The Ritual Tour

As a result of the relationships revealed so far, there is one aspect that unites them: The castle contains a message in those rooms that are marked differently and embody a certain statement or meaning. The castle represents an organism in which a ritual action results through its passage. In the following the statements and the markings of these rooms are revealed, which deter­mine the direction of the visitor to be taken, with which the ritual of the tour is fulfilled.


In order to understand the assignment of meanings to spaces, the remarks on the mnemonic technique of antiquity, the so-called memory art, which was taken up again in the Renaissance, are being useful. With this “Ars Memoriae” you imprint images or statements that Giordano Bruno calls ‘phantasms’ by assigning them to spaces that are in a particular order. Their result of making texts memorable or effective is based on fixing individual things or phenomena spatially in their affinities, opposites or correspondences – in such a way that they express a pattern, an orientation, an order or a harmony meaning which can be attributed to them. Not only the grotto, but the whole building is associated with this fundamental principle of concatenation.

There is nothing to invent in this place, everything is predetermined here to be rediscovered again. Here the figurative embellishments as well as their accompanying spatial references according to Giordano Bruno are to be understood as ‘phantasms’ in order to recognize their underlying order.

Quote Culianu – To the cycle of memory images:

In fact, this [memory] art requires a complete concentration that can only be acquired in solitude. It follows that one must practice the mnemonic activity in a church, in a cemetery, in an abandoned castle, avoiding all society and distraction. The parts of the place you have to memorize in a specific order. Each piece is assigned a sequence of the message or series of words to be memorized.

.Ioan P. Culianu, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance und Magie in der Renaissance, Frankfurt/M 2001. S.66


The castle is directional for the person who moves in it. The relationship between the building and its visitor is formed by traversing the interstices, the transitions that are so important because they delineate the individual areas, while at the same time giving meaning to them. The castle is a mirror image of the cosmos, its spaces pointing the way for the person who moves in it.

Quote: the doorways of Egyptian temples
The sea, hated by the Egyptians as an element of the Typhon, would have regarded [the Pythagoreans] as the tear of Kronos, thereby indicating the impure and strange nature of the sea. They too, like the Egyptian Priests, had been sacred to the doorways in which it was a crime to speak.

Theodor Hopfner, Orient and Greek Philosophy, Leipzig 1923 page 5


The tour leads through fourteen rooms in three floors – ground floor, guest floor and living floor, which have a total of twenty-three crossings. It starts at the garden portal of the castle in the southwest wing, which thus represents the ritual entrance of the castle, then leads through the viewing axis and the staircase in the north in the ritual spaces of the southwest tract. From there to the spiral staircase in the south-eastern tract down to the ritual rooms of the first floor. The tour ends in the room in the western corner of the building – in memory of the of the four most important humanists of the Renaissance whose ideas were realized in the castle.

There are six transitions on the ground floor, thirteen on the second floor – eight of them in the temple hall – and four on the first floor. The following are the descriptions of the meanings of the transitions in detail and their sequence, which discloses the consecutive numbering corresponding to those sequences of meaning, which are discussed in section 7. CODE


1.The entrance – the dedication to Venus

The starting point of the tour lies in today’s back of the castle. Turning to the building, the back of the castle becomes the front, and the garden portal becomes the entrance to the building. From here, the visitor follows the line of sight that runs through the entire ground floor of the building, exposing the emptiness of its center. In the sac of the portal, the medallion “Triumphal Procession of Venus over the Waters” presents the program of the building: it is dedicated to love as the strongest force of the cosmos. The statement of this passage as the first, as the very first start of the tour is set. The different marking of the pages is shown by the solitary Amor and Venus with their entourage on the right.

2. The grotto – the space below

The grotto corresponds to the interior of the earth. The space between the statues of the two lovers, which the visitor measures through, forms the second passage of the ritual tour.

The marking results from Neptune sitting with Amphitrite on the left, which points to the contrast of the sexes in the battle of love, while the right-seated Diana with Orion alludes to their union.

3. Okeanos, the origin of water

The third passage is formed by the gate from the grotto into the courtyard, whose vestments are decorated with the representation of Okeanos, the original god of the water. The basic message of this passage consists by naming the water, which becomes its grasping point.

