Trifels Castle was not only a simple knight's castle, but also an emperor's castle, the favourite castle of Emperor Barbarossa. The most distinguished royal festival of the Staufer period is located on the highest of the three cone-shaped castle mountains above Annweiler, the Sonnenberg hill.
The castle is situated 310 m above Annweiler, on a triple split rock, which is 145 m long, 40 m wide and 50 m high. This is why the name "Tri - fels" (Three Rocks) is derived. The Sonnenberg hill is said to have originally carried a ring wall. The Salians gave it a wooden and stone castle. Only the Staufer built it out to the national Reichsburg. It became the treasure chamber of the empire and storage place of the imperial jewels (imperial crown, imperial cross and sword), the highest symbols of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. Today the replicas of the imperial jewels are exhibited here. The Trifels was also an important state prison, the most famous prisoner was the English King Richard the Lionheart (1193/94).
To this day, the name Richard the Lionheart is associated with the legend of the ideal knight and energetic king. How did this myth come about? What distinguishes the charcter of Lionheart that has served as a projection for chivalry and daring for centuries?
At Trifels Castle, Richard, a prisoner of the Staufer Emperor Henry VI, was confronted with a long list of accusations in a kind of show trial on 22 March 1193. The English ruler spent more than a year in captivity - here at the castle, in the imperial palace in Hagenau, now Alsace, and in Speyer, Worms and Mainz, the important cities on the Upper Rhine. A ransom of unprecedented magnitude was demanded for his release: 100,000 Marks, equivalent to 23 tons of pure silver.