Gdov was established as an outpost of the Pskov Republic. It occupied a strategically important position, being close to Lake Peipus, separating Livonia and Rus. Located on an important road to Pskov, Gdov protected it from the north. Its first mention in the chronicles dates back to 1323. Initially, the fortress was a mixture of wooden and earthen fortifications. However, the level of protection was deemed insufficient against the rising threat of the German incursion. Construction of a stone Kremlin, initially with wooden elements, commenced in 1431. The walls were constructed of alternating layers of boulders and Devonian sandstone, reaching 4 m in thickness and 8 m in height. The Kremlin had become fully stone-built by the middle of the 15th century.
The Kremlin had been attacked on numerous occasions by German, Polish, and Swedish forces. In March 1480, Gdov was attacked by forces of the Livonian Order that burned the posad and laid siege to the Kremlin, attempting to infiltrate it in a few places at the same time. Vastly outnumbered, the Gdov forces had to use every means of defence available to them, from artillery to burning tar and boiling water, successfully preventing the Order from reaching its goal.
The Ingrian War began in 1610, marking the onset of a Swedish invasion. By 1613, the Kremlin was besieged again. The Swedish forces managed to capture it, only to lose control of it later that year. In 1614, another attempt was made, with Gustavus II Adolphus, the King of Sweden personally commanding the operation. The Kremlin fell again remaining under Swedish control until 1621 when a peace treaty was signed under which Gdov was returned to Russia.
During the 17th century, the Kremlin was continuously damaged by siege. It sustained major damage to its stonework; signs of explosions have been identified. In 1657, during the course of another Russo–Swedish War, it withstood a siege laid by eight thousand soldiers led by Magnus Gabriel De la Gardie. In 1686, the Kremlin was severely damaged by fire. By the end of the century, is started to lose its strategic importance.
In 1706, Gdov was visited by Tsar Peter the Great. He ordered the walls strengthened by covering them with earth. Currently, the stone towers are also covered by earth, and have been ever since the construction of the town's park took place in the 19th century. Later in the 18th century, when the kremlin had totally fallen into disuse, parts of the walls were taken apart. In 1781, the demolition of the kremlin was temporarily halted by order of Catherine the Great.
In February 1944, the Kremlin was razed almost entirely by the retreating forces of Nazi Germans. All the structures within the Kremlin walls, including a cathedral with a 52 m tall bell tower, churches, and hundreds of merchants' houses were destroyed by explosives; only the walls remained.References:
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.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
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.