Medieval castles in North Rhine-Westphalia

Langendorf Castle

Once two-part Langendorf Castle was built in the 12th and 13th centuries as main and fore-castle surrounded by a moat. The round corner-tower of the late-gothic manor house dates back to the 15th century, as does the oldest part of the manor house. The more recent part of the manor house includes the chapel bay window and the courtrooms. The fore-castle with three wings was renovated in the 16th century, of which only the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Zülpich, Germany

Münchhausen Castle

Münchhausen Castle was mentioned already in 893 AD when it was owned by the Abbey of Prüm in Lorraine. Later the castle was used as a customs office. The 12th and 13th century walls, tower and some buildings have survived. Today the castle is a horse farm with restaurant.
Founded: 9th century | Location: Wachtberg, Germany

Hambach Castle

Hambach Castle was originally built in 1280 by Walram von Jülich, but it was burned down due gunpowder explosion in 1512. It was restored as a Renaissance style hunting palace in 1558-1565. The castle was confiscated by French army in 1794 and they torn down the northern tower. The castle was also damaged during the Second World War. Today it is in residential use.
Founded: 1280 | Location: Niederzier, Germany

Kleinvernich & Großvernich Castles

The two castles of Kleinvernich and Großvernich have guarded the eastern and western banks of the river Erft since 1350. The two-part Grossvernich Castle, known as a 'castrum' with a moat, was built after 1300 near the surrounding wall, which today is hardly discernible. Kleinvernich Castle is still entirely surrounded by a moat today. However, the estate is used exclusively for agriculture. The only memorial ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Weilerswist, Germany

Juntersdorf Castle

In the 14th / 15th centuries the formerly two-part gothic Juntersdorf Castle was built on an incline and protected by a moat. The fore-castle was connected to the manor house, after it had been reconstructed following a fire in the 19th century, so that the buildings almost form a closed complex. Parts of the manor house date back to the 17th century.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Zülpich, Germany

Lüftelberg Castle

Burg Lüftelberg is first mentioned in old documents in 1260. In the 15th century it was extended into a castle with four round towers and surrounded by a moat.  The castle obtained its current appearance as of 1730. The court architect Johann Heinrich Roth constructed a Baroque building with high double pitched roofs and a beautiful portal, but used the available walls and integrated three of the four older round tower ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Meckenheim-Lüftelberg, Germany

Großbüllesheim Castle

Großbüllesheim Castle was first mentioned in records in 1402, in the fiefdom of the Duke of Jülich, enfeoffed to Reymer Spies von Büllesheim, whose descendants still flourish today as the Barons Spies von Büllesheim. Büllesheim castle was originally built in two parts next to a weir, as a knight's country seat. Of this only the gate-tower of the residential house remains, built onto the fore-castle. The fore-castle ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Euskirchen, Germany

Kessenich Castle

The two-part Kessenich Castle on the Erft river, which fed its moat, was first mentioned in records of the early 14th century. In 1339 the castle was registered in the fiefdom of the Margrave of Jülich. In the centuries up to 1828 the castle only belonged to the Jülich aristocracy for a short time. The Lords of Binsfeld owned and lived in the castle until 1604, when ownership was transferred via marriage to the aristocr ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Euskirchen, Germany

Bodenheim Castle

The castle at Bodenheim is the only preserved family seat of the former Brabant landowners of Lommersum, which was still a fiefdom in the late 18th century. On the estate there is clear evidence of the original medieval two-part castle with a moat. The picturesque manor house, with its many corners and angles, stands on an artificial mound and the moat has been dry for decades. The oldest preserved part is the west wing, ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Weilerswist, Germany

Lauvenburg Castle

Lauvenburg castle is a typical medieval castle, surrounded by water and in very good condition. The castle is situated on the outskirts of the village and appears very romantic with its old stock of trees. The moats of the two-part castle are still fed via the medieval mill-race, which was diverted from the Rotbach stream. The fore-castle was reconstructed in new-gothic style after a fire in 1868. Behind a yard with a wa ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Zülpich, 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.