Despite its ruinous state, Schwarzburg is one of the most imposing palaces in central Germany. The commanding complex, which dates back to the 15th century, was one of the ancestral seats of the Schwarzburgs, among the oldest and most powerful of the Thuringian dynasties.
While little survives of the former fortified castle, the architectural structure of the palace is still shaped today by those sections of the building erected in the 16th century. When Count Albert Anton von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (1641–1710) came to power in 1662, the hilltop site of Schwarzburg Palace gained in strategic importance as defensive position for the state; an invasion by Turkish troops was thought unlikely, and yet was still not impossible to imagine.
The master fortress builder Andreas Rudolph (1601–1679) from Gotha was called in to plan defensive fortifications. Later, when Count Ludwig Friedrich I von Schwarzburg-Rudolstadt (1667–1718) took a bride and was then elevated to princely status in 1710, the erection of a stately official residence took priority, executed by the master builders Johann Moritz Richter the Younger (1647–1705) and David Schatz (1668–1750). Beginning in the mid-18th century, the Schwarzburgs resided for the majority of the year in Rudolstadt and used the palace on Schwarzburg hill as summer residence and hunting lodge.
During the Third Reich, the palace was nearly completely destroyed when plans were made between 1940 and 1942 to erect a guesthouse there. It was not until the Emperor’s Hall was carefully restored in 1972 in accordance with the demands of historic preservation for use as a museum that numerous efforts began to be launched to rescue the palace ensemble. Since 2008 the arsenal has also been restored, with the aim of presenting the magnificent weapons collection of the Schwarzburgs in its original historic setting.