Castle Werdenfels – Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany - Atlas Obscura

AO Edited

Castle Werdenfels

The stones of this formerly witch-obsessed castle were used to build a church. 


Jutting ominously into the German sky, the preserved ruins of Castle Werdenfels are all that is left of a centuries-old holdfast that is steeped in legend and was partially torn down to build a new church. 

Built sometime around the 13th century, the castle is said to have been the site of a love triangle between Siglinda, the beautiful wife of the local lord, and his best friend. When the local lord went off to the Crusades, the nefarious best friend swooped in and tried to get Siglinda to give herself to him. She resisted, was thrown in the castle dungeon, and managed to hold out until the very day before her husband returned, tragically dying just hours before salvation.

Later, in the 16th century, during the infamous Garmisch-Partenkirchen witch trials, the castle became the holding place of the accused, as it was the local base of the Prince Bishops of Freising. More than 80 supposed witches were kept for months in the dungeon, released only for bouts of torture. There is speculation that some of the accused were even executed at the stake in the castle courtyard. After the trials, the castle was partially dismantled and the stones were used to construct a Christian church in direct contravention of the hated black arts. 

Today, the ruins of the Castle Werdenfels still stand and are open to visitors who would like to wander the arches and courtyards where men and women were once tortured and burned.

Know Before You Go

Accessible from the village of Burgrain by following the trail south-west off Werdenfelserstrasse.

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web