The Castle in Friedberg was begun in the years 1171 to 1180, presumably at the behest of the emperor Friedrich Barbarossa.
Over the centuries, it developed into an unusually large castle complex (the largest in Germany, they claim), so large that it now includes a high school, a tax office, a church and various other public and private buildings.
At the north end of Friedberg Castle is a tower known as the Adolfsturm or Adolf’s Tower. The tower is 54 meters tall and is said to be the highest “historic” tower in Germany.
The story of this is that in 1347 Count Adolf of Nassau was captured (not “captivated” as it says on several websites!) in one of the constant feuds that went on throughout the Middle Ages. He was held prisoner by the knights of Friedberg Castle, who demanded and finally received a large ransom for his release. The knights used the ransom money to build this tower and named it after their former prisoner: Adolf’s Tower.
Originally the tower must have been somewhat simpler than it is today. The pointed top and the four little corner towers are the result of a reconstruction in the year 1893.
The name Adolf was traditionally a common first name in German-speaking countries. According to the website Beliebte Vornamen (Popular First Names), Adolf was the thirteenth most popular name given to boys born in 1890, but the popularity of this name declined steadily in the first decades of the twentieth century. “In 1933, for obvious reasons, there was a significant increase in the frequency of Adolf as a boy’s name. This upswing ended in 1942. Since then, significantly fewer newborns have been named Adolf. From 1951, this first name is almost completely absent from name statistics.”
1933 was of course the year when Adolf Hitler came to power as Chancellor of Germany. 1942 was the year when most Germans started to realize that the war begun by Hitler was going to end in a disaster for Germany. They weren’t allowed to say this in public, under penalty of death, but they suddenly stopped choosing “Adolf” as the name for their sons.
My photos in this post are from 2011. I revised the text in 2021.
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5 thoughts on “Friedberg Castle”
Feuds – but I don’t think the feuds in the Middle ages were much like the Hatfields and McCoys, were they.
No, the medieval feuds were more often between aristocratic families or individuals, trying to take each other’s land or castles.
Truly a remarkable edifice from that period Don.
Thanks for the history of the castle!
Not a complete surprise that the name Adolf suffered a dip in popularity! It’s a wonder they didn’t change the name of the tower…