Klopp Castle is the landmark of Bingen. It stands on a hill above the town with a wide-ranging view, which may have been the site of a Roman fortification built by Drusus at Bingium around 10 CE. The hill is one of three locations where local legend says that Emperor Henry IV was imprisoned by his son in 1105 or 1106, this being the first surviving mention of a castle there.
The last medieval castle on the site was built in the 13th century: possibly around 1281, possibly between 1240, when Kloppberg (Klopp Hill) is mentioned as the residence of a churchman, and 1277, the first mention of Burg Clopp. Together with Ehrenfels Castle on the opposite side of the Rhine and later the Mouse Tower, it enabled the Archbishopric of Mainz to exact tolls on river trade. In 1438 the archbishop sold the town and the castle to the cathedral chapter and the townspeople effectively controlled it. The castle was already decaying in the 16th century and was destroyed in the Thirty Years' War, but was rebuilt in 1653. The French destroyed it again in 1689 in the War of the Palatine Succession, and in the final phase of the War of the Spanish Succession in 1713, the Mainz forces themselves blew up what was left to prevent its use by the enemy. Early 19th-century paintings show ruined walls, one connecting the castle to the town, but the castle itself levelled.
The state of Hesse acquired the ruin in 1815 and sold it to Hermann Faber, a lawyer. It was later owned by a Berliner called Rosenthal, who renovated the well. Both charged tourists to climb the gate tower as a viewing platform; Faber built a stairway up the outside of the walls and a viewing room at the top which he furnished with books of poetry, a comfortable sofa and a fully equipped writing desk, and laid out the grounds as a garden with romantic paths through the grapevines, trees and flowers. He also installed an aeolian harp. The castle was one of the major sights of the Romantic Rhine. J.M.W. Turner sketched a view of it from the River Nahe in 1844. By the end of the 19th century, some 75,000 entries had been made in the visitors' book.
In 1853 the gatehouse, the bridge across the moat and the fortifications were rebuilt for Ludwig Maria Cron. The bergfried was rebuilt as a crenellated tower 26 metres high, with four corner turrets. In 1875–79, a new Gothic building was built on the site. The architect for both was the mayor, Eberhard Soherr. The base of the bergfried, the moat and parts of the southern curtain wall and its chemin de ronde are the only remnants of the medieval castle.
The rebuilt bergfried formerly housed the town's local history museum, which moved in 1998 to a former power station on the waterfront. The larger Gothic building has been the seat of government and mayoral residence since 1897. There is also a gourmet restaurant.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.