How to Visit Medieval Castle Lobdeburg in Jena, Germany

Lobdeburg Castle in Jena covered in snow with water color fringe frame

Jena offers many sights, including multiple castles inside and around town. But the most prominent might be Castle Lobdeburg in Lobeda district. And what many aren’t aware of, it’s part of a set of three castles on one hill! Here’s the background story and how to get there.

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How to Visit Medieval Castle Lobdeburg in Jena, Germany

Where is Lobdeburg Castle?

You can find the Castle Lobdeburg in Jena, a city in the heart of Thuringia, the most central federal state in Germany.

Jena is divided into various districts with Lobeda Ost (“Lobeda East”) being in its south. Just above the hospital, you can already see it overlooking the valley from its lofty hillside.

How to get to Lobdeburg Castle?

Jena has multiple train stations. But the closest to the castle is the stop Jena-Göschwitz, which lies on the central line through Thuringia and has direct connections to cities like Erfurt, Weimar and Gera. (Click the city name link if you would like more information on what to do there too.)

From the train station, take the tram number 3 (no need to change sides) towards Lobeda Ost and get off at stop Platanenstraße. A one-way ticket costs 2.1 EUR (2.32 USD). Take the stairs left of the hospital and follow the trails upward. There are many ways to get up. Do wear sturdy shoes because the terrain is uneven and can get muddy easily.

There are parking spaces up at the restaurant Lobdeburgklause, but only the stairs can take you up to the castle from there. The easiest way with least gradient and no stairs is from Drackendorf (tram stop Universitätsklinikum). Behind the church is a small shady path leading past houses and up to the castle.

How much is Castle Lobdeburg?

It’s free. There is no entrance fee. Plus, it’s always open.

What can you expect to see?

There isn’t that much left of the castle. It’s a ruin with mostly the main tower still being partially standing. The foundations are roughly visible. That being said, you can still see the ruin from afar and up close it’s much more impressive.

Rarely do you get to see the skeleton of a castle tower inside and out from this vicinity. There’s a viewing platform which leads a little into the inside of the tower. Look up to the curved windows and down, trying to image the three floors it held.

If you pay extra attention, you can make out the holes for the beams held the wood holding the floors. And the nooks and chimney.

Note. Please do not attempt to climb the castle walls or tower. Stay safe and be respectful. There have been many restorations to keep it from crumbling even more.

Plus, from the castle, whether it’s right in front of the tower or up a little higher on the hillside, you have a great view over the South of Jena. Yes, Lobeda is not very pretty, it’s a Soviet housing apartment building area. However, in the distance you can see more hills and the popular Leuchtenburg Castle near Kahla.

Lobdeburg Castle in Jena in a snowy landscape
Lobdeburg Castle in the snow (which is rare)

What’s the history of Castle Lobdeburg?

Fun fact: There are actually three castles of the name Lobdeburg on that hill in Jena! Only one of them is still standing, which is the middle one.

Of the last and highest one only a few wall stones remain and you can’t visit it. The lowest one has disappeared completely and it assumed that it lay where today’s marketplace stands.

Don’t get confused if you hear Schloss Lobeda or Untere Lobdeburg (“Lower Lobdeburg”). This is the intact small estate in the Northeast of the district of Altlobeda in Jena, which kinda adopted the name.

You can easily make it out by the round tower with golden detail at the top as well as the white and red striped window panes. It’s a proper fortified residential castle from the Middle Ages.

Originally, the three castles were built by the noblemen of Lobdeburg, who also had the Leuchtenburg in Seitenroda and probably the Tautenburg Castle in Dornburg-Camburg built. Hence, the viewing distance, which was a security mechanism in case of attack. You can “easily” communicate via fire and light signals over that distance.

The first time, the Lobdeburg was mentioned was in 1166 and completed in 1185, so it’s an early medieval castle. They took the name from the already established settlement Lobeda, which is assumed to have been taken from the Sorbian word Loiba, which means “forest”.

The was seized in gthe 13th and 14th centuries and sadly fell into disrepair afterwards. Some of the stones were taken to build the Burgau bridge a short distance away.  It’s hard to tell nowadays, but the Lobdeburg tower used to be one of the most important Romanic buildings in Thuringia state.

In the early 1800s, Jena’s castle was visited multiple times by the famous poet, playboy and Renaissance man Goethe, who visited friends in Drackendorf. He dedicated a poem to the castle, which he named Burg Schloss (“castle palace”).

What else to do

While you’re at the castle, you can stick around and dine or have a drink at the restaurant. It’s a cosy spot serving typical German cuisine and beverages with nice views over the valley from the backyard. During Christmas time, you can spot it from afar with its small lit up Christmas tree.

Explore the pretty country garden in Drackendorf, the church and some of its historic buildings as well. It’s pretty.

Another castle in Jena is the Kunitzburg, at the Northern end of the town. Of the Castle Kirchberg solely the main tower still exists. It’s called Fuchsturm (“fox tower”) and you can climb it. More castles in the vicinity are the Dornburg Castles, Castle Kochberg and Castle Molsdorf in Erfurt. Of course, these are only a few of the coolest castles in Thuringia.

You can actually hike all the way between the castles. That takes nearly three hours. In fact, the entire area is a popular spot for hiking around Jena. You can walk up the limestone steps from the castle to the summer linden tree and back into Drackendorf. Local schools often do this on hiking days.

An alternative is to follow part of the trail North along the mountains and towards the Fürstenbrunnen, a local spring. From there, you can walk back to the main road, where buses head back into the town center.

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How to Visit Medieval Castle Lobdeburg in Jena, Germany
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