It’s kinda hard to make your way around parts of Baden-Württemberg without hearing the name Hohenzollern over and over. Some of you might know the name as the ruling family of Prussia, but the Catholic side of the family ruled over what became known as the Hohenzollern Province, or the Hohenzollernsche Lande in German, just to the southeast of Freudenstadt.
The geo-political boundaries of the Hohenzollern Province might’ve changed a number of times over the centuries, but it all started in 1575 when a Prussian father split his region between three brothers. It became known as Hohenzollern-Haigerloch, Hohenzollern-Hechingen, and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen.
However, the Hohenzollern-Haigerloch branch of the Catholic dynasty didn’t last too long — dying out in 1634. The lands were then taken over by the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen branch.
In 1850 the two remaining Hohenzollern regions were combined together giving it the new name of Hohenzollern Province; for which it remained until the French took over the occupied zone in 1946, where it then became part of the newly created Württemberg-Hohenzollern (and making Tübingen its capital).
Because of the effects of World War II, let’s get the numbers of the Hohenzollern Province as it was in 1939 — prior to the outbreak of the war. With just over 74,000 residents, the 256 square kilometers weren’t particularly crowded. Yet, the towns within the Hohenzollern Province were quite jam packed with history (it was once part of the Holy Roman Empire) and culture.
This was the stomping grounds of future kings & queens — so you know that means you’ll find some wonderful castles along the way.
One Hohenzollern princess was none other than Bavarian King Maximilian I’s granddaughter (Eugenie de Beauharnais) — making her related to King Ludwig II (King Max was Ludwig’s dad, BTW).
If you want to follow around the Hohenzollern Province, there’s no better place to do that than on the Hohenzollern Route. You may want to start in Sigmaringen, capital of the Hohenzollern Province and birthplace of a Romanian King (who just so happened to also be a Hohenzollern).
Sigmaringen doesn’t just lie within what was the Hohenzollern Province and on the Hohenzollern Route, it also meets the Upper Swabian Baroque Route.
The Swedes lived in the Schloss Sigmaringen during the Thirty Years’ War, but now everyone is able to come see the castle’s huge weapons collection.
But don’t leave yet. You’ve still got the Prussian State Archives, the Heritage Museum (found in a part of the Stadtmauer), and the 14th century Monastery Gorheim to see.
Bordering Sigmaringen is Trochtelfingen. Not only is there a local history museum, but also a Beer Mug Museum at the Brewery. The frescoes found at the St. Erhard Chapel are fantastic, as is the art found at Schloss Trochtelfingen’s St. Mary Chapel (built 1660) and the St. Martin Church (built 1200).
A good time is had during Trochtelfingen’s Augstbergfest (1st weekend of September), the Martinimarkt (2nd Monday in November), and the bi-annual City Festival.
One of the Hohenzollern brothers lorded over the Hohenzollern-Hechingen, so let’s go there. Wanna know who else lived in Hechingen? Elsa Einstein (Albert’s wife), spy extraordinaire Markus Wolf, and Baron von Stuben — a General in the Continental Army of the American Revolution.
They lived here overlooking Hechingen’s landmark, the ultra famous Hohenzollern Castle. The city even has a Hohenzollern Landesmuseum, as well as an Oldtimermuseum, and the Kloster-Kirche St. Luzen is surely worth a visit.
Hopefully you’re here for the the annual Starkbierfest or Bock Festival (in March), or the Walpurgis Nacht/Maibaumfest (April 30/May 1). Talk about history & culture all in one-stop shopping. ;-)
Because Hohenzollern-Haigerloch didn’t last too long, I’m gonna save that for last. So, we’ll head to Burladingen in the mean time.
Burladingen has castle ruins (Lichtenstein Castle), a nature reserve area, a Heritage Museum, and it wouldn’t be good to leave out mentioning either the St. Anne Chapel or St. Michael Church.
A quick stop to Dettingen (nowadays part of Horb) before going to Haigerloch, OK? This town’s got quite a number of fairytale framework houses and a pretty collegiate church — yet I think you’ll like its Christmas Market and Willow Festival just as much.
All right, we’ve come to Haigerloch. There’s a castle here with a church and a Roman Tower; but do yourself a favor and go see the St. Nicholas Church, a Jewish cemetery & former synagogue, and a World War II uranium research facility known as the Atomkeller.
Whether the area of the Hohenzollern Province was ruled over by the Protestant or Catholic branch, this noble family sure got the prettiest, most loveliest part of Germany. Other than the Bavarian Alps, that is. ;-)