Altleiningen castle was built on the domed summit of a hill, about 400 metres high, that rises above the left bank of the Eckbach. The name, like that of its sister castle, Neuleiningen 5 kilometres northeast, is derived from the Frankish noble family of Leiningen, who used to rule the territory of the Leiningerland.
The mighty hill fortress is built on rocks and was probably established around 1100 to 1110 by the Count of Leiningen, Emich I, and his son, Emich II, under the name of Leiningen Castle. The overall castle site, which follows the shape of the hilltop, has a triangular ground plan. Of the original caste, only a few wall remains on the west side have survived. The outer ward was surrounded by its own moat and by a main ditch hewn out of the rock, over which there was a drawbridge that separated it from the actual castle. Two kilometres to the south of the castle, Emich II founded Höningen Abbey around 1120.
During the peasants' uprising in 1525 the castle suffered its first destruction. The present site is based on its rebuilding in the Renaissance style, beginning in 1528, by counts Cuno II, Philip I, Louis and John Casimir. Its reconstruction required the local farmers to render socage.
Around 1600 a gallery was driven deep into the rock below the castle in order to obtain a supply of water. The 20-Pipe Well is today the biggest source of water for the Eckbach.
In 1690 the castle was destroyed again, this time for good, during the War of the Palatine Succession by French troops. Thereafter it was used as a quarry until the mid-19th century when this was banned by the government of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Until 1933 the terrain remained in the hands of the counts of Leiningen (Leiningen-Westerburg-Altleiningen line), before it was procured by the county of Frankenthal. In 1962 the ruins were listed and the schloss wing rebuilt in the six years that followed. In doing so they incorporated the wall remains on the western side.
In 1968 a youth hostel was integrated into the partially rebuilt castle. This was completely modernized between 1998 and 2000. As part of this renovation the castle was given a gable roof again; previously it had had a flat, 1960s-style roof. The great hall is used as a dining room; another guest room is the Burgschänke pub with its summer terrace. The main moat has been converted into a public open air swimming pool.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.