Gottorf Castle is the ancestral home of the Holstein-Gottorp branch of the House of Oldenburg. It was first settled as an estate in 1161 as the residence of Bishop Occo of Schleswig when his former residence was destroyed. The Danish Duke of Schleswig acquired it through a purchase in 1268, and in 1340 it was transferred to the Count of Holstein at Rendsburg of the House of Schauenburg. The manor later, through maternal inheritance, became the possession of Christian I of Denmark, the first Danish monarch from the House of Oldenburg, in 1459.

Both the island and the structure were extended through the years, and particularly during the 16th century. Frederick I, younger son of Christian I, made it his primary residence. In 1544 the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein were divided in three parts; Frederick's third son Adolf received one of these parts and made his residence at Gottorp. This state became known as the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorp.

The estate became a European cultural centre in the reign of Frederick III, Duke of Holstein-Gottorp, (1597–1659). The castle was built by the famous Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger (1697-1703).

After the ducal lineage of Gottorp were forced to move out in 1702, the palace, now occupied by the Danish, fell into disuse and disrepair in 1713 under the reign of Frederick IV of Denmark. Pieces of furniture, art and other interior were gradually moved out of the palace, and the structures were used both as Danish and Prussian barracks in the 19th century.

During World War II, the estate was used as a displaced persons camp.

Since 1947, the palace has been renovated and restored through a series of efforts. The restoration was considered complete in 1996. The palace is now owned by a foundation of the State of Schleswig-Holstein and houses the State Art and Cultural History Museum and the State Archeological Museum.



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Founded: 16th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Habsburg Dynasty (Germany)


4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

syafa haack (6 months ago)
If you want to visit this place just be sure you have enough time to visit all of its museums. The ticket for adults is 9€. Kids under 6 years old: free. Kids over 6yo: 3€. There are 5 museums. The main museum is inside the palace. Do not miss to go the chapel upstairs. It is small but beautiful. Nevertheless you need to check its opening time. Sometimes it closed due the mess. I was there on Sunday noon around 13.00. The ticket staff said the chapel will close at 14.00. When I asked him I want to visit the chapel first, he convinced me I still have enough time to go there. I was already in the next room of the chapel some minutes before 13.30. But the staff upstairs already lock the chapel. He said the chapel closed a half hour before the mess. I then insisted to look for few minutes to take pictures. I was a bit disappointed with the unmanaged rule between its staff. Though it has a lift, the huge rooms in the main museum mostly with stairs. So it is not really accessible for wheelchair. Other museum out side the palace is the arch of the viking and museum of arts. One museum closed due to renovation.
Harriet Migwi (8 months ago)
So beautiful... So interesting. There's something for everyone...lovers of history that is :)
Nancy Anne Martin (11 months ago)
Great place to learn history of the area and many amazing artifacts. The workers also speak English, so no worries, there. Be sure to get the English portable guide. Without it you will be lost!
Dror Ben-Shlomo (12 months ago)
Huge castle with a lot of rooms full with arts., if you're interested in art and history it's a great place for you. BTW the globe near by is very interesting (requires another ticket)
bert kraan (13 months ago)
Beautiful place, I recommend it fully. This castle displays the vast and rich history of this part of Germany, its rulers, occupiers, citizens and artists from prehistoric times until today. I would take at least four hours to see everything, but take your time to visit the café and taste their great bonbons.
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Steinvikholm fort is owned and operated today by The society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. The island has been the site of the midnight opera which details the life and struggles of the archbishop. The opera is held in August annually. The opera is organized by Steinvikholm Musikkteater since the beginning in 1993.