Kasteel Wittem, now a national listed monument, was probably built in the 11th century. The oldest records in which the castle is mentioned date from 1125. The next century the castle was owned by the knights of Julémont. They started to call themselves Lords of Wittem. A title that was assumed by later owners. During their ownership in 1286, Reinoud, Count of Gelre, tried in vain to take the castle by surprise. In the early 15th century the castle was considerably enlarged until it consisted of a powerful stronghold with 7 towers and two moats spanned by bridges. Every bridge was equipped with a gate building.
The following successive owners of the castle were the knights of the Van Scavendriesch family and the Van Cosselaer family. In 1466 the castle was sold to Diederik van Pallant. In 1520 Emperor Charles V elevated Wittem to a Barony, probably as a reward for his sojourn at the castle on his journey to Aix-la-Chapelle for his coronation.
At the beginning of the 80-Years War Wittem Castle was confiscated by the Spanish under the Duke of Alva. His troops were expelled, in 1568, by the mercenary troops of William the Silent, Prince of Orange. Next William left to Maastricht to also free that city from the Spanish. When he didn't succeed he returned to Wittem Castle only to find it again taken by Spanish troops. Yet again he drove them out. In 1569 the Spanish returned again after which they destroyed the castle.
The castle was restored and enlarged in 1611, with compensation money for the war damages, by the Van Pallant family. In 1639 ownership of the castle transferred to the Counts of Waldeck Pyrmont. In 1678 they again had to restore the damage done to the castle, this time by French troops garrisoned in Maastricht.
In 1714 Count Ferdinand von Plettenberg became the last noble owner of the castle. When he came to the castle it already was in a dilapidated state. In 1794, after the French Revolution, the ruinous castle was taken from the count and sold to Simon Merckenbach. His family restored the castle to its present state and made it habitable again. In 1958 the castle was sold and is since being used as a hotel-restaurant.
The present building forms just a small part of the medieval castle. It consists of a round corner tower with two wings. In the farm buildings belonging to the castle are also parts of remaining medieval walls.References:
Bamberg is located in Upper Franconia on the river Regnitz close to its confluence with the river Main. Its historic city center is a listed UNESCO world heritage site.
Bamberg is a good example of a central European town with a basically early medieval plan and many surviving ecclesiastical and secular buildings of the medieval period. When Henry II, Duke of Bavaria, became King of Germany in 1007 he made Bamberg the seat of a bishopric, intended to become a 'second Rome'. Of particular interest is the way in which the present town illustrates the link between agriculture (market gardens and vineyards) and the urban distribution centre.
From the 10th century onwards, Bamberg became an important link with the Slav peoples, especially those of Poland and Pomerania. During its period of greatest prosperity, from the 12th century onwards, the architecture of this town strongly influenced northern Germany and Hungary. In the late 18th century Bamberg was the centre of the Enlightenment in southern Germany, with eminent philosophers and writers such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and E.T.A. Hoffmann living there.
Bamberg extends over seven hills, each crowned by a beautiful church. This has led to Bamberg being called the 'Franconian Rome'.