East German palaces and castles to get €400m for renovation

Move addresses "investment backlog" for upgrades to cultural sites in Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia

The baroque palace Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha will be the biggest beneficiary © Benjamin Bindewald

The German government and the eastern states of Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia have approved €400m in funding for the restoration and renovation of castles and palaces through to 2027, with half of the money coming from the federal government.

The castles that stand to benefit from the investment in Saxony-Anhalt include the medieval Burg Falkenstein in the Harz Mountains and Schloss Neuenburg in the wine-growing town of Freyburg on the Unstrut river. The largest beneficiary in Thuringia is the baroque palace Schloss Friedenstein, once the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, whose descendants included Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert.

“Thirty years after German reunification, it still takes a lot of commitment to preserve these valuable cultural sites and lead them into the future,” Culture Minister Monika Grütters said in a statement. Rainer Robra, the culture minister of Saxony-Anhalt, said the agreement represents an opportunity to address “an investment backlog” that would enable the state to undertake more comprehensive refurbishments and improve tourist facilities.

But Thuringia’s culture minister, Benjamin-Immanuel Hoff, cautioned that the funding would not be enough in the long term. “We can already see the need for a second special investment programme that we will negotiate with the federal government in due course,” he said.

The federal culture ministry said it will also fund a separate €150m-programme in the two states for activities such as provenance research and projects to benefit cultural tourism across the states’ borders.