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:
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.
Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter"s Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.