Schloss Kirchheim (Teck)
On his return from exile, duke Ulrich of Württemberg ordered seven fortresses to be constructed across the country, in order to better protect its territory from other countries. As part of these measures, the fortifications of Kirchheim unter Teck were expanded and in 1538, the castle was established as a corner rampart of the city wall. This simple functional building with two timber floors with a massive base was completed in 1556 under Ulrich's son and successor, Duke Christoph. At first, the modest palace of the rulers was used for defensive purposes and occasionally as a hunting lodge. When the plague raged in the capital city of Stuttgart in 1594, Frederick I moved his court here. Over time, its importance as a regional fortress decreased and it was gradually transformed into a residential palace.
The building has an irregular diamond shape, with four wings. It was surrounded by a deep moat, which has now been drained. On one side, it still connects to the city walls.
During a two century period starting in 1628, Kirchheim castle served as the residence of the widows of some of the dukes. Residences used by the widows of other dukes included the castles in Nürtingen and Göppingen. Among the residents:
- 1628-1632 Duchess Barbara Sophie of Brandenburg (1584-1636), daughter of Elector Joachim III Frederick of Brandenburg and wife of Duke John Frederick.
- 1675-1690 Duchess Maria Dorothea (1639-1698), born Countess of Oettingen was the wife of Duke Eberhard III.
- 1694-1712 Duchess Magdalena Sibylla of Hesse-Darmstadt (1652-1712), daughter of Landgrave Louis VI of Hesse-Darmstadt and Maria Elisabeth of Holstein-Gottorp. She was the wife of Duke William Louis of Württemberg. She initiated the lavish decoration of the chapel Kirchheim castle.
- 1735-1757 Duchess Joanna Elisabeth of Baden-Durlach (1680-1757), daughter of Margrave Friedrich VII of Baden-Durlach and wife of Duke Eberhard Louis.
- 1795-1811 Duchess Franziska of Hohenheim (1748-1811). She moved into the castle on 22 January 1795 as a widow Duke Charles Eugene and had it remodeled by the ducal architect Reinhard Heinrich Ferdinand Fischer inside and out. New portals were constructed, two small rooms were added on the first floor and a palace terrace was created. The rooms were furnished in the Empire style.
- 1811-1857 Duchess Henrietta of Nassau-Weilburg (1780-1857), daughter of Prince Charles Christian of Nassau-Weilburg and Princess Carolina of Orange. At first, she occupied th castle together with her husband Duke Louis of Württemberg (1756-1817). She was buried in the Stiftskirche, Stuttgart.
After the death of Duchess Henriette, the castle Kirchheimer was used for various purposes. In 1870 and 1871 it served as a hospital for the wounded of the Franco-German War. From 1876 till 1908 the Catholic parish held its services in the chapel. From 1911 till 1948, it contained the city's vocational school for girls, a kindergarten and reidential units. In 1947 the state of Baden-Württemberg assigned the castle to the State Economics School (est. 1923) for teaching and boarding purposes. The Pedagogic Institute and School, the successor to the Economics School, moved into the castle in 1971 and has used the castle ever since.
Kirchheim Castle is one of the state's monuments and is maintained by the organization State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg. The grand living spaces on the south side of the second floor are set up as a palace museum and are open to the public. They are dedicated to the last two residents, Franziska and Henriette. Most of Franziska's furniture has been preserved, and this allowed the state of the castle during Franziska's days to be restored when the castle was reconditioned in 1985 and 1997.