The two markings result from the children playing on the left, Okeanos lying under the tree with his bucket on the right.

4. The courtyard – the enclosed space

The fourth of the images is formed by the courtyard enclosed by the concentric inner walls of the building, the fountain of which, with its source, reproduces the heart of the castle, but also the centre of the whole universe. Its basic meaning corresponds to the enclosed, the delimitation of the space by the walls of the yard.
In the sense of the different sides of the ritual rooms, the south-east wall of the courtyard was adorned with a huge fresco of a giant reaching into the cornice, which disappeared in the course of the acid rain. This giant corresponds to the description of the Pimander in the corpus Hermeticum.

Quote The first book – Hermetis Trismegisti Poemander

1. Once, when I was looking at the essential things, and when my mind rose, the senses of my body were completely engulfed; like one who has been overweighted by food or tired of work, has been assaulted by sleep.
2. And it seemed to me as if I saw someone who was very tall, and of an infinite length, calling my name, and speaking to me:
3. What do you want to hear and see, and what is that you in yours? Mind to learn and recognize?
4. I spoke, who are you?
5. He spoke, I am Pomeranian, the mind, of the self-existing being, I know what you desire, and am with you everywhere. 6. I spoke, I desire to learn the essential things, to understand and to know the same nature. 7. How? 8. I spoke, I want to hear it.

5. The entrance hall – the house

The fifth of the ‘phantasms’ of the ground floor forms the Hall of Honour of the imperial army, a two-aisled entrance hall which is to be ritually understood as the first interior of the building. The side markings result from the contrast between the two medallions on the ceiling of the vault, which both represent the glory of Count Christian Ludwig: the over painted left medaillon the announcement as a first-born, the right in front of the staircase his heroic death as an imperial officer on August 12, 1687 in the decisive battle against the Osmans. Entering the castle from this side, it is dedicated to him.

6. The staircase – the way upstairs

From the entrance hall to the right the door to the stairwell opens up to the attic floor. The basic meaning here is the rising up, to “above”. Here starts the upward counter-clockwise rotation of the visitor, which continues throughout the ritual area of the second floor. The right side here is the outer wall of the castle, which faces the inner wall of the building on the left.


In the two upper floors of the castle, all the rooms of the ritual tour are marked by the different marking of the two sides of the stucco frames of their ceilings – except the stucco ceiling of the banqueting hall, which has been lost.

7. The vestibule – the fork of the tour

This is the vestibule in front of the three festively decorated ritual rooms, in two openings lead: a mundane through the double doors and a ritual through the fake fireplace, which is located on the opposite narrow side of the room. The basic meaning of this space corresponds to the “fork” of the path, which deviates from the ritual tour. Despite the damage of the stucco ceiling, the difference between the stucco moldings of the two long sides is detectable in the presence and absence of one of the four buds.

8. The birth of Venus – The formation of love in the waters

In the ritual tour, this room is accessible only bent over through the fake fireplace at the front of the room. Through it, one enters the space of the water, in that the ceiling fresco shows a surface of water in which Venus floats on a shell and thus sets the basic meaning “water”. In the sense of the different marking of the sides, the ceiling fresco is enclosed by the ornate letters R = right and L = left of the stucco frame.

9. – 16.Hermes Trismegistos – The wise of signs and numbers

There are eight transitions in this hall: The ritual performed in this hall consists of passing through eight interspaces in a marked sequence, which consists of a counter-clockwise rotation. This begins when entering from the water room in the western corner and ends in the eastern corner of the hall. The eight transitions between the four doors, the two open fireplaces and the two frescoed Hermes figures. These transitions are also referred to through the eight frescoes of passages in the open landscape in the skylights of the skylights. By the way, the sum of the ordinal numbers from 9 to 16 gives exactly the number 100.

17. The union in love – the culmination

The central ceiling fresco of this room adjoining the temple hall shows Amor, who with his arrow unites the hero Hercules depicted as a houseman with the Lydian Queen Omphale. The basic meaning of this space is the duplication that results from the union. This is the highlight of the tour.

