Medieval castles in North Rhine-Westphalia

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

Strünkede Castle

The moated Strünkede Castle with thick walls was the seat of the Barons of Strünkede for seven centuries. The castle was built before 1243. In the mid-17th century it was rebuilt in the early Baroque style. First it housed a restaurant, later the police, and a hospital during the war. In 1948 the city bought the castle, restored it and opened a branch of the Emschertal Museum (Emschertalmuseum) in it with an exhibition ...
Founded: before 1243 | Location: Herne, Germany

Zelem Castle

Zelem Castle was a knight"s moated fortress located in the lowland areas left of the Rhine River between the villages Mehr and Niel. Zelem was mentioned for the first time in the 12th century as a property of Echternach Abbey. In the first half of the 14th century, Zelem belonged to the Counts of Kranenburg but was sold in 1348 to the lords of Groesbeek. In the 15th century, the Palant-Wylich family became the owne ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kranenburg, Germany

Burgsteinfurt Castle

The moated castle of Burgsteinfurt is a ring-shaped castle complex that was first mentioned in 1129. The landscape had no natural protection to offer. The oldest moated castle complex in Westphalia therefore stands on a circular island surrounded by the Steinfurter Aa river. The first market settlement, which later became Steinfurt, developed in the shadow of the castle. In 1164, the lords of Ascheberg destroyed the ca ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Steinfurt, Germany

Gemen Castle

The beautiful water castle of Gemen near Borken was founded probably in the 9th or 10th century. The first document dates from 1274. The current appearance is a result of five essential reconstruction phases. Since 1946, the castle has been used as a youth camp under the guidance of the diocese of Münster.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Borken, Germany

Blankenheim Castle

Blankenheim Castle was built around 1115 by Gerhard I and became the family seat of the House of Blankenheim. The lords of Blankenheim were elevated to the countship in 1380. The site has been remodelled on numerous occasions. In the course of time the medieval defensive site was converted into a Baroque schloss with a Baroque garden and an orangery. Its end came in September 1794, when French troops marched ...
Founded: c. 1115 | Location: Blankenheim, Germany

Erkelenz Castle

Soon after the Erkelenz  was elevated to a town status in the 12th century, work began on the brick fortifications of the place. These probably consisted of basic ramparts as had been common since time immemorial for the defence of settlements. Although the castle was not documented until 1349, the town appeared to have developed under the protection of the castle. The castle has 23 high keep, curtain walls and corner t ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Erkelenz, Germany

Reifferscheid Castle

The ruins of Reifferscheid Castle stand at a height of 450 metres near the German-Belgian border between the mountains of the Eifel and the Ardennes in the municipality of Hellenthal. All that has survived of the medieval hill castle are the remains of the curtain walls, a gatehouse with two flanking round towers, a gabled entrance and a round, white-plastered bergfried made of rubble stone. Reifferscheid is ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hellenthal, Germany

Windeck Castle Ruins

Burg Windeck was once an extended castle site, whose dimensions can still be guessed from the current ruins. The previous imposing castle was first mentioned in 1174 as Neu-Windeck. The site was a border fortification of the Count von Berg against the Counts von Sayn (Homberg) and the von Blankenbergs. It was extended a great deal after 1435. Burg Windeck was destroyed during the 30 Years War and in 1672 by the French and ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Altwindeck, Germany

Hugenpoet Castle

Hugenpoet estate was first time mentioned in 778 AD as a royal property of Charlemagne. The medieval feudal castle was burned down in 1478 during the feud. The new castle was built near in 1647 after it was again badly damaged in the Thirty Years' War.  Today it has been restored as a hotel.
Founded: 1647 | Location: Essen, Germany

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

Merode Castle

Merode estate was first time mentioned in 1170 and it was originally built by ministrial Werner from Kerpen. The first mention of castle dates from 1263. The current appearance was created mainly by Marshal Jean Philippe Eugène de Merode-Westerloo in the early 18th century. It was partially destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt. The another big fire in 2000 destroyed 80% of interior and the restoration is sti ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Langerwehe, Germany

Bedburg Castle

Bedburg Castle was mentioned in the 12th century, but it was destroyed by the army of Cologne archbishop in 1278. Johann von Reifferscheid rebuilt the Gothic moated castle and it is one of the oldest brick castles in Rhineland. Bedburg was once again damaged badly in 1584 and restored into a Renaissance style.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bedburg, 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

Burgau Castle

Burgau Castle is a water castle in Düren, located in the town forest at the edge of the district Niederau. The earliest findings can be traced back to the year 1100. The building was constructed on a motte. Even today the manor house is situated on an island with a diameter of 50 meters. The keep also dates back to the Middle Ages; after that the southern, eastern and northern wings of the main castle were constructe ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Düren, 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

Kronenburg Castle

The ruins of the Kronenburg and the almost completely preserved Burgbering from the 13th century still leave their mark on the village today. In the 18th and 19th century the castle fell into disrepair. Of the main building only two semi-circular towers of the north gate and the ruins of the keep can be seen. The dimensions of the original grounds are recognizable from the the remains of the surrounding wall and of a semi ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dahlem, 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

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Château de Foix

The Château de Foix dominates the town of Foix. An important tourist site, it is known as a centre of the Cathars. Built on an older 7th-century fortification, the castle is known from 987. In 1002, it was mentioned in the will of Roger I, Count of Carcassonne, who bequeathed the fortress to his youngest child, Bernard. In effect, the family ruling over the region were installed here which allowed them to control access to the upper Ariège valley and to keep surveillance from this strategic point over the lower land, protected behind impregnable walls.

In 1034, the castle became capital of the County of Foix and played a decisive role in medieval military history. During the two following centuries, the castle was home to Counts with shining personalities who became the soul of the Occitan resistance during the crusade against the Albigensians. The county became a privileged refuge for persecuted Cathars.

The castle, often besieged (notably by Simon de Montfort in 1211 and 1212), resisted assault and was only taken once, in 1486, thanks to treachery during the war between two branches of the Foix family.

From the 14th century, the Counts of Foix spent less and less time in the uncomfortable castle, preferring the Governors' Palace. From 1479, the Counts of Foix became Kings of Navarre and the last of them, made Henri IV of France, annexed his Pyrrenean lands to France.

As seat of the Governor of the Foix region from the 15th century, the castle continued to ensure the defence of the area, notably during the Wars of Religion. Alone of all the castles in the region, it was exempted from the destruction orders of Richelieu (1632-1638).

Until the Revolution, the fortress remained a garrison. Its life was brightened with grand receptions for its governors, including the Count of Tréville, captain of musketeers under Louis XIII and Marshal Philippe Henri de Ségur, one of Louis XVI's ministers. The Round Tower, built in the 15th century, is the most recent, the two square towers having been built before the 11th century. They served as a political and civil prison for four centuries until 1862.

Since 1930, the castle has housed the collections of the Ariège départemental museum. Sections on prehistory, Gallo-Roman and mediaeval archaeology tell the history of Ariège from ancient times. Currently, the museum is rearranging exhibits to concentrate on the history of the castle site so as to recreate the life of Foix at the time of the Counts.