Plön Castle is one of the largest castles in the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The former Residenz of the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Plön was built in the 17th century during the Thirty Years War and has had a colourful history in which it has, for example, been a school for military cadets and also a boarding school.
The earliest Wendish defensive fortification called Plune dates to the 10th century and was located on the island of Olsborg in Lake Plön. It was destroyed in 1158. The rebuilding of the castle was carried out under Count Adolphus II of Holstein, and it served as a base during the colonization of the once-Slavic region. In 1173 the castle was moved to the Bischofsberg hill next to the small town of Plön - to the site of the present Plön Castle.
In the course of the Count's Feud between Lübeck and Denmark, the castle was burned down in 1534 during a raid by Lübeck. Following that a new, larger, building was built on the still partly Romanesque castle grounds.
The first duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Plön was Joachim Ernest of Schleswig-Holstein-Plön, who decided to build a palace fit for himself and his family. In 1632 the old castle was demolished at the behest of the Duke of Plön and in its place the current castle was built in the Renaissance style. The new residence was completed in just three years in the middle of the Thirty Years War.
The castle was the residence of the ducal family, but was never as important a place in state politics as Gottorf Castle. Joachim Ernest established a library in the castle, which was expanded by his successors to 10,000 volumes. In addition, the Duke was very interested in physics and optics and collected various optical devices and instruments in his residence at Plön.
The castle experienced its cultural heyday from 1729 onwards under the last duke, Frederick Charles. He introduced a baroque court and had the interior of the castle decorated in the rococo style. Frederick Charles extended the castle, erecting buildings around the castle courtyard that have survived to this day - the royal stables, the riding hall - as well as the garden palace, now known as the Princes' House. The castle was the residence of the Dukes of Plön until the death of Frederick Charles, who died without male heirs in 1761. Upon his death the enfeoffment expired and the duchy returned to the Danish royal house. The building was occupied as a widow's residence by his wife, Christiane Armgardis, until her death in 1779. It subsequently served as the seat of the bailiff (Amtmann), and also from 1777 to 1823 as a residence for Peter Frederick William, the mentally deranged son of Frederick Augustus I of Oldenburg. The young man, who was unable to discharge his duties as a duke, was given the castle by his guardian, assigned to the Danish king Christian VII and was allowed to retain a large household. After his death, the castle was used temporarily as a courtly residence. In 1833 a grammar school was established in the castle.
In 1840 the castle became the official summer residence of the King of Denmark, Christian VIII. He had Plön Castle renovated and the furnishing partly replaced in a Classicist style. At that time it was decorated in white plaster, reminiscent of Danish castles such as Gråsten and Fredensborg.
After the Second Schleswig War of 1864, the castle fell into Prussian hands. In 1868, the interior furnishings were removed and most of them taken to Kiel Castle, where they were destroyed by fire in 1942 following an air raid. Plön Castle was rebuilt inside as barracks and subsequently served the Prussian Province of Schleswig-Holstein as a military school for cadets. The sons of the German Emperor, William II, were educated in Plön from the end of the 19th century and, for that purpose, the summer residence in the garden was extended to form the so-called Princes' House.
After World War I, military schools were banned by the Treaty of Versailles and the castle was used in the 1920s as a state educational institution. In 1933 Plön Castle and the area around it was used as a National Political Institute, an elite school under the Nazi regime. Until the assassination of Ernst Röhm in 1934 it bore his name.
The castle survived both world wars without suffering any wartime damage. Afterwards British occupation troops entered Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg as part of VIII Corps under General Evelyn Barker, and established their headquarters in the castle.
Since January 2002 it has belonged to the Fielmann Akademie Schloss Plön and, after extensive conversion, serves as a training and qualification centre for a branch of optometry. After being inaccessible to the general public for many years when it was a boarding school, its new owners have opened it to a limited extent to visitors.References:
The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood is one of the main sights of St. Petersburg. The church was built on the site where Tsar Alexander II was assassinated and was dedicated in his memory. Construction began in 1883 under Alexander III, as a memorial to his father, Alexander II. Work progressed slowly and was finally completed during the reign of Nicholas II in 1907. Funding was provided by the Imperial family with the support of many private donors.
Architecturally, the Cathedral differs from St. Petersburg's other structures. The city's architecture is predominantly Baroque and Neoclassical, but the Savior on Blood harks back to medieval Russian architecture in the spirit of romantic nationalism. It intentionally resembles the 17th-century Yaroslavl churches and the celebrated St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow.
The Church contains over 7500 square metres of mosaics — according to its restorers, more than any other church in the world. The interior was designed by some of the most celebrated Russian artists of the day — including Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Nesterov and Mikhail Vrubel — but the church's chief architect, Alfred Alexandrovich Parland, was relatively little-known (born in St. Petersburg in 1842 in a Baltic-German Lutheran family). Perhaps not surprisingly, the Church's construction ran well over budget, having been estimated at 3.6 million roubles but ending up costing over 4.6 million. The walls and ceilings inside the Church are completely covered in intricately detailed mosaics — the main pictures being biblical scenes or figures — but with very fine patterned borders setting off each picture.
In the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the church was ransacked and looted, badly damaging its interior. The Soviet government closed the church in the early 1930s. During the Second World War when many people were starving due to the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi German military forces, the church was used as a temporary morgue for those who died in combat and from starvation and illness. The church suffered significant damage. After the war, it was used as a warehouse for vegetables, leading to the sardonic name of Saviour on Potatoes.
In July 1970, management of the Church passed to Saint Isaac's Cathedral (then used as a highly profitable museum) and proceeds from the Cathedral were funneled back into restoring the Church. It was reopened in August 1997, after 27 years of restoration, but has not been reconsecrated and does not function as a full-time place of worship; it is a Museum of Mosaics. Even before the Revolution it never functioned as a public place of worship; having been dedicated exclusively to the memory of the assassinated tsar, the only services were panikhidas (memorial services). The Church is now one of the main tourist attractions in St. Petersburg.