Ērģeme castle served as a powerful fortress for the protection of the Livonian Holy Order eastern border and as a castle-front for the Cēsis castle of the Livonian Holy Order master. The castle was mentioned in 1422 but it was built already around year 1320 under the ordinance of the Order master Gerhard von Jocke. Masters used castle as a storehouse, point of support and shelter for the night. Planning of the castle is clearly legible. Nowadays still quite impressive castle ruins with the round corner tower in the height of two stories can be viewed.
Outside stone wall of the castle forms a regular quadrangle (it is so-called convent type castle) with two big fortification towers. Moats filled with water were around the castle. Drawbridge united the castle-front with the central part. Castle of Ērģeme was in the district of the master of Holy Order, ancillary castle of the Komturei of Cēsis. In 15th century castle was significantly rebuilt. In 1575 Ērģeme was conquered by the Livonian duke Magnuss who sold the castle to Polish in 1578. In 1621 Swedish king Gustav Adolph occupied the castle and in 1625 it was loaned to the major-general de la Barre whose family owned the castle till 1795. In 1658 again castle was conquered by Polish. In 1670 fire started in the castle of Ērģeme and there are no data that afterwards castle was inhabited.
In the 5th of July 1702 during the Livonian war castle was blown up. Up to the 1853 castle was used as a grain storehouse of the parish. In 1986 castle ruins were conserved but works were not finalized, therefore castle ruins gradually are perishing. During the summer period cultural events take place in the open-air stage of the castle ruins.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.