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)

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User Reviews

Zebbedea (8 months ago)
Amazing collection showing pieces from the county from the building of the original castle back in the 1100s. No English translation on the individual exhibits, but a nice description in general of each room on a display stand. The Nydamboot display, a 23m viking boat found in a nearby bog, in a separate building is very well done. We didn't have tune to see the baroque gardens, the archaeological exhibit, or the other art displays in the stable buildings, so definitely a reason to go back again.
Floriana Micu (8 months ago)
Because of the times we live, we visited just the gardens and the exteriors. Everything was very nice and well maintained. The gardens are beautiful, but we went there with a buggy and it is tricky to visit the gardens because are a terrasse garden, lots of stairs and the gate at the very top of the garden was close
Oliver Falk-Becker (8 months ago)
Interesting museum in a historic castle in Schleswig. Our highlight were the bodies found in a bog. Overall I have to say that the museum would need a serious makeover. The exhibition seems somewhat erratic - e.g. with African masks right next to Germanic pottery.
Anne Floor Timan-Wenzel (10 months ago)
Beautiful, large and lots of interesting exhibitions
Alberto Sancho (11 months ago)
The Museum Island in Schleswig offers an exciting excursion into the history of Schleswig-Holstein, overwhelming archaeological treasures and works of art. One of the highlights is the castle itself, which today houses the Museum of Archeology and the Museum of Art and Cultural History . In addition to the permanent exhibitions, special shows are regularly presented, which attract attention far beyond the national borders. The reconstructed Gottorf globe , which is considered to be the first planetarium in history, and the rebuilt baroque garden that surrounds it, are no less worth seeing. The Archaeological Museum owns more than 10 million findings from 80,000 years of human history. Many of these were discovered in the northernmost Federal State of Germany. The museum presents selected exhibits in its exhibitions, including objects as spectacular as the Nydam boat and the bog bodies. — GG6R+PC Schleswig
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