Castles in the Upper Rhine Valley

Palais Rohan

The Palais Rohan represents not only the high point of local baroque architecture, but has also housed three of the most important museums in the Strasbourg since the end of the 19th century: the Archaeological Museum, the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Museum of Fine Arts. The city gallery, Galerie Robert Heitz, is also in a side wing of the palace. The palace was commissioned by Cardinal Armand Gaston Maximilien de ...
Founded: 1731-1742 | Location: Strasbourg, France

Karlsruhe Palace

Karlsruhe Palace was erected in 1715 by Margrave Charles III William of Baden-Durlach, after a dispute with the citizens of his previous capital, Durlach. The city of Karlsruhe has since grown around it. The first building was constructed by Jakob Friedrich von Batzendorf. The city was planned with the tower of the palace at the centre and 32 streets radiating out from it like spokes on a wheel, or ribs on a folding fan. ...
Founded: 1715 | Location: Karlsruhe, Germany

Bruchsal Palace

Bruchsal Palace (Schloss Bruchsal) is the only Prince-Bishop’s residence on the Upper Rhine. It is famous for its opulent Baroque staircase constructed by Balthasar Neumann. Bruchsal Palace was constructed in 1720 as a residence for the Prince-Bishops of Speyer. The then Prince-Bishop, Damian Hugo von Schönborn, an avid art collector, played an important role in planning the complex. The three-wing palace is bu ...
Founded: 1720 | Location: Bruchsal, Germany

Hohenbaden Castle Ruins

Hohenbaden Castle, built in 1102, and known locally as the Altes Schloss (Old Castle) was home from the 11th-15th century to the margraves of Baden. During its heyday in the 15th century, the castle had 100 rooms. In 1479 margraves moved their seat to Baden and the old castle started to decay. In 1599 it was destroyed by fire. From the tower you have a good view over Baden-Baden and distant view of the Rhine valley. The ...
Founded: 1102 | Location: Baden-Baden, Germany

Rastatt Palace

Schloss Rastatt is a baroque palace built between 1700 and 1707 by the Italian architect Domenico Egidio Rossi. The palace and garden were built to Margrave Louis William of Baden. During the Palatine war of succession the residence of Margrave Louis William of Baden-Baden had been burnt by French troops. A rebuild of the destroyed castle would not have suited the representative needs of the court of Baden-Baden. Since he ...
Founded: 1700-1707 | Location: Rastatt, Germany

Ettlingen Palace

Ettlingen castle was first mentioned in the 13th century. It has been destroyed several times over the centuries, rebuilt and expanded. In 1727 decided the Margravine Sibylla Augusta to use the castle as a retirement home. Johann Michael Rohrer created the Baroque palace from the castle ruins. Artists Riccardo Retti and Lucca Colomba equipped the rooms of sumptuous paintings and stucco. The great master of the late Baroqu ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Ettlingen, Germany

Landskron Castle Ruins

Landskron castle itself was probably built in the early 13th century. Is first mentioned in 1244. This castle was destroyed in 1257 and 1275 by the rebellion Oppenheim citizens. It was rebuilt in 1281. The castle burned down in 1621 during the Thirty Years War. In the Nine Years War, French troops blew up the keep in 1689 to keep. In the following years the citizens used the ruins as a quarry.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oppenheim, Germany

Yburg Castle Ruins

Yburg Castle, built around 1200, takes its name from the outcrop that it occupies: its historical name Iberg probably derives from Eibenberg (yew-tree mountain). Of volcanic origin, the bluff towers over the Rhine valley. The castle, its keep a highly visible landmark, marked the southwestern corner of the territory of the margraves of Baden. In the Peasants’ War of 1525, rebels invaded the castle, causing consider ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Baden-Baden, Germany

Hochburg Castle Ruins

Hochburg castle was founded probably by Dietrich von Hachberg in the 11th century - although the first written mention dates from 1127. Between 1553-1577 the fortifications were completely remodeled and seven bastions were added in the early 1600s. Hochburg was however destroyed by catholic forces in the Thirty Years' War in 1634-1636. The reconstruction and modernization took place in 1660-1678, but it was again destroye ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Hochburg, Germany

Entenstein Castle

Entenstein Castle is a medieval castle surrounded by a moat situated in the center of the town of Schliengen. The origins of the castle can not be clearly dated. The first use of a building at this location can be traced to Walter of Schliengen in 821. By 1000 a tower house might have been in use. In the 13th century, Rudolf von Üsenberg (1207-1231) was the owner of the castle. The name of the castle derives from the ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Schliengen, Germany

Windeck Castle Ruins

Windeck 'old' Castle was built around 1200 by the lords of Windeck. The family, probably of Franconian origin and based in the Ortenau, owned wealthy allodial estates and held numerous fiefs from various liege lords, such as the empire, the Prince-Bishopric of Straßburg, the counts of Eberstein as well as the Vogtei of Schwarzach Abbey as an Afterlehen of the burgraves of Nuremberg. The first documentary evidence da ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Bühl, Germany

Burkheim Castle Ruins

Burkheim Castle was first mentioned in 1231. After destruction and reconstruction the castle was finally destroyed during the Franco-Dutch War in 1672-1676.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Burkheim, Germany

Alt Eberstein Castle Ruins

Alt-Eberstein castle was originally built in 1100 as the primary residence of the Counts of Eberstein, but by the end of the 16th century had been abandoned and much of the castle was torn down to provide materials for other structures. Presently it is a German national monument and a State Palace of Baden-Wuerttemberg. A spur castle situated on a once-strategic mountain peak, the fortress was constructed as the seat of ...
Founded: 1100 | Location: Ebersteinburg, Germany

Istein Castle Ruins

Istein castle was a rock castle built by the bishops of Basel in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was first time mentioned in 1185. The castle was stormed in 1410-1411 by the Basler troops. The modern fortress was built in 1900-1914 and destroyed after 1945. St. Vitus Chapel, partially ruined, is one of two original castle chapels built in the 12th centurya. The current small chapel, which was built after the destruction ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Efringen-Kirchen, Germany

Sponeck Castle

The Sponeck castle was built in the late 13th century to the site of late Roman fort (built by Emperor Valentinian I around 365 AD). The castle was destroyed in the Thirty Years War. After several changes of ownership the painter Hans Adolf Buhler acquired it in 1917, rebuilt and set up a studio in the former residential tower. After the painter"s death in 1951 the castle was owned by the family. Today the stone wall ...
Founded: 365/13th century | Location: Jechtingen, Germany

Lichteneck Castle Ruins

First mention of the Lichteneck castle dates from 1282 as a property of the Counts of Freiburg. The castle was destroyed on 15 April 1675 by General Vaubrun. Since then, the castle has been ruined.
Founded: 1282 | Location: Hecklingen, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.