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Reinhardsbrunn in Friedrichroda near Gotha, in the German state of Thuringia, is the site of a formerly prominent Benedictine abbey, the house monastery of the Ludovingian Landgraves of Thuringia abbey extant between 1085 and 1525. Later used as an administrative seat by the Ernestine dukes of Saxony, the premises were turned into a castle and park erected by the Dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha from 1827.
Reinhardsbrunn Abbey (German: Kloster Reinhardsbrunn) was a house of the Benedictine Order founded by the Thuringian landgrave Louis the Springer in 1085, against the background of the fierce Investiture Controversy between Emperor and Pope. It was settled by monks descending from Hirsau Abbey and soon evolved as a centre of the Hirsau Reforms in Thuringia. Like Hirsau, the Reinhardsbrunn monastery was closely related to Cluny Abbey; it stood under Papal protection from 1093. It was also of significance as the proprietary monastery and burial ground of the Ludovingian landgraves like Hermann I who was entombed here in 1217.
The monastery became less important after the extinction of the Ludovingians in 1247. Nevertheless, their Wettin successors still used it as a dynastic burial site and an important chronicle was commissioned around 1340, reflecting the history of Thuringia and Germany back to the 6th century. The monastery was looted and sacked during the German Peasants' War in 1525. The monks took refuge within the walls of Gotha and the site was secularized and sold to the Electors of Saxony. While the surrounding estates were administrated by a Saxon Amtmann officials, the former monastery buildings fell into ruin.
Castle and park
Reinhardsbrunn was part of the Ernestine duchy of Saxe-Weimar from 1572. Duke Friedrich Wilhelm I had parts of the monastery rebuilt as a local administrative seat. The main castle building, restored in about 1706 under Duke Frederick II of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, was rebuilt as a pleasure palace - Reinhardsbrunn Castle - in 1827. Duke Ernest I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who had inherited the site the year before, built his summer residence here in an English style, surrounded by the first Romantic park in Thuringia. Ernst I was the father of Prince Albert, and hence the father-in-law to Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom. It was not, as has been alleged, at Reinhardsbrunn that Victoria met Albert for the first time. They met first in London in May 1836, though after their marriage (1840) and after Albert's death (1861) Queen Victoria did visit Reinhardsbrunn in 1845 and 1862. The duke Ernest II of Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha, Albert's bigger brother, died in the castle on August 22, 1893.
The Saxe-Coburg and Gotha family kept possession until the end of World War II, when, after some time in the hands of the East German state, the house and estate were used for a short time by Soviet Red Army forces as a military hospital and then for various functions by the government of East Germany, who opened the castle as a showpiece hotel in 1961. Listed in 1891 as one of the artistic landmarks of the duchy, and in 1980 as a landmark of national significance by East Germany, after German reunification the castle was registered in 1992 by the State of Thuringia as a historic monument. Together with its facilities and park, it passed from the Treuhandanstalt into the possession of Western hotel companies, then to a Weimar company, BOB Consult GmbH. BOB Consult was purchased in 2008 by a Russian investment consortium, Rusintech, which did not maintain the castle. The state of Thuringia performed needed repairs, and in July 2018 legally repossessed it to ensure its safety, the first such action in the Federal Republic.
- Andreas Förster (5 August 2015). "Das verlorene Paradies" [The lost paradise]. Frankfurter Rundschau (in German).
- "Gotha and its surroundings" (PDF). Tourismus Thüringer Wald. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 May 2014.
- "Eins der schönsten Stückchen Erde. Bedrohtes Kulturerbe: Schloss Reinhardsbrunn in Thüringen verfällt zusehends" [One of the prettiest places on earth. Cultural heritage threatened: Reinhardsbrunn Castle in Thuringia visibly going to ruin]. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (in German). 20 June 2013. p. 27.
- Замок Райнхардсбрунн: проклятие сибирских денег [Reinhardsbrunn Castle: The curse of Siberian money] (in Russian). Deutsche Welle. 10 July 2018.
- "Schloss Reinhardsbrunn: 20.000 Euro für Sicherungsarbeiten" [Reinhardsbrunn Castle: 20,000 euro for stabilising work]. Gothaer Tagespost (subscription required) (in German). 4 June 2013.
- "Schloss Reinhardsbrunn - enteignet, um es zu retten" [Reinhardsbrunn Castle - seized to save it]. Südthüringen.de (subscription required) (in German). 10 July 2018.
- "Schloss Reinhardsbrunn in Thüringen und das sibirische Geld" [Reinhardsbrunn Castle in Thuringia and the Siberian money] (in German). Deutsche Welle. 16 July 2018.
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