Kapellendorf and its castle

Kapellendorf is known for his moated castle. It was owned by the Count of Kirchberg. Count Dietrich III von Kirchberg founded in 1235 a monastry in Kapellendorf. The monastry was closed at the time of the reformation in 1527.

It is possible that shortly before the founding of Kapellendorf a church was already erected around the 9th Century. With the founding of the monastry the excisting church was incorporated into the monastry.

A rar epitaph from 1410 is one of the treasures of the church. It shows Count Albrecht III of Kirchbeg and his wife Margareta of Kranichfeld.

Below left we see the count praying on top of a lion and on the right his praying wife on top of a dog. In the middle is Christ and to the right and left we see the coat of arms of both families, a lion and a crane.

The village of Kapellendorf, which is dominated by the largest and best preserved moated castle in Thuringia. It is located in the middle between  the cities of Weimar, Jena and Apolda. The oldest part of the castle, an almost circular complex, is the former keep. It was built at the beginning of the 12th century by the castellans of Kirchberg, who, although they came from Kapellendorf, named themselves after their official seat on a hill near Jena, the so-called Kirchberg.

The once influential Kirchberg family lost their titles and castles in 1304 and in 1348 had to sell the castle in Kapellendorf and its properties to the rich city of Erfurt. In the following period Erfurt improved the old castle's fortifications by converting it into a moated castle, to protect the city's trade routes towards the east. At this time the ring wall with five towers and the five-storey residential tower, containing the women's apartments, were built. The improvements made the fortifications so much stronger and gave the castle the well known look. When the castle was forfeited to the Elector of Saxony in 1508 it was intended as a temporary arrangement,. instead Erfurt lost the castle to the Elector of Saxony.

From this time Kapellendorf belonged to the Duchy of Sachsen-Weimar, which in 1684 established a legal and revenue office in the castle.
During the nearby battle of Jena and Auerstedt in 1806 the prussian Corps  under General Hohenlohe used the castle as a headquarter. 

It was here that the last part of the battle of Jena was fought. General Ruechel and the Prussian reserves tried to stem the tide of the advancing French army under Napoleon. Coming from Weimar Rüchel arrived here around 13.00 hours. After posting some reserves including artillery on the heights above Kapellendorf, he advanced with his troops through Kapellendorf and begun his attack against the French up the steep slopes of the Sperlingsberg and continued the advance past the Sperlingsberg close to  Gross-Romstedt. The troops advanced wih colors flying and drums beating. They advanced like on he parade ground. The French were pushed back at the beginning. Gross-Romstedt was almost reached but the enemy could bring more and more troops in the battle.

Now badly outnumbered the attack was stopped. Rüchel was badly wounded and he attack failed. The Prussian artillery on the other side of the Werlitztal stopped the following French troops fo a short time. The battle lost the old Prussian system of the great Frederick destroyed, but making room for a new Prussia and eventually a new strong Germany.

Much was written about Ruechel and his so-called mistake, why he was so slow arriving from Weimar and his attack against the French. But was he late? Most historians arrive at that because they think that armies of that time would march a speeds of 4 to 5 km per hour, but the fact is the normally speeds were around 3 km per hour. Ruechels march on the side of the road  from Weimar to here. 

In 1922, the castle passed into private hands; however, in 1933 the city of Erfurt became the owner of the castle again. In 1945 the castle was robbed of the greater part of its collections by the occupying allied troops. The robbed artifacts, even to this day, are still missing.

In the 1950s a museum was installed in the castle, showing a general survey of the development of castles in Thuringia and special information on the history of this moated castle.

A visit of the Castle is a must. From the tower the visitor has a good view of the battle-field and the surrounding area.

Wasserburg Kapellendorf
Am Burgplatz 1
99510 Kapellendorf

Tel.: 036425 22485
Fax: 036425 22485


Opening hours
Castle - Museum
Tuesday - Sunday
10.00 - 12.00 o'clock
13.00 - 17.00 o'clock

Castle area
Monday - Sunday
10.00 - 18.00 o'clock