Znojmo Castle was initially a wooden structure built by the Přemyslid Bretislaus I, Duke of Bohemia, and completed around 1080. The structure was intended to replace an old castle that was located across the Granice Valley, as part of an attempt at strengthening the defenses along the river Dyje against Austrian attack. From the new castle the river valley and surrounding area could be observed. However, in 1140, the wooden castle was besieged and destroyed.
Towards the end of the 12th Century the castle was reconstructed, this time in stone, and included a deep moat. The entrance to the castle was guarded by an octagonal tower called the Robber's Tower, which collapsed due to neglect at the end of the 19th Century.
The Royal City of Znojmo was founded by King Ottokar I of Bohemia and the Znojmo castle became the city's stronghold, connected to the city walls and containing a strong garrison of soldiers.
The importance of Znojmo Castle diminished near the end of the 17th century, after the Turkish threat was averted by Prince Eugene of Savoy. The Roman Emperor Joseph I redeemed the castle in 1710.
The front end of the castle was sold to local citizens and became the town brewery, producing Hostan beer. The rear of the castle came into the hands of the Lords of Deblin who built a Baroque chateau on the space, which still stands.
The only remains of the castle used by the Přemysl dukes is the Romanesque Rotunda of Saint Catherine, the interior of which is covered with 11th-century frescoes depicting biblical scenes and illustrating the life of Přemysl.
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.