Jesters, minstrels, craftsmen – and, of course, the nobility. For three days, on every second weekend in July, medieval life returns to the world’s longest castle. The year is 1516 - and Wilhelm IV, Duke of Bavaria, is honouring Burghausen with his presence.
And he has is not alone. Emperor Maximilian is with him, who is being ceremonially received by the "government" of the Herzogstadt Burghausen Society. The 650-member society, led by the "Duke and Duchess", does not only organise the spectacle but also practically takes over the governance of the castle during the festival.
After welcoming the Emperor in the town square, the medieval procession gets underway. More than 1500 men and women, horses and carts head up to the world's longest castle for the celebration.
The garments are resplendent, yet authentically simple, hand-made by members of the society in medieval style. A colourful bunch of people is waiting in the festively decorated castle. A whole host of traders and victuallers, dressed up in their medieval finest, is waiting to offer the guests hand-blown glass from the Bohemian Forest, leather wares and jewellery.
Jugglers and musicians perform in every nook and cranny, while hunger can be sated with historical dishes, fresh pastries or traditional tarte flambée – a real medieval feast.
Burghausen is the largest town in the Altötting district of Upper Bavaria in Germany. It is situated on the Salzach river, near the border with Austria. Burghausen Castle rests along a ridgeline and is the longest castle in the world (1,043 m).
The oldest mention of Burghausen is documented in the year 1025 as Imperial real property. Emperor Conrad II would later appoint the Counts of Burghausen as the financial administrators of the locality. But, as latest excavations have shown, the area around the main court of Burghausen's castle has at least been inhabited since the Bronze Age. With Archaeologists finding artifacts of the pre-metal Celtic, Iron Age, and Roman era, it is hard to pinpoint a "founding" date. The town has developed over thousands of years, but it is not yet possible to say how long there has been a permanent settlement.
Burghausen's main source of income was the trade-in salt from Hallein, (modern-day Austria). The salt was brought ashore in Burghausen and transported further overland. The landing spot was at the Mautner castle, which now houses the city's education and cultural centre.
The main sight of Burghausen besides Burghausen Castle is the picturesque Old Town in southern Inn-Salzach style. The ancient Regierungsgebäude (former Government Building) was built in the 16th century with three decorative Renaissance turrets. The Townhall with its Neo-classical facade originates already from the 14th and 15th centuries. These buildings are all situated at Burghausen's grand central square Stadtplatz, the same as the baroque Guardian Angel Church. Above the Old Town sprawls the gothic Burghausen Castle. The Wöhrsee lake is located between the Old Town and the castle. The city's education and cultural centre hosts adult education classes in photography and jazz as well as crafts and jazz events.
Learn more about the The great historic castle festival in Burghausen