The different side markings are indicated by the number of rose petals at the corners of the stucco frame of the ceiling fresco – twice the number six on the left and two different numbers on the right, namely six and five. In addition, on the left side seen from the castle, there is one imperial crown opposite the two goblets on the right.

18. The guestroom – the impetuous

In the adjacent visitor’s room, the ceiling has different shapes of the stucco frame: on the left against the visitor’s direction the plant leaf is damaged in the middle, undamaged on the right.

19. The spiral staircase – the decreasing way down

Right here the ritual tour changes direction leading clockwise down into the first floor where it ends at the opposite, the western corner of the castle. The term that fits to this space is that of decline associated with it.


20. The working room – the conclusion

With this room, the “working steps” of the tour are completed. The following rooms corresponding to the seventh day of creation serve the celebration of the tour.
In the stucco frame of the ceiling, in turn, the direction of the tour is clearly marked. Similar to the room of love upstairs four plant motives extend into the central field of the ceiling, three of equal design, the forth on the right being different: So you have one type of sprouts on the left against two types on the right side – as seen from the castle.

In view of the special significance of the room as working room for the master of the castle, the number of rosettes in the stucco frame of the ceiling on both sides is ten, and that of the broad sides is six: the space halved results on both sides 5-6-5, the double five, which is the name of God expressed in numbers, the Tetragrammaton.

21. The sleeping room – the recreation

The adjoining room due to its location in the southern corner has always been the bedroom of the owner of the castle, is identified by the portrayals of swans and serpents in the stucco moldings of the flat ceiling as sanctuary of the Kabirs: on the long sides, the kissing swans as a representation of love between Demeter and Persephone, mother and daughter; on the broadsides the fight of the swans with the serpents on the left and opposite the union of the serpents with the two swans on the right, as the serpents are being eaten up by the swans.

Source: Pausanias, description of Greece, the sanctuary of the Kabirs in Viotia in central Greece, near a sanctuary of Hercules, which is decorated in the red room above.

22. The ballroom – the festivity room

The sleeping room is followed by the recreation hall, as the temple hall above it with four doors and two open fireplaces. Documents and hotos on the walls explain the interrelations of the rooms and the figurative decoration of the castle. To distinguish the two long sides, in the middle of the stucco frame on the ceiling on the left side of a nasty mask, while just opposite a lovely mask is inserted.

Left, the nasty mask © Initiative Haggenberg

Right, the lovely mask © Initiative Haggenberg

23. The four philosophers – the room of the founders

This room in the western corner room of the first floor is the strangest room of the ritual tour, which ends here. In the stucco molding of the ceiling four crowned philosophers are incorporated. They depicture those spiritual giants on whose conceptions the pattern of the castle is based. On the north-western side of the ceiling, that is on the right side, Marsilio Ficino and Pico della Mirandola, facing each other, whereas Giordano Bruno and Francis Bacon on the left are turned away from each other: Ficino and Pico belong together, whereas the latter two had nothing to do with each other. This marking shows that it no longer leads into the adjoining rooms, but points outwards, into the window in the southwest façade.

These four philosophers with their juxtaposition can also be found as reliefs on the four stone slabs, which today stand in front of the main facade of castle Ernstbrunn, but originally served as a cladding of the base of an equestrian monument which stood at the entrance to the chestnut avenue of Haggenberg Castle. Their photos are displayed in the ballroom. The age difference of the two philosophers from Florence: Marsilio Ficino old, Pico presented young – is clearly recognizable. These two Philosophers in Florence were the founders of the Renaissance in Europe.

The facing philosophers Ficino with young Pico © Initiative Haggenberg

The opposing philosophers © Initiative Haggenberg


Michael & Marion Osmann Hagenberg 1, 2133 Fallbach


A tour through the castle is possible on every Sunday at 2:30 p.m. during the warm season or on appointment. Meeting point on the brick bridge over the moat. The tour lasts about 90 minutes. Please register at:

+43 660 1606233

For details see link under: Openings

Connoisseurs of ancient mythology welcome.

The restoration of the temple hall

Those who would like to be part of the refurbishment can do so on the special donation account IBAN: Vereinskonto Initiative Haggenberg AT83 3241 3000 0008 3824              (BIC: RLNWATWWLAA)

Details see link under: Journal - The restoration of the temple hall

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