Schloss Bürgeln - A Very German Stately Home
First mentioned as a fortified complex ("Burg") in 1125 and used as a chapel, Bürgeln was built by local land-owner Lord Werner von Kaltenbach, who subsequently donated all his possessions to the St. Blasien Benedictine monastery. Under monastic control, Bürgeln became the seat of the St. Blasien Provost, the religious representative and church tax collector for the local area, including the convent at Sitzenkirch and the nearby communities of Obereggenen and Marzell.
Schloss Bürgeln Gallery
During the peasant's revolt of 1525 the castle was looted. Then in 1556 Charles II Margrave of Baden-Durlach, in whose territory Bürgeln sat, introduced the Reformation, releasing the local communities from the control of the Catholic monastery and its Bürgeln Provost.
In 1689, during the War of the Spanish Succession, the property was severely damaged, and between 1692 and 1698 was left uninhabited. There were several attempts to restore it, but in 1762 the former structures were demolished down to the foundations, and over the next two years Bürgeln was rebuilt as a 'Schloss' - equivalent to an English stately home - designed to represent Catholic power in the midst of a Protestant stronghold.
At the beginning of the 19th century, with revolutionary France ascendant and the Austrian rulers of the Catholic Holy Roman Empire defeated, imperial possessions were 'secularised', i.e. transferred over to the control of non-imperial authorities. Initial attempts in 1803 to transfer St. Blasien to the Catholic Order of Malta based in Heitersheim were resisted, but following further Austrian defeats at Ulm and Austerlitz in 1805, large swathes of Austrian Breisgau (the south west corner of modern day Germany) were transferred over to the Electorate (formerly Margraviate, and soon to be Grand-Duchy) of Baden.
In 1809 Bürgeln was sold into private ownership. By 1926 Bürgeln had come into the possession of Richard Sichler who renovated the property, adding the terrace on the west side. After his death in 1952, his widow stayed on at the house until 1957, when it was sold to the current owners, the Schloss Bürgeln Association, though the sale did not include the contents, which were sold off separately.
Today the house, authentically refurnished, with a restaurant on site and set in small but beautifully laid out gardens in the heart of the southern Black Forest near the towns of Schliengen, Sitzenkirch, and Kandern, is open all year round. It is accessible by guided tour only which are also available in English, French, and Italian. For schedule and price information see the Schloss Bürgeln Association website at http://www.schlossbuergeln.de/ (in German - see the information under "Schlossführungen").