The diverse five + 1
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Burg Querfurt
Castle Querfurt (Nürnberg Luftbild, Hajo Dietz)

Castle Querfurt


  • huge castle complex with three keeps and Romanesque castle church
  • first mention at the end of the 9th century: known as “Curnfurdeburg”
  • residence of St Bruno of Querfurt
  • imperial castle, seat of the free noble family von Querfurt up to 1496
  • during the 17th century, fortress and Baroque princely residence of the Electors of Saxony-Weißenfels
  • provided the name for the imperial principality Saxony-Querfurt (1663 – 1815)
  • museum since 1911
  • recently used as a location for a number of films, therefore popular with tourists: castle and regional museum with the permanent exhibition “Life in War and Peace”

Special exhibition

The saint and the Protestant. Duke Christian of Saxony-Weißenfels in Querfurt
21 May to 10 September 2017

The saint and the protestant

Querfurt as a religious site

Querfurt was once the centre of the entire region – as an imperial palace, home of an aristocratic family and county town. The roots of local customs reach back around a thousand years.

The saint: Bruno of Querfurt (ca. 974 / 75 – 1009)

Bruno was born in Castle Querfurt around the year 975. Following theological studies in Magdeburg, he became imperial chaplain under Otto III and was consecrated as a missionary bishop a year later. Bruno travelled on missions to territories within the modern countries Hungary, Rumania, Poland, the Ukraine and Lithuania. The first traces of Roman-Catholic Christianity in these regions are directly connected with his person. In 1009, Bruno was killed by the Prussians in the north of Poland.

Unforgotten for centuries

Many sites in Querfurt had and still have connections with Bruno: for example the “hoof prints” of his donkey on the gravel path leading to the castle gateway were long a great attraction. Many streets and buildings were named after him (Brunskapellen, Br(a)unsmühle, Br(a)unsgasse and Br(a)unsberg: all these no longer exist, but others still remain in existence today:

  1. Castle church, cauldron and iron shoes Bruno is said to have founded a church on the castle hill in Querfurt. The still existing castle church [Burgkirche] was constructed in the 12th century. Here the endowed clergy worked alongside the canons and in collaboration with the ruling family to focus traditional thought towards the ancestors of Bruno. This is displayed by valuable works of art in the church, for example a gold plaque depicting scenes from Bruno’s life which was unfortunately lost during the Reformation period. Other “items of evidence” dating from after 1561 have however been found in the church – a cauldron and a pair of iron shoes. Do these objects really have a direct connection to Bruno and were they always there? Come and discover the fascinating story of these objects during your tour through the church. A special room is also devoted to the topic “Bruno of Querfurt and Europe” in the permanent exhibition in the museum.
  2. The Br(a)unsbrunnen and the eightfold baptism. The Br(a)unsbrunnen is situated in Thaldorf at the foot of the castle. Bruno baptised the eight rescued children of his brother in this fountain. The Querfurt legend of the “multiple births” has survived up to the present day. You are welcome to visit this mostly peaceful location – perhaps someone will come past and tell you stories of the old days?!
  3. The chapel Esenstedt and the stubborn donkey When Bruno set off for Prussia in 1008 on his donkey, the animal is said to have suddenly stopped and refused to move any further in the middle of a meadow. Was this a special sign or was it the work of the Devil? Bruno postponed his journey, but could not escape his martyrdom. His relatives founded a chapel on the spot where the donkey refused to move: the building was later used as a prison and an inn and is today a private house.

Holy souvenirs

If you are looking for a perfect memory of your visit, what could be more appropriate than a donkey bearing a rider? Only the potters in Querfurt were permitted to produce these articles. The traditional equestrian figures were purchased as pious souvenirs, toys and collectors’ items. Now they are more objects to be viewed in museums, but can still be purchased at the castle!

Veneration despite the Reformation

Bruno was a popular local saint and was venerated as a Catholic saint in medieval times. This practice was discontinued during the Reformation – but has persevered in Querfurt up to the present day. A number of Protestant clergy have not been too happy about the practice, but in principle all can live with it.

The Protestant: Duke Christian of Sachsen-Weißenfels

Since 1712, Duke Christian (1682 – 1736) had ruled over the small Querfurt district which had in the meantime been elevated to the rank of an imperial principality. He was a member of one of the most significant Protestant royal dynasties: the house of Wettin. In 1697 however, Elector August the Strong converted to Catholicism! Christian was therefore ultimately the only legitimate preserver of Protestant Saxony as the appointed director of all Protestant imperial states.

The Protestant castle church - tradition, belief and governance

In May 1712, Christian inspected the Querfurt castle church during its ongoing reconstruction work and gave his approval for the completion of the alterations. Querfurt was his second large-scale project alongside the Trinity church in Sangerhausen. As a prelude to the anniversary year 1717, the duke ordered the festive consecration of the new castle church to be held on Reformation Day 1716. This clear signal directed at Dresden was simultaneously an acknowledgement of his sovereign ancestors in the district of Querfurt. The prince had inscriptions manufactured bearing an invitation to pray and underlined his efforts as a benefactor. What is remarkable is that Christian left the objects related to St Bruno in the church untouched.

St Bruno of Querfurt riding on a donkey (Burg Querfurt, eine Illustration von Rossen Andreev)
The iron shoe said to date from the time of St Bruno (Burg Querfurt)
The Querfurt donkey in the meadow (Burg Querfurt)
An inscription cartouche donated by Duke Christian of Saxony-Weißenfels in the castle church (Burg Querfurt)
Castle Querfurt with the castle church, the martyr tower, left, and the tower “Dicke Heinrich”, right (Burg Querfurt)

A glance back into pre-historic times

Not far from Castle Querfurt, a burial ground dating from the late 3rd millennium BC was discovered in 1991. The graves contained burial objects for the dead for their travels into the underworld.

This type of burial is exhibited in the museum. The exhibition includes additional burial objects from later periods, among them a vessel decorated with a cross pattern dating from the 4th to 6th century AD. Is this mere decoration, or could it be early evidence of Christian influences?

A crouched burial during the period of archaeological excavation (Burg Querfurt)
Crouched burial in the permanent exhibition in the museum (Burg Querfurt)

The diverse five + 1

Castle and fortress
Neuenburg Merseburg Querfurt Weißenfels Moritzburg