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:
Sweetheart Abbey was a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1275 by Dervorguilla of Galloway in memory of her husband John de Balliol. His embalmed heart, in a casket of ivory and silver, was buried alongside her when she died; the monks at the Abbey then renamed the Abbey in tribute to her. Their son, also John, became king of Scotland but his reign was tragic and short. The depredations suffered by the Abbey in subsequent periods, have caused both the graves to be lost. The abbey, built in deep-red, local sandstone, was founded as a daughter house to Dundrennan Abbey; this Novum Monasterium (New Monastery), became known as the New Abbey.
The immediate abbey precincts extended to 120,000 m2 and sections of the surrounding wall can still be seen today. The Cistercian order, also known as the White Monks because of the white habit, over which they wore a black scapular or apron, built many great abbeys after their establishment around 1100. Like many of their abbeys, the New Abbey's interests lay not only in prayer and contemplation but in the farming and commercial activity of the area, making it the centre of local life. The abbey ruins dominate the skyline today and one can only imagine how it and the monks would have dominated early medieval life as farmers, agriculturalists, horse and cattle breeders. Surrounded by rich and fertile grazing and arable land, they became increasingly expert and systematic in their farming and breeding methods. Like all Cistercian abbeys, they made their mark, not only on the religious life of the district but on the ways of local farmers and influenced agriculture in the surrounding areas.
The village which stands next to the ruins today, is now known as New Abbey. At the other end of the main street is Monksmill, a corn mill. Although the present buildings date from the late eighteenth century, there was an earlier mill built by and for the monks of the abbey which serviced the surrounding farms.