There has been some sort of castle or palace on this spot since the year 999, at least. In its current form as a palace, it was first built in the eighteenth century for the ruling Count Wilhelm Heinrich of Nassau-Saarbrücken, but has been added to since then and was of course badly damaged in the Second World War.
In the 1980s the palace was thoroughly modernized and renovated. It is now used mainly for the city administration, but there is also space for events of various sorts, for instance they hold a wild Halloween party there every year on October 31.
The square in front of the palace is also known as the “invisible memorial square” against intolerance and racism, because in 1993 students from the local Art Academy dug up 2,146 paving stones on the way to the Palace, engraved the names of Jewish cemeteries on them and then replaced the stones with the engraved side facing downwards.
The entrance to the History Museum is right next to the palace on Schlossplatz. It looks somewhat like a Quonset hut, and doesn’t seem to be very large from the outside, but it is actually quite huge since most of it is under ground, incorporating the remains of a medieval tower and ramparts which have been excavated over the past century.
As in the French city of Metz, 60 km to the west, the History Museum Saar was built essentially on top of the historical remains, to protect and preserve them.
In addition to the archeological remains, the museum includes detailed exhibits on the history of this region over the past thousand years, but paying special attention to the past one-and-a-half centuries: the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, the German Empire, the First and Second World Wars, the Nazi dictatorship and the development of the Saarland since the end of the Second World War.
As the museum’s website points out: “Three wars and two referendums caused several border shifts, which meant that people born in the Saarland around 1900 had five different passports in the course of their lives.”
When I was there, the museum also had a very thoughtful and balanced special exhibit on the referendum of 1955, when the people of the Saarland again voted to re-join Germany.
To get the most out of this museum you would have to understand German, since there are very few texts in any other language — not even in French, even though the border is just a few kilometers away.
The old Palace Church was restored at the beginning of the 21st century and turned into a museum of sacred art, which opened in May 2004. Classical music concerts and other cultural events are also held here.
My photos in this post are from 2004 and 2006. I revised the text in 2023.
See more posts on the city of Saarbrücken, Germany.