Castles in the Lower Rhine Valley

Broich Castle

Broich Castle was originally erected to protect the town of Mülheim from invasion by the the Normans in the late 9th century. It is probably the oldest, still maintained Carolingian fortification in German-speaking Europe.  The abandoned castle was rebuilt and expanded by the noblemen of Broich in the end of the 11th century. The castle survived a long and eventful history, including bloody feuds, wars, occupat ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany

Electoral Palace

The Electoral Palace (Kurfürstliches Schloss) in Bonn is the former residential palace of the Prince-Electors of Cologne. Since 1818, it has been the University of Bonn"s main building in the city center, home to the University administration and the faculty of humanities and theology. The palace was built by Enrico Zuccalli for the prince-elector Joseph Clemens of Bavaria from 1697 to 1705. The Hofgarte ...
Founded: 1697-1705 | Location: Bonn, Germany

Schloss Drachenburg

Schloss Drachenburg is a private villa in palace style constructed in the late 19th century. It was completed in only two years (1882–84) on the Drachenfels hill in Königswinter, a German town on the Rhine near the city of Bonn. Baron Stephan von Sarter (1833–1902), a broker and banker, planned to live there, but never did. Today the Palace is in the possession of the State Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia ...
Founded: 1882-1884 | Location: Königswinter, Germany

Drachenfels Castle Ruins

The ruined castle Burg Drachenfels, on the summit of the Dhill, was built between 1138 and 1167 by Archbishop Arnold I of Cologne and bears the same name. It was originally intended for the protection of the Cologne region from any assault from the south. Originally it consisted of a bergfried with court, chapel and living quarters for servants. The castle was slighted in 1634, during the Thirty Years' War, b ...
Founded: 1138-1167 | Location: Königswinter, Germany

Augustusburg Palace

Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle. In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François ...
Founded: 1725-1768 | Location: Brühl, Germany

Linz Castle

Linz Castle is an old customs castle and fortress. It dates back to 1365 and was built by the Archbishop of Cologne, Engelbert von der Mark. After an eventful history, the castle has been under private ownership since 1985. The castle in the heart of the town of Linz on the Rhine is once again a major tourist attraction after undergoing extensive refurbishment. Today visitors will find catering from the Middle Ages in th ...
Founded: 1365 | Location: Linz am Rhein, Germany

Schloss Benrath

Schloss Benrath is a Baroque-style maison de plaisance (pleasure palace) in Benrath, which is now a borough of Düsseldorf. It was erected for the Elector Palatine Charles Theodor and his wife, Countess Palatine Elisabeth Auguste of Sulzbach, by his garden and building director Nicolas de Pigage. Construction began in 1755 and was completed in 1770. The ensemble at Benrath has been proposed for designation as a ...
Founded: 1755-1770 | Location: Düsseldorf, Germany

Linn Castle

The oldest fortress on the Lower Rhine is located in the historic Krefeld suburb of Linn. The former country castle belonging to the Electorate of Cologne has its origins around 1200. It was badly damaged during the Spanish Civil War of 1704. The beautiful water castle is well preserved and includes a bailey, hunting lodge and tithe barn. In the accompanying Landscape Museum it is possible to view excavation finds from t ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Krefeld, Germany

Bergh Castle

Huis Bergh (Huis Bergh) is one of the largest castles in the Netherlands. It gives its name to the Land van den Bergh and was previously owned by the counts van Bergh. The castle history dates back to the 13th century. The main parts of the castle are from the 14th, 15th and 17th century. In the beginning of the Dutch Revolt the house got damaged by war. In 1735 the castle burned down. In 1912 Huis Bergh and all belongi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: ´s-Heerenberg, Netherlands

Anholt Castle

Anholt moated castle is one of North-Rhine Westphalia"s few privately owned castles. It first appears in records in the 12th century. Further extensions in around 1700 created a grand Baroque residence with the feel of a palace. Today, the moated castle is used as a museum founded by Prince Nikolaus of Salm-Salm, which features a private collection documenting his family"s history. The historical housekeeping ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Anholt, Germany

Falkenlust Palace

Just a short, enchanting stroll away from Augustusburg Palace in Brühl, Falkenlust is located on the edge of a secluded grove as the favourite hunting lodge of the Cologne elector and Archbishop Clemens August (1700-1761). One of the most intimate and precious creations of German Rococo was built in a few short years (1729-1737) according to the plans of François de Cuvilliés, court architect of the Ba ...
Founded: 1729-1737 | Location: Brühl, Germany

Moyland Castle

Moyland Castle (Schloss Moyland) is a moated castle in Bedburg-Hau in the district of Kleve, one of the most important neo-Gothic buildings in North Rhine-Westphalia. 1307 is the first time that a fortified farm called Moyland is documented with ditches and ramparts. It was between 1345 and 1355 redesigned by Roland von Hagedorn into a classical gothic castle with a square floor plan. In addition to three round ...
Founded: 1345-1355 | Location: Kleve, Germany

Godesburg Castle

Godesburg castle was built in the early 13th century on the Godesberg, a hill of volcanic origin, it was largely destroyed following a siege in 1583 at the start of the Cologne War. The site has a controversial history. First mentioned in documents from the early 8th century, there was supposedly an old cult site and its name derived from the old Germanic Wotansberg, Woudensberg, or Gotansberg. The fortress founda ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bonn, Germany

Löwenburg Castle

Löwenburg castle was built around 1200 by the Counts of Sayn. Together with the Castle of Blankenberg high above the valley of river Sieg it secured their territory.  In the second half of the 13th century the old keep was torn down. Only then the castle whose ruins we see today was built. In the late Middle Ages the Löwenburg went through an eventful history until it fell to the Counts of Berg in 1484. It was destroye ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Bad Honnef, Germany

Lede Castle

Burg Lede in Bonn-Vilich, the oldest part of Bonn, is a real gem. The origins of the site goes back to the 14th century. Von Loë family still lives in the castle. The personal atmosphere of the castle with its salons, the library, the castle kitchen and the small courtyard create an unusual ambiance for events ranging from weddings, official business events to a private cookery course with friends. A limited number of re ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Bonn, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.