Medieval castles in North Rhine-Westphalia

Brüggen Castle

Brüggen Castle was the most important castle in the north of the Duchy of Jülich. The castle was built by the Count of Kessel in the 13th century to guard a ford over the River Schwalm. In the early 14th century it went into the possession of the dukes of Jülich, who had the existing building replaced by a quadrangular castle made from brick. After the occupation of Brüggen in 1794 by Napoleonic troops i ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Brüggen, Germany

Blankenstein Castle

Blankenstein Castle was built originally in 1227-1243 by Adolf I, Count of Mark. It was further developed over the course of 200 years by the Counts of the Mark. By 1425, Blankenstein was one of the most important castles in the county. In 1614, shortly before the Thirty Years" War, it was occupied by Spanish troops. From 1637, the castle fell into disrepair so that, in September 1662, Frederick William, Elector o ...
Founded: 1227-1243 | Location: Hattingen, 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

Gudenau Castle

The imposing two-part moated Burg Gudenau is the largest castle in the municipality of Wachtberg. Its grounds are a special feature, as they are the only Baroque garden under private ownership in the Rhineland. The castle stands in a flood plain at the foot of Villip, at the confluence of the Godesberg and Arzdorf streams. Built in the early 13th century, the main castle with four wings was extended in about 1560 with ex ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Wachtberg, Germany

Hardenstein Castle

Hardenstein Castle remains lie near the Ruhr River, surrounded by mountains, and are not easily accessible. Nearby ruins show that the castle was once part of an important mining centre, probably dating to the Middle Ages; the earliest records, from the 16th century, support this. The castle is featured in the legend of the Nibelungs. The castle's association with mining led to a legend that King Goldemar, a dwarf or ...
Founded: 1354 | Location: Herbede, Germany

Adendorf Castle

Adendorf castle is the successor of a high-medieval castle located to the west of today"s site. The small castle hill is few hundred meters from the current palace and was in the 14th century owned by the family of Hüchelhoven. Arnold von Adendorp built a new castle from 1337 at its present location. It was besieged and conquered by the army of Henry III, Landgrave of Upper Hesse, in the late 15th century. ...
Founded: 1337/1659 | Location: Wachtberg, Germany

Berleburg Castle

Berleburg castle is one of the few noble residences in Germany, which has been inhabited by the same family for the last 750 years. The castle was built in the 13th century. The two-storey north wing was expanded in 1555-1557 and the gatehouse dates from 1585. During the reign of Count Casimir, the three-storey central wing was built from 1731 to 1733. the Corps de Logis (the principal block of palace) was built in 17 ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bad Berleburg, Germany

Bodelschwingh Castle

Bodelschwingh magnificent castle dates from the 13th century. The current Renaissance style water castle was built in the 16th and 17th centuries. It became to the possession family Innhausen and Knyphausen at the end of the 19th century, whose property the castle is still today.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dortmund, Germany

Homburg Castle

Homburg was first mentioned in documents in 1276. Gottfried I of Sayn from the House of Sponheim (1247-1283/84) transferred his castrum Homburg to the German King Rudolf of Habsburg, in order to place it under his protection. He received the castle back as an inheritance. The castle was the residence of the Counts of Homburg, an imperial fiefdom (Reichsherrschaft). From 1635 Count Ernst von Sayn-Wittgenstein alte ...
Founded: 11th century/1635 | Location: Nümbrecht, Germany

Hückeswagen Castle

Hückeswagen Castle was first mentioned in 1189. In 1260 the county Hückeswagen was disposed to the counts Berg, and the Hückeswagener counts moved to Moravia. In the future the castle of the countess Margarete von Hochstaden served as a widow"s seat. To constant Verpfändungen of Hückeswagen during the following centuries the name changed in 1397 into castle. During the following centuries the castle was mostly ...
Founded: c. 1189 | Location: Hückeswagen, Germany

