Arenenberg is the name of a castle on the shores of Untersee in the municipality of Salenstein in the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland. It is located opposite the island of Reichenau. The historical significance of this estate stems from its function as the residence of the former Dutch Queen Hortense de Beauharnais and later the French Emperor Napoleon III. Today, the castle is home to the Napoleon Museum, which is largely furnished with the original furniture.
The origins of the castle date back to the early 16th century, when it was built by Sebastian Geissberg, the mayor of Constance. In 1817, Johann Baptist von Streng sold the castle to the ex-queen Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Napoleon’s first wife, Empress Joséphine, and wife of Napoleon’s brother Louis, who was King of Holland from 1806 to 1810.
Hortense carried out extensive alterations to the castle before living in it temporarily from 1818. She had the surrounding wall torn down, the main building lost its battlements and turrets, and all but one of the farm buildings were removed. A lively social life took place under her aegis, and personalities such as Alexandre Dumas, Julie Récamier, François-René de Chateaubriand, Casimir Delavigne and Count Francesco Arese were honored as guests. Hortense stayed at the Arenenberg until her death in 1837.
Louis Napoleon, who later became known as Emperor Napoleon III, spent part of his childhood and youth at Arenenberg Castle. His education and schooling in Augsburg were supplemented by study rooms in the remaining farm buildings at Arenenberg.
In 1832, he was made an honorary citizen of the municipality of Salenstein. It was also here that he made plans for his failed coup attempt in Strasbourg in 1836. After a brief exile in the United States, he returned to Arenenberg in 1837 as his mother was dying.
In 1843, Louis Napoleon, who was in need of funds following another failed coup attempt in exile in England, sold the castle. In April 1855, his wife, Empress Eugénie, bought the property back for him as a birthday present. She had it renovated and partially redesigned in 1855 and 1874. Napoleon III’s last visit to the Arenenberg took place in August 1865. After his death, Eugénie visited the castle several times and finally donated it to the Canton of Thurgau in 1906.
Napoleon Museum at Arenenberg Castle
The Napoleon Museum at Arenenberg Castle is dedicated to the history of Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland, and her son Napoleon III.
The museum presents an impressive collection of personal objects, paintings and pieces of furniture that illustrate the life and times of these prominent historical figures. Visitors can immerse themselves in the world of the 19th century and experience the family ties and political events.
The museum offers unique insights into the life of the Bonaparte family, their relationships and the cultural influences of the time.
Video Arenenberg Castle – Napoleon Museum
Arenenberg is an estate with a small chateau, Schloss Arenenberg, in the municipality of Salenstein at the shore of Lake Constance in Thurgau, Switzerland that is famous as the final domicile of Hortense de Beauharnais.
While Hortense initially spent time at her house in Augsburg, Arenenberg soon became her main domicile. At her Parisian-styled salon she entertained many luminaries. Her son Louis Napoléon, the future emperor Napoléon III, who had attended school in Augsburg, visited Arenenberg as a teenager; there he was further educated and then attended the Swiss military academy at Thun, receiving Swiss citizenship.
In 1837, while he was exiled and living in New York City, Louis Napoleon received notice of his mother’s deteriorating health and returned to Arenenberg. Hortense died on 5 October 1837. She was the daughter of Josephine de Beauharnais, the first wife of Napoleon Bonaparte.
Video Napoleon Museum in Salenstein (TG)