Plattenburg Castle

Plattenburg, Germany

The Plattenburg was first documented in 1319, making it the oldest surviving water castle in northern Germany. Due to its picturesque location in a region of forests and lakeland, the castle was the summer residence of the bishops of Havelberg in the Middle Ages.

In 1548 Plattenburg became the seventh Prignitz district. After the death of the last bishop of Havelberg, Busso II, the Elector of Brandenburg, Joachim II, who had recently converted to the Lutheran Church, had his son Frederick IV elected as Bishop of Havelberg in 1551.

In 1552, the preacher Joachim Ellefeld burned the Wilsnack's holy blood hosts and was incarcerated at the Plattenburg. Elector Joachim II pledged the castle to his chamberlain, Matthias of Saldern. In 1560 he was given the castle and estate (including Wilsnack) as a heritable and personal enfeoffment.

Around 1600 an expansion of the upper castle was carried out in the Late Renaissance style under Burchard von Saldern. In 1631, during the Thirty Years' War, the King of Sweden Gustavus Adolphus issued a writ of protection (Schutzbrief) for the lords of Plattenburg. Some time later taught Burchard von Saldern built a new castle chapel in the bakehouse and brewery. In 1675, Swedish troops laid siege to the castle.

In 1724 the construction of timber-framed wing was carried out. The architect was Johann Jakob Müller from Brunswick. In 1883 the brick tower burned down at temperatures of minus 15°C, but was rebuilt even higher by Siegfried von Saldern.

Between 1925 and 1945 Sieghard von Saldern took over lordship of Plattenburg. In 1940 French prisoners of war were billeted in the chapel wing, part of the castle serving as a military hospital.

After the estate was expropriated by the state from the von Salderns in 1945, refugee families lived in the castle until 1960. In 1969, the keep was converted into a holiday home for the East German Deutsche Reichsbahn, and it was used as such until 1991. That same year, an association was founded to promote and preserve the Plattenburg and restoration began which has continued to the present (2008). In 1995, a memorial stone was erected in front of the varlets' house by the Federation of Expellees to the victims of forced displacement after the Second World War.

Today the Plattenburg is home to museum rooms, the wedding room of the municipality of Plattenburg and has overnight accommodation for around 30 people. The Plattenburg is the last station on the Pilgrim Way from Berlin to Wilsnack to the Church of the Holy Sacrament in Bad Wilsnack.



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Founded: c. 1319
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Habsburg Dynasty (Germany)

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The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.

In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.

The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.

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In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.