While we are often called “The German Museum of New Braunfels,” the Sophienburg Museum and Archives is so much more than that. We are the gateway to the German community in the Texas Hill Country and we tell the whole story of New Braunfels. We start with its founding in 1845 by German immigrants—strong, proud, well-educated people who worked to establish a thriving community—and document its growth into the city you see flourishing today. Many have contributed to our 174-year history, and we tell their stories, too.
Perched on the edge of the Balcones Escarpment and nestled between the Comal and Guadalupe Rivers, New Braunfels is found in Central Texas (between San Antonio and Austin on I-35). The Sophienburg is just as easy to find—our beautiful grounds are located on a lush hilltop blocks from downtown and the Main Plaza.
Once you arrive, you’ll be able to enjoy our exhibits, research our extensive archives or both! The exhibits feature the story of New Braunfels—including its founding, glimpses of life, events, culture, and traditions at different eras in our community’s development. And our Archives are a prime destination for genealogists and researchers of the German emigration.
In 1844 Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels and a group of emigrants set out from Germany to start a colony in the Republic of Texas. The Prince chose a site on the Comal River because of its abundant water, lush vegetation, and “a good omen.” On March 21, 1845, he and his band of pioneers founded New Braunfels, named after his hometown in Germany.
Prince Carl chose a hill overlooking the beginnings of the town and began his plan to build a castle on the site. His home was to be called Sophienburg (Sophie’s Castle) for his fiancée, Lady Sophia, Princess of Salm-Salm. He returned to Germany to bring Sophia to Texas, but she refused to leave. Prince Carl chose his fiancée over Texas, and stayed in Germany to marry Sophia. He never returned to Texas. Today the Sophienburg Museum and Archives complex stands on the hill chosen long ago by Prince Carl.