Medieval castles in North Rhine-Westphalia

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

Kühlseggen Castle

Kühlseggen Castle is a remarkable exception to the rule: after a century of standing unoccupied and neglected, it was renovated and became the residence of its owner. Today the complex of buildings is based on the castle and moat of the middle ages. The remains of the gothic manor house can be recognized in the contemporary residential house. The working yard outside was not constructed until the 19th century, after the ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Weilerswist, 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

Kommern Castle

The oldest part of the Kommern Castle is the residential tower on the slope of the valley. It probably dates back to the 13th century. From the 13th century Kommern Castle was the property of the Arenberg family, who were elevated to dukes in the 17th century. The castle was never used as country seat, but was merely an administration building, as the Arenbergs" wealth was founded on mining. During the 18th century t ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Mechernich, Germany

Zievel Castle

When one sees Zievel Castle today, it is exactly as one would imagine a medieval knight's castle to look like. Unlike other local castles, the village of Zievel is not connected to the castle which protected it. The staff who served the noble families usually lived nearby, but here the castle stands in the middle of the landscape. Zievel Castle is not only much older than other local stately homes and was not only a fief ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Mechernich, 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

Niederkastenholz Castle

Niederkastenholz castle is surrounded by a moat, with an angular main castle and a separate horse-shoe shaped fore-castle with working quarters. It used to belong to Kornelimünster Abbey. The rough stone buildings of the castle are complemented by the wrought-iron gate. The fortified tower dates back to the 12th century and is the oldest part of the castle. The so-called Probstei was added onto the medieval main castle ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Euskirchen, 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

Kirspenich Castle

The village of Kirspenich has a Celtic-Roman origin, as can be seen from its name, but it first appeared in records in 893 AD in the property register of Prüm Abbey. The castle"s square residence tower, made of rough stone, dates back to Gerlach von Dollendorf, who owned Kirspenich in 1278. In the 14th century the castle tower, which is mentioned in official records in 1301, was raised by two storeys. Despite furth ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bad Münstereifel, 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

Nörvenich Castle

The Schloss Nörvenich was established in around 1400 by Wilhelm von Vlatten and was remodeled on numerous occasions over the centuries. In the 15th century, the property fell through marriage to Konrad Scheiffart von Merode-Bornheim. Wilhelm Scheiffart von Merode and his wife Agnes von Bylandt enlarged the house in the middle of the 16th century to the West Wing. At the end of the 16th century, the castle fell thro ...
Founded: 1400 | Location: Nörvenich, Germany

Ringsheim Castle

Ringsheim castle is a very extensive castle which, unusually, stands alone in open fields. Situated between the boundary forest of Flamersheim and the crown road, it was fiercely fought over due to its strategic position. The village originally belonging to the castle was destroyed in the 17th century. Today Ringsheim is an extensive castle with a manor house, an inner fore-castle with working quarters and the area of the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Euskirchen, Germany

Dreiborn Castle

Dreiborn castle, built around 1300, is situated outside the village of the same name. At approx. 540 metres above sea-level, it is the highest castle in the Rhineland. Originally it was protected by a double moat. A part of the surrounding wall, the round corner tower, the work-yard and manor house date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
Founded: c.1300 | Location: Schleiden, Germany

Kleinbüllesheim Castle

The original foundations of the Kleinbüllesheim Castle date back to circa 900 AD and were discovered in 1942 south of the present castle, during excavation work in the Second World War. The present castle was built with a protective moat. The two-storey brick building with rounded corners and attic-roof appears to visitors as a massive edifice. This impression is reinforced by the huge entrance gate, dating back to the 1 ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Euskirchen, Germany

Kleeburg Castle

Kleeburg castle in Weidesheim is a jewel among the Erft castles, with its red-and-yellow window-shutters. This two-part castle, surrounded by a moat, has a large fortified fore-castle and massive brick towers. It was built probably in the 14th century and documented first time in 1393. Visitors are only able to see the fore-castle. One can only gain entrance over a little drawbridge. Today the main castle is small but un ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Euskirchen, Germany

Schleiden Castle

Of the rectangular buildings with free-standing keep, built in the 12th century, only the remains of the east and south wings of what used to be an important castle are preserved. The alterations carried out in the 18th century, following diverse war damage, resulted in the palatial building as it can be seen today. During the Second World War the castle was seriously damaged, but was reconstructed in 1952. This construct ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Schleiden, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Broch of Gurness

The Broch of Gurness is an Iron Age broch village. Settlement here began sometime between 500 and 200 BC. At the centre of the settlement is a stone tower or broch, which once probably reached a height of around 10 metres. Its interior is divided into sections by upright slabs. The tower features two skins of drystone walls, with stone-floored galleries in between. These are accessed by steps. Stone ledges suggest that there was once an upper storey with a timber floor. The roof would have been thatched, surrounded by a wall walk linked by stairs to the ground floor. The broch features two hearths and a subterranean stone cistern with steps leading down into it. It is thought to have some religious significance, relating to an Iron Age cult of the underground.

The remains of the central tower are up to 3.6 metres high, and the stone walls are up to 4.1 metres thick. The tower was likely inhabited by the principal family or clan of the area but also served as a last resort for the village in case of an attack.

The broch continued to be inhabited while it began to collapse and the original structures were altered. The cistern was filled in and the interior was repartitioned. The ruin visible today reflects this secondary phase of the broch's use.

The site is surrounded by three ditches cut out of the rock with stone ramparts, encircling an area of around 45 metres diameter. The remains of numerous small stone dwellings with small yards and sheds can be found between the inner ditch and the tower. These were built after the tower, but were a part of the settlement's initial conception. A 'main street' connects the outer entrance to the broch. The settlement is the best-preserved of all broch villages.

Pieces of a Roman amphora dating to before 60 AD were found here, lending weight to the record that a 'King of Orkney' submitted to Emperor Claudius at Colchester in 43 AD.

At some point after 100 AD the broch was abandoned and the ditches filled in. It is thought that settlement at the broch continued into the 5th century AD, the period known as Pictish times. By that time the broch was not used anymore and some of its stones were reused to build smaller dwellings on top of the earlier buildings. Until about the 8th century, the site was just a single farmstead.

In the 9th century, a Norse woman was buried at the site in a stone-lined grave with two bronze brooches and a sickle and knife made from iron. Other finds suggest that Norse men were buried here too.