 litres.

Silver Coins



Fortress Construction

The Fortress Walls were built right on top of the Granite Mountain

Fortress CornerStone