The earliest data regarding human settlement at Vallimäe in Rakvere come from the Viking Age, an arrowhead from the 9th century and some broken pieces of pottery from this period have been found on the territory of the castle. There is more information about the last centuries of the prehistoric age when an ancient wooden stronghold surrounded by a fence stood in the place of the present convent building.
First written records about the stronghold called Tarvanpea come from the year 1226. In the middle of the 13th century the Danes started to replace the wooden stronghold with a more modern stone fortress.
After Virumaa and Harjumaa passed into the possession of the Livonian Order in 1347, a grand-scale reconstruction of the castle was carried out in several stages. In the first half of the 16th century a convent-type castle with a rectangular main tower was completed, it had strong flanks, a large front yard and an eastern gate consisting of several parts: the outer gate included a pitfall and a drawbridge and the inner gate had a lowered lattice. Living quarters and outbuildings were located in the front yard, near the circular wall.
During the Livonian war (1558–1583) the castle was attacked and damaged by the Russians, but it ended up under Swedish control. From 1602 to 1605 Rakvere fortress fell under the control of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. When they retreated from Rakvere in 1605 during the war with Sweden, they blew up the castle.
Today Rakvere castle is open to the public. In addition to the museum you can taste knights’ favourite drink, a Malvasia wine, made after the oldest recipe at the wine cellar.
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.