Matthias Hultsch

Special exhibition 2023

From the Carrot Bed to the Fortress Wood –
Multi-faceted Fortress Green at Königstein Hill

Opening hours: 1 April - 31 October 2023, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Location: Magdelene's castle / Provisions storehouse

Family friendliness: interactive stations, child-friendly texts

Accessibility: companion for wheelchair users recommended | access with strollers is not possible

Photography: allowed for private use without flash | photo permission required for commercial use

From the Carrot Bed to the Fortress Wood
Multi-faceted Fortress Green at Königstein Hill

This is the first exhibition dedicated to the horticultural and agricultural use of the fortress’s free spaces, but also to the vegetation grown for military purposes. It also reveals places the fortress inhabitants used to retreat to, to get away from the daily hustle and bustle.

Königstein Hill has been inhabited by humans for centuries. They created the plateau and the surroundings of the impressive table hill according to their needs. In 1589, they began to convert the medieval castle into a fortress. It remained fortified until 1913. The main interests of the inhabitants who lived here independently to a great extent for centuries, were self-sufficiency with food, defence of the militarily important location, and embellishing this significant site.

Garden historian Dr. Stefanie Krihning from Dresden has intensively researched this topic for a year and, thus, made some astounding discoveries about ornamental and vegetable gardens, fortress gardeners, goats and chickens, flower thefts, squares dedicated to kings, the fortress wood, and the former vineyard. Some of the trees and shrubs that had been considered wild plants turned out to be a natural disguise of cannons or fortress walls.

The exhibition that takes place at Magdalene’s Castle as well as outside on the fortress grounds, reminds us of vanished places and shows pictures, plans, and objects such as rare historic gardening tools.

Substantial media stations and diverse hands-on activities for children offer in-depth information and variety for visitors of all ages.
It is especially exciting to learn about the favourite places of different fortress inhabitants. You may discover them yourself on your walk around the plateau!

Favourite places

Most inhabitants lived very close to each other in the fortress’ housing area. So it’s hardly surprising that they yearned for their own retreat from the daily hustle and bustle: A shady bower in the garden, a sunny spot with a view over the fortress wall, a quiet bench in the wood, beer garden, vineyard, playground, or skittle alley – several favourite places are known from history.

1 - The Stone Table of Commander von Boblick

In his idle hours, the old fortress commander Heinrich Adolph von Boblick, general of the infantry, liked to be taken in a chair on wheels to a stone table “behind the fire engine house” at the edge of the woods – near today’s Ammunition Store.

2 - Sale of Drinks at Frederick’s Castle

Since its construction in the Renaissance, Frederick’s Castle served, among others, as a summer house  for important guests. In the 19th century, it changed into a sale of refreshments for all fortress visitors. They could buy drinks and souvenirs here. Afterwards, their fortress guide led them back to the exit.

3 - Good Luck! – The Skittle Alley

Skittle was a popular pastime at Königstein hill. There are records of it already from the 18th century – presumably an officers’ sport at the time. In the late 19th century, there was a skittle alley for the common soldiers near the Ammunition Store.

4 - A Playground for the Commander’s Children

The fortress never had an official playground for children. In the 19th century, the fortress children were allowed to play on the “ball meadow” at the vineyard and at the Augustus Square. From 1898 to 1904, Lieutenant Colonel Theobald Emil Alfred Baron of Oer was commander of Königstein Fortress. His children had their own playground.

5 - The Tiny Gardens of Prisoners of War

In World War I, imprisoned officers could no longer be enlisted for work. To busy themselves, they laid out tiny gardens at Königstein hill – but also in other prisoner of war camps. They delighted with flowers, but also served for self-supply.

6 - D’Agdollo‘s Rest and Kreischen‘s Rest

Before Battery 8 was constructed, there were barracks here. West of them were small gardens laid out like terraces. One of them was given to the fortress prisoner Peter Aloysius Marquis d’Agdollo in the late 18th century for his personal use.