Bladenhorst Castle

Bladenhorst castle was first mentioed in 1266 as the residence of the lords of Blarnhurst lived there. At the beginning of the 14th century it became the possession of the family of Düngelen. In 1338, Rötger Düngelen made the castle available to the Duchy of Cleves to use in the event of war. Through marriage, in 1496 the castle passed to Philip of Viermünden. From 1624 to 1881 it was inherited by the Westphalian ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Castrop-Rauxel, Germany

Gimborn Castle

Gimborn Castle is a former water castle located in the upper Leppe valley. It was pledged in 1273 from the county of Berg to the county of Mark, and became the Residenz in the county of Gimborn Neustadt of the House of Schwarzenberg in 1631. Since 1874 the castle has belonged to the Barons von Fürstenberg zu Gimborn. Since 1969 the Castle has served as a conference site and meeting place for the International ...
Founded: 1273 | Location: Marienheide, Germany

Klusenstein Castle

Klusenstein castle was built in 1353 by Gerhard of Plettenberg, a vassal of earl Engelbrecht III of the Mark. The castle formed the boundary fortification of the earldom Mark to the bishopric state of Cologne and the earldom Arnsberg. All three territories met at the Hönne river valley, the castle was also overlooking an old road crossing the valley. During the feud between earl Engelbert and Gottfried IV of Arnsberg, ...
Founded: 1353 | Location: Hemer, Germany

Bilstein Castle

Bilstein castle is located on a spur which falls away steeply on three sides so that the castle's defences only needed to be oriented towards the hill to the northeast. The appearance of the castle is thus dominated by its two round towers, each with a diameter of about eight metres: the Chapel Tower in the northwest and the Hohnekamp Tower in the southeast. The towers are connected by a tunnel under the castle courtyard ...
Founded: 1202-1225 | Location: Lennestadt, Germany

Odenhausen Castle

Odenhausen Castle was first built in the 11th century on the hill. In the Middle Ages, the fortification was expanded into a moated water castle. The castle was first mentioned in 1316. In 1560 Ludwig von Blankart converted it into a Renaissance residence. A bridge leads across the outer moat through a Baroque gate into the farmhouse and an another bridge leads over the moat to the two-winged mansion. The porta ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Wachtberg, Germany

Heimerzheim Castle

Heimerzheim castle was mentioned for the first time at the end of the 13th century, when it was built by the lords of Heimerzheim as a well-fortified moated castle. In the Baroque era the castle was converted into a residence. Today the moated castle is rented out by the family of the Baron von Boeselager as a conference and event location. The site consists of a main castle and lower castle, with both parts of the castl ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Heimerzheim, Germany

Morenhoven Castle

Morenhoven Castle consists of outer ward and main castle. The moated castle can be reached over an arched bridge and probably originates from a fortified courtyard of the 9th century. In the 12th and 13th century the forerunners of the current castle belonged to the country manor on the  Swist. During the Thirty Years' War the castle was destroyed by Hessian soldiers. From 1682 onwards the new building was built. Thi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Morenhoven, Germany

Holzheim Castle

Holzheim Castle dates to 1333, and its owners were vassals of the Duchy of Jülich. In the 15th to 17th centuries the manor house and gate tower were built, both of which have survived. In 1818, when the region was part of the Prussia county of Düren, the castle and its estates were sold to private buyers. In 1893 it was bought by Richard Schleicher, who also bought the nearby estate of Schönthal. The property ...
Founded: 1333 | Location: Heistern, Germany

Neuenhof Castle

Neuenhof castle was first mentioned in 1326. The current water castle was rebuilt in 1643 and restored after fire in 1693. The main building is a rectangular two-storey house whose courtyard side is flanked by two towers.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Lüdenscheid, 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

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany's largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul is mentioned on the fortified Coberg. This document also refers to a Vogt named Gerhart, implying that the local possessions of the Saalfeld Benedictines were administered from the hill.

