Visit the Teutonic Order Castle in the Tauber Valley, Germany
The Teutonic Order had its head offices in the Deutschordenschloss in Bad Mergentheim in the Tauber Valley in Germany from 1525 to 1809.
The main sight in Bad Mergentheim is the Deutschordenschloss (Teutonic Order Castle), which dominates the eastern part of the old town. The original 12th-century moated castle was extended in the 16th century to serve as head quarters of the Teutonic Order from 1525 until the forced abolition of the order in 1809.
The Rococo Schlosskirche (Castle Church) of the Teutonic Order was erected between 1730 and 1735 with some assistance by Balthasar Neumann, who designed the towers, and Francois Cuvilliés, who designed the stuccowork.
Visit the Deutschordenschloss (Teutonic Order Castle) in Bad Mergentheim
The Deutschordenschloss (Teutonic Order Castle) now houses the Deutschordensmuseum Bad Mergentheim (Teutonic Order Museum), Schloss 16, tel 07931-52-212. Most of the Deutschordensmuseum is dedicated to the history and practices of the Teutonic Order. The apartments of the grand master including his bedroom and the neo-Classical Kapitelsaal (Chapter House) are on the second floor. Note the magnificent Renaissance corkscrew-shaped spiral staircases in the two corner towers.
The Deutschordensmuseum also includes the local history museum, a display on poet Eduard Mörike, an eclectic antiques collection, and around 40 dollhouses. Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday from April to October from10:30 am to 5 pm and November to March from 2 to 5 pm, Sunday from 10:30 am to 5 pm. Admission is €3.80.
To the west of the castle is the lovely Schlosspark (Castle Park). The original Baroque park was altered to an English landscape garden in the late 18th century. It has numerous walkways as well as water features and stretches all the way to the Tauber River. A bridge across the river leads directly into the Kurpark.
See also Top Sights in Bad Mergentheim for more on tourist attractions and the spa facilities in Bad Mergentheim as well as the Stuppacher Madonna.
A Short History of the Deutschorden (Teutonic Order)
The Deutschorden (Teutonic Order) was established in Palestine during the Third Crusade in 1190. After the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1198, the order returned to Germany where it received numerous donations and estates, including part of Mergentheim.
However, knights of the Teutonic Order are more famous for conquering Prussia and parts of the present-day Polish and Russian Baltic coasts, which they repopulated with German peasants and ruled from their strongholds in Marienberg and Königsberg (East Prussia).
In 1525, Grand Master Albrecht von Brandenburg-Ansbach accepted the Lutheran Reformation and changed Prussia into a secular state (later to be unified with Brandenburg into the Kingdom of Prussia).
The Roman Catholic wing reestablished the religious order with head quarters in Mergentheim, from where they dominated the town and received tributes from as far away as present-day Lithuania. In 1809, en route to his ill-fated Russian campaign, Napoleon disbanded the order.
The Teutonic Order later reestablished itself in Vienna from where it still operates as a charitable foundation.
Next: Although the Deutschordenschloss is the most famous sight, Bad Mergentheim has several further sights worth exploring in addition to the wonderful spa facilities. Upstream, in Weikersheim visitors can enjoy one of the best Renaissance palaces in Germany.
Further Destinations & Information on the Tauber Valley in Germany
- Creglingen – Riemenschneider Altar & Thimble Museum
- Wertheim – Outlet mall shopping at the confluence of the Tauber and Main Rivers.
- Tauberbischofsheim & Lauda Königshofen – Half-Timbered Townscapes
- Cultural Events & Outdoor Adventures in the Tauber Valley
- Hotels & Restaurants – Where to Sleep and Eat in the Tauber Valley