In the court in front of today’s casemate restaurant was “Kreischen’s Rest”. Until 1762, a fortress inhabitant by the name of Kreisch(e) had made his favourite place under trees. Unfortunately, nothing else is known about him today.

7 - Outdoor Seating Area at the Officers’ Mess

Since 1888, the former butcher’s building has served as Officers’ Mess and restaurant. Formerly, strangers could only eat here with the commander’s permission. Later, both the building and its outdoor seating area had to be enlarged several times.

8 - Little Gardens of Soldiers and Officials

Already in the 17th century, small gardens were laid out in front of the Old Barracks. They were allocated to the soldiers‘ flats in the building. Over time, the plots changed due to merging and swaps. In the 19th century, most inhabitants of the barracks were fortress officials. The garden served for their self-subsistence, but also for leisure activities.

9 - Zobel‘s Corner

According to the legend, the artillerist Johann Christian Zobel (1685 – 1754) often sat here, knitting long woollen socks. At least since 1723, Zobel was a cannoneer at the fortress and guarded this wall section. That was very uneventful in peacetimes, obviously: So Zobel pursued his needlework and, thus, gained a small additional income. Being a widower, he had to provide for several children.

Today, this part of the rampart run is still called by his name.

10 - The Commander’s Vineyard

In 1783, an earth wall was constructed for the protection of the church and Magdalene’s Castle. Commander Count Friedrich Christoph zu Solms und Tecklenburg had wine planted on its south side. Under the fortress’ rough climate conditions, he may hardly have seriously intended to grow wine. In 1886, the civil fortress prisoner Arthur Haupt also reported that the grapes were no treat at all: “His Excellency’s vineyard was often visited, but I can assure you that [the grapes] were awfully acidic.”
In the late 1880s, the vineyard merged in Battery Wall 7.

11 - Kings at the King’s Nose

The Saxon electors and kings visited the fortress on a more or less regular basis. In 1849, King Frederick Augustus II escaped to Königstein hill from the May Uprising in Dresden. In his memoirs, his brother John talks about a walk to the King’s Nose in the morning after the dramatic escape: “The entire Elbe valley was filled with a white fog like freshly laundered wool, and the individual rocks loomed out of it like islands, while the most beautiful blue sky was above us.”

12 - Viewpoints at the Rampart Run

In good weather, the fortress inhabitants enjoyed the beautiful view of Lilienstein hill and the Elbe valley. They established their own favourite places in different parts of the fortress.

13 - The Catholic Chapel

In 1724, a gunpowder store was built here and was later used as an artillery laboratory. In 1878/79, it was converted into a chapel to spare the Catholic inhabitants long ways to Sunday Mass. The chapel at the end of the fortress wood was also a popular destination and resting place for walkers.

14 - The Criminals‘ Bench

Numerous fortress inhabitants found rest and seclusion in the fortress wood. In 1846, the three military prisoners First Lieutenant Franz Baron von Uckermann, Lieutenant Hugo Eugen von Wolfersdorf, and Cavalry Captain Ottomar Saladin Iscador Islami de Zadora von Paschkowski each served one to seven months fortress detention for duel or “excess”. They made up their favourite place here: the “criminals’ bench”.

15 - The Tennis Court

There was little room for sports activities at the fortress. In 1898, the Gunpowder Store no. 3 in the middle of the fortress wood was removed. Thus, the inhabitants used the resulting free space as a gymnastics area and tennis court.

Übersicht der Lieblingsplätze ehemaliger Festungsbewohner


Go on a discovery tour of the fortress plateau. Find some of the earlier inhabitants’ and guests’ favourite places and discover your own favourite place, too!

download: flyer "Favourite places"

Festung Königstein gGmbH
01824 Königstein

Phone: +49 (0)35021 64 607

Opening hours

April - October 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
November - March 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Last admission 1 hour before closing time