A document signed by Pope Honorius II in 1206 refers to a mons coburg, a hill settlement. In the 13th century, the hill overlooked the town of Trufalistat (Coburg's predecessor) and the important trade route from Nuremberg via Erfurt to Leipzig. A document dated from 1225 uses the term schloss (palace) for the first time. At the time, the town was controlled by the Dukes of Merania. They were followed in 1248 by the Counts of Henneberg who ruled Coburg until 1353, save for a period from 1292-1312, when the House of Ascania was in charge.

In 1353, Coburg fell to Friedrich, Markgraf von Meißen of the House of Wettin. His successor, Friedrich der Streitbare was awarded the status of Elector of Saxony in 1423. As a result of the Hussite Wars the fortifications of the Veste were expanded in 1430.

Early modern times through Thirty Years' War

In 1485, in the Partition of Leipzig, Veste Coburg fell to the Ernestine branch of the family. A year later, Elector Friedrich der Weise and Johann der Beständige took over the rule of Coburg. Johann used the Veste as a residence from 1499. In 1506/07, Lucas Cranach the Elder lived and worked in the Veste. From April to October 1530, during the Diet of Augsburg, Martin Luther sought protection at the Veste, as he was under an Imperial ban at the time. Whilst he stayed at the fortress, Luther continued with his work translating the Bible into German. In 1547, Johann Ernst moved the residence of the ducal family to a more convenient and fashionable location, Ehrenburg Palace in the town centre of Coburg. The Veste now only served as a fortification.

In the further splitting of the Ernestine line, Coburg became the seat of the Herzogtum von Sachsen-Coburg, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg. The first duke was Johann Casimir (1564-1633), who modernized the fortifications. In 1632, the fortress was unsuccessfully besieged by Imperial and Bavarian forces commanded by Albrecht von Wallenstein for seven days during the Thirty Years' War. Its defence was commanded by Georg Christoph von Taupadel. On 17 March 1635, after a renewed siege of five months' duration, the Veste was handed over to the Imperials under Guillaume de Lamboy.

17th through 19th centuries

From 1638-72, Coburg and the Veste were part of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. In 1672, they passed to the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha and in 1735 it was joined to the Duchy of Saxe-Saalfeld. Following the introduction of Primogeniture by Duke Franz Josias (1697-1764), Coburg went by way of Ernst Friedrich (1724-1800) to Franz (1750-1806), noted art collector, and to Duke Ernst III (1784-1844), who remodeled the castle.

In 1826, the Duchy of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha was created and Ernst now styled himself 'Ernst I'. Military use of the Veste had ceased by 1700 and outer fortifications had been demolished in 1803-38. From 1838-60, Ernst had the run-down fortress converted into a Gothic revival residence. In 1860, use of the Zeughaus as a prison (since 1782) was discontinued. Through a successful policy of political marriages, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha established links with several of the major European dynasties, including that of the United Kingdom.

20th century

The dynasty ended with the reign of Herzog Carl Eduard (1884-1954), also known as Charles Edward, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a grandson of Queen Victoria, who until 1919 also was the 2nd Duke of Albany in the United Kingdom. Under his rule, many changes made to the Veste in the 19th century were reversed under architect Bodo Ebhardt, with the aim of restoring a more authentic medieval look. Along with the other ruling princes of Germany, Carl Eduard was deposed in the revolution of 1918-1919. After Carl Eduard abdicated in late 1918, the Veste came into possession of the state of Bavaria, but the former duke was allowed to live there until his death. The works of art collected by the family were gifted to the Coburger Landesstiftung, a foundation, which today runs the museum.

In 1945, the Veste was seriously damaged by artillery fire in the final days of World War II. After 1946, renovation works were undertaken by the new owner, the Bayerische Verwaltung der staatlichen Schlösser, Gärten und Seen.

Today

The Veste is open to the public and today houses museums, including a collection art objects and paintings that belonged to the ducal family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, a large collection of arms and armor, significant examples of early modern coaches and sleighs, and important collections of prints, drawings and coins.