Sigmaringen is a town in southern Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. Situated on the upper Danube, it is the capital of the Sigmaringen district. Sigmaringen is renowned for its castle, Schloss Sigmaringen, which was the seat of the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 1850 and is still owned by the Hohenzollern family.


Sigmaringen lies in the Danube valley, surrounded by wooded hills in the south of the Swabian Alb around 40 km north of Lake Constance. The surrounding towns are on the north, Winterlingen (in the district of Zollernalb) and Veringenstadt, on the east, Bingen, Sigmaringendorf and Scheer, on the south, Mengen, Krauchenwies, Inzigkofen and Meßkirch, and on the west, Leibertingen, Beuron and Stetten am kalten Markt. The city is made up from the following districts: Sigmaringen (inner-city), Gutenstein, Jungnau, Laiz, Oberschmeien and Unterschmeien.


Sigmaringen was first documented in 1077 and was part of the principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen until 1850, after which it became the Prussian Province of Hohenzollern.

Prehistory and early history

The history of settlement in the territory of the present town of Sigmaringen dates back to the Paleolithic.

Middle Ages

In the 11th century, the end of the Early Middle Ages, the first castle was built on the rock that protected the valley. The first written reference dates from 1077, when King Rudolf of Rheinfelden tried in vain to conquer Sigmaringen castle. The city was officially founded in 1250. In 1325, it was sold to Ulrich III, Count of Württemberg. In 1460 and 1500, the castle was rebuilt into a chateau. About the county of Werdenberg Sigmaringen came in 1535 to the high noble family of the Hohenzollern.

Modern times

In 1632, the Swedes occupied the castle during the Thirty Years' War. From 1806 to 1849, Sigmaringen was the capital of the sovereign Principality Hohenzollern and residence of the princes of Hohenzollern. As a result of the Sigmaringen Revolution of 1848, the Princes of Hechingen and Sigmaringen abdicated, whereby both principalities fell to Prussia in 1850. From 1850 to 1945, Sigmaringen was the seat of the Prussian Government for the Province of Hohenzollern. Karl Anton von Hohenzollern was 1858-1862 Prime Minister of Prussia. From 1914 to 1918, around 150 men from the town lost their lives during World War I. In the Nazi era, a Gestapo office was located in Sigmaringen. From 1937, it belonged to Stuttgart's Gestapo. Between 1934 and 1942, more than 100 men were sterilized because of "hereditary diseases". On 12 December 1940, during the Nazi medical experiments known as the "T4", 71 mentally handicapped and mentally ill patients became the victims of Nazi injustice. These men and women were deported to the Grafeneck Euthanasia Centre, where they were killed as "unworthy of life". After the closure of Grafeneck in December 1940, a further deportation to the Hadamar Euthanasia Centre occurred on 14 March 1941.

Vichy French enclave (1944–1945)

On September 7 1944, following the Allied invasion of France, Philippe Pétain and members of the Vichy government cabinet were relocated to Germany. A city-state ruled by the government in exile headed by Fernand de Brinon was established at Sigmaringen. There were three embassies in the city-state, representing each of Vichy-France's allies: Germany, Italy, and Japan. French writers Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Lucien Rebatet and Roland Gaucher, fearing for their lives because of their political and anti-Semitic writings, fled along with the Vichy government to Sigmaringen. Céline's novel ''D'un château l'autre'' (English: ''Castle to Castle'') describes the fall of Sigmaringen. The city was taken by Free French forces on April 22, 1945. Pétain returned to France, where he stood trial for treason.


The following religions are present in Sigmaringen: * Catholic Church * Evangelische Landeskirche in Württemberg * Evangelische Militärkirchengemeinde * Pentecostalism * Jehovah's Witnesses * New Apostolic Church

Transportation infrastructure

Three railways meet in Sigmaringen, the Ulm–Sigmaringen railway leading to Ulm, the Tübingen–Sigmaringen railway from Tübingen to Aulendorf and connecting to the Tuttlingen–Inzigkofen railway to Tuttlingen, and the line operated by the Hohenzollerische Landesbahn from Sigmaringen to Hechingen. Sigmaringen lies in the serving area of Verkehrsverbund Neckar-Alb-Donau (NALDO).

Notable residents

Sigmaringen was the birthplace of Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, a Roman Catholic martyr of the Counter-Reformation in Switzerland, and Ferdinand of Romania, King of Romania. It was one of the residences of deceased Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, the late representative of the house, who was the first in the line of succession to the throne of Romania, by Salic law. Frederick Miller, founder of the Miller Brewing Company, was living in Sigmaringen during the start of his brewing career.

People who worked locally

* Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894–1961), pro-Nazi and antisemitic French writer, fled in 1944 to Sigmaringen, along with several members of the Vichy government. * Lucien Rebatet (1903–1972), pro-Nazi and antisemitic French writer, fled in 1944 to Sigmaringen, along with several members of the Vichy government. * Winfried Kretschmann (born 1948), politician, Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg (The Greens), lives in the district of Laiz.

Notable people

* Rosina Gräf genannt Nellin (born in Sigmaringen, died 1577) not guilty in fire as witch * Richard Lauchert (1825–1868), painter and professor * Theodor Bilharz (1825–1862), physician and scientist * Carol I of Romania (1839-1914), King of Romania * Ferdinand I of Romania (1865-1927), King of Romania * Max Giese (1879–1935), contractor, inventor of the concrete pump * Josef Henselmann (1898–1987), sculptor and longtime head of the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich * Johann Georg of Hohenzollern (1932–2016), art historian and museum director * Karl Lehmann (1936-2018), Cardinal and Bishop of Mainz, from 1987 to 2008 chairman of the German Bishops' Conference * Lothar Späth (1937–2016), politician (CDU), former Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg * Pascal Wehrlein (born 1994), Formula 1 racing driver




External links

Official website

Sigmaringen castle
{{Authority control Category:Populated places on the Danube Category:Towns in Baden-Württemberg Category:Vichy France Category:Sigmaringen (district) Category:Province of Hohenzollern