The most people who are traveling to Germany usually looking for well-known attractions like Neuschwanstein Castle, Oktoberfest, the Berlin Wall or the tavern Hofbräuhaus in Munich. The reason for that is that those points of interest are established attractions and they bring a bunch of money. In other words, they are beloved cash cows. For that reason, when you google for things to do in Germany, you usually would see them first in Google’s search results. But if you would like to visit not only the established points of interest, you will be very surprised how much other attractions you would find in Germany. You just need to know where they are. Thus, in this article I will show you one of those things to do in Germany you usually won’t find on the internet unless you know about it. I am speaking about a impressive memorial called Barbarossa Monument. So read on, folks.
What is the Barbarossa Monument and to whom is it dedicated?
This monument is the third largest monument in Germany, and it was erected between the years 1890 and 1896. Its actual name is “Kyffhäuser Monument” [kiffhoiser monument]. According to the name, it seems to be erected for the Holy Roman Emperor Kaiser Barbarossa (Official name: Frederick I). But actually, this memorial is dedicated to German Kaiser, called William I.
The monument consists of two parts, and that’s why it is sometimes called Barbarossa Monument. For underneath of the actual statue of William I, there is a big figure of the Kaiser Barbarossa carved in stone. But why they decided to put a figure of Barbarossa underneath the statue of Wilhelm I? Because there is a so-called Barbarossa legend which was very popular in the past centuries.
Above the statue of Kaiser Barbarossa, there is the actual monument dedicated to Wilhelm I. It consists of a tower which is about 57 m high (appr. 190 ft), accessible from inside almost to its top and a huge statue of a horse carrying Wilhelm I. When you decide to enter the tower, you will find there a kind of a memorial lobby. To the left within the lobby, you would enter a small but interesting museum about the memorial. At the right side of the lobby, there is a spiral staircase with appr. 250 stairs which would lead you into the baldachin. From there you would have a great view over landscape of Thuringia. A picture often says more than a thousand words. That’s why you should take a look into my Germany gallery to check out some pics I made of this appealing place.
Russians saved the Kyffhäuser Monument after the World War II
An interesting fact on the edge noticed: after Wilhelm I died, almost every bigger town and city in Germany wanted its own memorial to pay hommage. Thus, about 300 memorials for Wilhelm I were built but only 43 survived. The other ones (as they usually were located in the town centres) were destroyed towards the end of the World War II.
The Kyffhäuser Monument survived the World War II as it was located beyond the populated places. But there were some overeager local German communists (after Germany was split into two states) who wanted to demolish this memorial. Luckily, there were some Russian military officers with some cultural understanding and understanding of art. Thus, they declined the demolition intents of the communists with the words: “You Germans need finally to learn how to live with your history and your monuments”!
How to get to Barbarossa Monument?
This monument is located in the Federal State of Thuringia (in German: Thüringen) which is pretty in the middle of Germany if you will. For this, check out the map below:
You will find the monument on a top of a mountain not far away from the village called Steinthaleben. The best way to get there is to take a flight to the city called Erfurt (airport code ERF) and then rent a car in Erfurt.
If you prefer another airport than Erfurt, you can rent a car elsewhere in Germany and drive to the memorial. It shouldn’t take very long time as we have real good highways in Germany (usually without any speed limits). Otherwise, you can take a train to Erfurt and at the train station you can rent a car. If you would like to go by train, please read my article about traveling by train in Germany.
Going by car: enter in your GPS-system the ZIP-Code 06567 and then the name of the village Steinthaleben. When you are approaching to Steinthaleben, you will soon see signs showing you the way to the memorial.
Taking the bus to the Barbarossa Memorial?
There is also going a bus from Erfurt but I don’t recommend using it. The reason for this is, that it would take about 2 hours to go and besides that, it’s a bus you need to acclamate 2 hours in advance. So if you ask me, it is too awkward and to take a rental car is much easier.
What will you find else at the Barbarossa Memorial?
Ruins of the medieval castle of Kyffhausen
The Barbarossa (Kyffhäuser) Monument is not the only attraction, but you will also find some ruins there of the medieval castle of Kyffhausen adjacent to the memorial.
The Kyffhausen castle consisted originally of three parts and was about 600 m (appr. 1970 ft or 656 yards) long. Due to the lack of written sources in Middle Ages, it is not clear when the construction of the castle started. The first written evidence of this place was in the year 1118 so it assumed that it was already constructed in the 11th century. The construction was finished during the regency of Kaiser Barbarossa. There are no documents witnessing his residence but is supposed that he was there.
Over time, the most of the buildings at the area of Kyffhausen Castle were disintegrated. Today, the lower part of the original castle is the one which is the best preserved. You can visit this place for free before you will head further to the Barbarossa Memorial.
In case you would also visit the castle ruins: When you arrive the parking lots, turn to the memorial. Then keep to the right, and you will be automatically led to the castle ruins. In my Germany gallery you will find some pics of the ruins, folks.
Hotel, restaurants and other amenities at the memorial area
Just behind the Barbarossa Memorial there is a neat cafe you can spend your time to rest after you visited the memorial. But at the parking lots you will also find a hotel and a restaurant so you can even stay over night at the memorial and do more things, e.g. hiking in the green nature of Thuringia.
Okay folks, that’s it. You have any questions about the Barbarossa Memorial, leave a comment.