The Villa Hügel was built by Alfred Krupp in 1870-1873 as his main residence and was the home of the Krupp family of industrialists until after World War II. Today the villa is now open to the public. Its hall is the regular concert venue of the chamber orchestra Folkwang Kammerorchester Essen. It is also used for exhibitions.
Up to around 800 people worked on the construction project at a time. Since Alfred Krupp wanted a very modern home, the villa was supposed to be fire-proof, well insulated from sun, wind, cold and heat. It featured double-paned windows, water heating and an early form of air conditioning. The temperature was supposed to be independently adjustable for each room. A large complex of support buildings was erected nearby, including private water and gas works.
Krupp pushed for a speedy completion, although the Franco-Prussian War and collapsing mining tunnels underneath the edifice slowed construction. On 10 January 1873, the family moved in. Some of the technical features did not work as expected, however, so work continued after that.
Alfred Krupp died in 1887. The family continued to use the Villa Hügel and Friedrich Alfred Krupp and his wife Margarethe made some significant changes to the house, adding sumptuous ornamentation. Among other heads of state and monarchs, Emperor Wilhelm II stayed at the Villa Hügel nine times. The current appearance of the Villa is mostly due to the next generation of Krupps, Friedrich Alfred's daughter Bertha and her husband Gustav Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach, who hired Ernst von Ihne to work on the building after 1912. He added wooden paneling on the interior and the owners furnished the Villa with numerous works of art.
An annex called the Little House (Kleines Haus) containing sixty rooms was used to confine Alfried Krupp in the aftermath of the Second World War. Some parts of the villa were used to house members of the British post-war Control Commission for at least a while during 1946.
The house has 269 rooms and occupies 8,100 m². It is situated in a 28-hectare park that overlooks the River Ruhr and the Baldeneysee.
The main complex consists of the three-storied Wohnhaus and a three-storied Logierhaus. The two were linked by a winter garden (now a two-storied building). The construction is supported by an iron framework, very modern for the time. The overall style of the original building was a very austere example of a late-Neoclassical villa. Later changes added more ornamentation. The interior of the main building's ground and second floors is dominated by a main hall of over 400 square-meters. By contrast, the rooms of the (non-public) first floor were kept relatively simple.References:
Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.
The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.
In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.
Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.
About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.
Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.
A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.