Since the end of the 12th century the course of the local history has been determined by the political considerations of the Counts of Hohenberg, a powerful family closely related to the Hohenzollern Counts. Their primary residence was a castle high above the valley of the Neckar river, not far from Rottenburg. In the 2nd half of the 13th century Count Albert II of Hohenberg, whose sister Anna-Gertrud celebrated a glorious wedding with the future german king, Rudolf of Habsburg, resided there. The count enjoyed the confidence of his royal brother in law througout his life. He was repeatedly sent on diplomatic missions of great importance to the security of the kingdom. He also had a good name in the courts of his contemporaries as a poet singing his works himself. The ruins on the peaks overlooking the Neckar valley could tell much of middle high German poetry that he and other noblemen of the day lovingly furthered.
The sale of the countship of Hohenberg from Count Rudolf III of Hohenberg to Duke Leopold of Austria, on the 26th of October 1381, brought an important historicel turn. With this purchase, the Habsburg house aquired a region of great meaning its further politics. The knightly families of the valley gladly ensured themselves of the Kaiser’s protection, transferring all or part of their possessions to Austria as feudal properties. Many titled sons joined the services for the Habsburg, not only for their homeland but also to act as organizational authorities and field marshals in the interest of the empire.
The countship of Hohenberg was presented to Mechthild –born Countess of the Rheinland – on the occasion of her marriage in 1451 to Archduke Albrecht of Austria. The countess brought the last glow of courtly life to the upper Neckar region. The final accord of Knightly lyric poetry was sounding in the court of this spirited woman just as the morning glow of rising German humanism was warming the land.
The Weitenburg lies in a uniquely beautiful site high above the peaceful valley of the upper Neckar. Some of the 15th> century documents of the counts of Lupfen describe it as “the fortified”. Until the beginning of the 16thcentury the owners of the castle were, with one known exception, the knights of Weitingen. These knights also owned the Urnburg castle near Weitingen, thus explaining the description of the Weitenburg as “the lower castle with the tower on the Neckar”.
That the knights of Weitingen were the builders of the castle is implied by the description as “the fortified”. This suggests thick walls and battlements and the fortified nature of the castle seems to be confirmed by the nature of the foundations. Further down the hill stood a watch tower which gave an unobstructed view of the river valley.
In the years from 1583 to 1585 the castle was modified by Jakob of Ehingen. He added a second floor to the palace and built an additional west wing. On the site of the current residence hall he built a stable. The next structural changes were undertaken by Quirin of Hoehnstett and his like-named son. They had two parallel early baroque buildings constructed at right angles to the “Ehinger builduing”. They also had the entry gate moved from the east side – the current site of the chapel – to the castle court and added a sturdy oaken stairway to the upper floors. These efforts were unfortunately delayed when the officials in Rottenburg forbade the workers to continue. Quirin, apparently wishing to improve his image among titled Swabians, also added an artful early baroque door with his initials to the castle’s east wing and had a design painted on the “Ehinger building”.
The influence of romanticism “inspired” Friedrich Gravenitz to tear down the baroque east wing and replace it with a neo gothic building a tudor style tower with leaded gothic windows. These changes did nothing to enchance the castle. Just as the castles Lichtenstein, Hohenzollern and Mühringen, the spirit of the age found another victim.
The father of the present owner, Baron Max-Richard von Rassler, recognized the demands of time and converted the old castle kitchen into a restaurant in 1954, carefully preserving the old structures, including the chimney. Old dishes and a cookbook are to be seen in a glass showcase and the walls are decorated with paintings of historic personages including Kaiser Leopold and his wife, and Prince Eugen the Noble knight. The guest rooms of the hotel, some of them with old artful stuccoed ceilings, still correspond to the plans from the time of Quirin of Hoehnstett. On both the first and second floors the corridors – hung with paintings and antlers – end in halls decorated with tasteful stuccoed ceilings.
By adding the hotel and restaurant the owners have made a bit of the tradition of the upper Neckar available to the modern citizens of our technical age.
|Kaiser (Emporer) Leopold I
1640 – 1705
Gave the title „Baron“ to the family Rassler
in 1681 and franchised his imperial „L“ to chancelor Christoph Rassler into the armorial of the family.
|Joseph Rupert Freiherr (Baron) von Raßler
1692 – 1770
Bought the castle Weitenburg in 1720 and paid 43.000 rhenish guilder.
|Maria Anna Freifrau (Baroness) von Raßler
1700 – 1768
Wife of the purchaser of the Weitenburg.
Widow of Anton Baron Hohenberg, last male descendant of Archduke Ferdinand II. of Austria..
|Maximilian Freiherr (Baron) von Raßler
1856 – 1922
Chamberlain and constable of Queen Charlotte, last Queen of Württemberg.
The manufactory you can find at Schloss Weitenburg in splendid location high above the Neckar river valley in the small town of Starzach.
You would like to know more about the noble metal copper? We suggest a visit at the castle or a look at the website http://www.kupfermanufaktur.com/