Wijenburg was an important castle in the Duchy of Guelders and the Lords of Echteld who lived in the castle enjoyed great prestige until there was a disagreement between the Duke of Guelders and Lord Otto van Wijhe in 1492. At the beginning of the 20th century, the castle was saved from demolition by Baron Van Verschuer and restored by Stichting Geldersche Kasteelen national heritage foundation.
The history of Wijenburg Castle dates back to the 12th century, when a fortified tower was built and the castle has been extended further and further over time. For centuries, the castle was occupied by the extensive and influential Van Wijhe family. By around 1400, the castle had grown into one of the most important political centres in the Duchy of Guelders. Duchess Catharina, the wife of Duke Willem van Gulik, was even godmother to one of the descendants of the Van Wijhe family.
In 1492,Otto van Wijhe had a disagreement with the newly-appointed Duke, Charles of Guelders, after he had sided with Charles’ arch-enemy, the House of Burgundy. Otto was taken prisoner and even tortured; his castle was set on fire, the moat was filled in and he was deprived of his most important noble rights. His grandson, Otto, managed to redeem the family’s name to some extent: he studied law and became Lord of Echteld in 1568. As if by a miracle, one of his diaries has been preserved along with two friendship books. These give us a fascinating insight into life in a 16th-century castle.
The castle remained in the Van Wijhe family (by marriage) for many years. In 1928, the two elderly ladies Anna and Wil van Balveren sold the castle to their nephew, B.F. Baron van Verschuer. In 1956, the Baron handed the castle over to Stichting Geldersche Kasteelennational heritage foundation, which carefully renovated the by-then dilapidated castle and restored it to its former glory. The castle is now known as one of the most popular wedding locations in Gelderland.References:
Glimmingehus is the best preserved medieval stronghold in Scandinavia. It was built 1499-1506, during an era when Scania formed a vital part of Denmark, and contains many defensive arrangements of the era, such as parapets, false doors and dead-end corridors, 'murder-holes' for pouring boiling pitch over the attackers, moats, drawbridges and various other forms of death traps to surprise trespassers and protect the nobles against peasant uprisings. The lower part of the castle's stone walls are 2.4 meters (94 inches) thick and the upper part 1.8 meters (71 inches).
Construction was started in 1499 by the Danish knight Jens Holgersen Ulfstand and stone-cutter-mason and architect Adam van Düren, a North German master who also worked on Lund Cathedral. Construction was completed in 1506.
Ulfstand was a councillor, nobleman and admiral serving under John I of Denmark and many objects have been uncovered during archeological excavations that demonstrate the extravagant lifestyle of the knight's family at Glimmingehus up until Ulfstand's death in 1523. Some of the most expensive objects for sale in Europe during this period, such as Venetian glass, painted glass from the Rhine district and Spanish ceramics have been found here. Evidence of the family's wealth can also be seen inside the stone fortress, where everyday comforts for the knight's family included hot air channels in the walls and bench seats in the window recesses. Although considered comfortable for its period, it has also been argued that Glimmingehus was an expression of "Knighthood nostalgia" and not considered opulent or progressive enough even to the knight's contemporaries and especially not to later generations of the Scanian nobility. Glimmingehus is thought to have served as a residential castle for only a few generations before being transformed into a storage facility for grain.
An order from Charles XI to the administrators of the Swedish dominion of Scania in 1676 to demolish the castle, in order to ensure that it would not fall into the hands of the Danish king during the Scanian War, could not be executed. A first attempt, in which 20 Scanian farmers were ordered to assist, proved unsuccessful. An additional force of 130 men were sent to Glimmingehus to execute the order in a second attempt. However, before they could carry out the order, a Danish-Dutch naval division arrived in Ystad, and the Swedes had to abandon the demolition attempts. Throughout the 18th century the castle was used as deposit for agricultural produce and in 1924 it was donated to the Swedish state. Today it is administered by the Swedish National Heritage Board.
On site there is a museum, medieval kitchen, shop and restaurant and coffee house. During summer time there are several guided tours daily. In local folklore, the castle is described as haunted by multiple ghosts and the tradition of storytelling inspired by the castle is continued in the summer events at the castle called "Strange stories and terrifying tales".