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 original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.