History carved in stone
Because of the many dominions, borders and trade routes, numerous castles and fortified churches were built in the Middle Ages. A number of castles were converted to fortresses in later centuries, such as the Rosenberg fortress in Kronach - one of the largest of its kind in Europe - and others to romantic castles, such as Wespenstein Castle in Gräfenthal or the Mitwitz moated castle, yet others were destroyed in ancient or more recent times, such as in Blankenberg. In Lichtenberg, only a castle dungeon testifies to the mediaeval times, when it was a town of robber barons. Lauenstein Castle, between Ludwigsstadt and Probstzella on the other hand, shines in unblemished splendour and houses - like most other fortresses and castles in the region - an impressive collection of valuable cultural artefacts.
World art behind thick walls
One of the most valuable collections is in the Rosenberg fortress in Kronach. The Franconian Gallery housed there is a branch museum of the Bavarian National Museum, and displays works by Lucas Cranach the Elder, the most famous son of the city, by the famous master builder Tilman Riemenschneider and by Veit Stoß, sculptor and woodcarver of the late Gothic era.
Cultural treasures hidden away
A very special treasure was for a long time hidden from the public in the seclusion of the GDR restricted area: In Probstzella, the "Haus des Volkes" contains the largest ensemble of Bauhaus architecture in Thuringia. It was bought privately in a very poor condition, and renovated. It now houses, among other things, a hotel and one of the largest event halls in the region.