Things to Do

3 Reasons to Visit The Sophienburg Museum in New Braunfels

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Tony Maples Photography


Hidden in a quiet, historic neighborhood, just a few blocks from New Braunfels’ charming downtown scene sits The Sophienburg Museum and Archives. The museum is situated on the very land where Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels established a small colony, (just on the edge of Indian territory) in the hopes of building a fortress (which was to be called “Fort Sophie,” after his beloved Princess Sophie) in 1845. The fortress was never built as Prince Carl couldn’t stand being away from Germany and his Princess, but he and his small army of fellow Germans left behind a legacy rich in ingenuity, pride, and prosperity.

The Archives is one of the largest repositories that chronicle the German immigration movement to Texas. With documents that include immigration ship passenger lists, over one million images and a huge collection of local newspapers (in German and in English) dating from 1852 to present day, researchers and genealogy buffs alike can find exactly what they’re looking for in the Archives’ six major collections. There are also German translators available to assist in translating German documents into English.

The Sophienburg Museum of History is a delightful outing offering visitors a glimpse of what life was like for German immigrants in Texas. Currently, the museum’s focus is on World War I and its impact on Comal County. With so much of New Braunfels’ population being of German descent, the war placed these loyal citizens in conflict with their German heritage. About 500 New Braunfels citizens answered the call to serve our country in the Armed Forces during World War I, making an impact on the community as well as the world.

While there are many more popular tourist destinations in New Braunfels, The Sophienburg shouldn’t be overlooked. Here are three reasons to pay the museum a visit on your next trip to New Braunfels:

1. It’s family-friendly.

Kid Friendly

Photo: Jenny Webster Jurica

While the Archives probably aren’t of interest to children, the Museum of History is surprisingly kid-friendly. Kids will be entertained by the museum’s informative videos and a scavenger hunt will keep them engaged and foster their competitive spirits. They’ll also enjoy seeing how children in early New Braunfels spent their time.

2. Beautiful Grounds


Photo: Jenny Webster Jurica

The Museum and Archives sit on a parcel of land overlooking the historic town. It was under a grove of elm trees on this property on August 11, 1845 that Hermann Seele, New Braunfels’ first school teacher, held class for 15 pupils at the foot of the hill. The property also boasts the Emmie Seele Faust Memorial Library Building, which may be rented for event venues and includes the Malmstead Outdoor Pavilion on the lush, shady grounds of Sophienburg Hill.

3. A Gift Shop Like None Other


Photo: Facebook/Sophienburg.Museum 

“Sophie’s Shop” carries the finest German and European nutcrackers, smokers, glass ornaments and traditional Christmas decor all year long. With an interesting mix of hard-to-find books, souvenirs and New Braunfels collectibles, you’ll be hard pressed to leave the shop without a new tchotchke in hand.

When you’re sunburned from Schlitterbahn and ready for a low-key day in New Braunfels, consider a visit to The Sophienburg Museum. It’s centrally located near the best shopping and dining in downtown New Braunfels and everyone in the family is sure to find something of interest there. While you’re there, look out from atop the highest point in downtown New Braunfels and imagine the vision of a utopian society that Prince Carl of Solms-Braunfels had when he first settled this primitive area in 1845.