Sparrenberg Castle

Bielefeld, Germany

The Sparrenburg castle in Bielefeld was erected sometime before 1250 by the counts of Ravensberg. It guarded the Bielefeld Pass over the Teutoburg Forest, as well as acting as the ruling seat of the counts of Ravensberg, and as protection for the city of Bielefeld, probably founded around 1200. Because the construction of a protective castle generally predates the foundation of a town, it is assumed that there was an older castle. In 1256, the castle was first mentioned in records.

Following the discovery of gunpowder and the resultant increasing use of cannon and other firearms,  dukes of Cleves (the counts of Ravensberg, the) ordered the expansion of the castle into a fortress of the Early Modern Period that could withstand bombardment from siege guns and also employ its own cannon. Around 1530, a round bastion was added in the west, only accessible from the castle itself via a bridge, from which one could control Bielefeld Pass with artillery. The construction was finished in 1578 and created the largest fortress in Westphalia. The old castle was now surrounded by a terrace and a high defensive wall.

17th century wars

After the War of the Jülich Succession the castle was granted to Dutch confederates. Their occupation became effective in November 1615.

In 1623, in the course of the Thirty Years' War, the Dutch had to retreat before the overpowering advance of the Spanish army. In 1625, Brandenburg's colonel Gent unsuccessfully attempted to reconquer the Sparrenburg with the help of Ravensberg's peasants. In 1636 the Swedes and Hessians besieged the Spanish for nearly one year before they had to hand over the fortress in 1637. In 1642, they left Sparrenburg to their French allies.

In 1648, the Peace of Westphalia confirmed the affiliation to Brandenburg-Prussia. In the following years the Grand Elector Frederick William stayed several times at the fortress, and two of his children were born there.

During the Franco-Dutch War the Sparrenburg successfully resisted its last sieges, in 1673 against troops of Münster and in 1679 French troops.

At the end of the 17th century, the Sparrenburg no longer met the military requirements. Therefore, it was partly used as a prison, and partly subjected to decline. The outer walls were torn down by agreement of King Frederick II of Prussia and were used for the construction of the barracks 55, which still stands at the Hans-Sachs-Straße.

Today

Used as a anti-aircraft emplacement during World War II, the Sparrenburg was heavily damaged in the course of the air raid on Bielefeld on 30 September 1944; only the tower remained undamaged. From 1948 to 1987 there was continuous cleanup and restoration work. From 1955 to 1983 the German Museum of Playing Cards was housed in the rebuilt estate building. A new visitor center was opened in 2014. The above-ground parts of the Sparrenburg can be visited year-round, free of charge. The rest of the castle can be visited daily from April to October. 

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Details

Founded: 13th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Sajid Naveed (17 months ago)
Good place to spend time with family
Khaled Sadeq (17 months ago)
Great small castle close to old town and the scenery is gorgeous of the entire Bielefeld area
sunil kumar MM (18 months ago)
Nice place to walk , good view of Bilefeldfrom from top.
Murat Meah (18 months ago)
Came here for my friends wedding and was highly impressed. An amazing piece of history kept in perfect shape
Luc René de Cotret (2 years ago)
Very lovely place to go for a short walk. The castle is small but very well maintained. There is a small restaurant as well as picnic tables in the center square. Visits of the tower and inside areas are paid but the outskirts are free to visit. Parking places are limited so consider parking downtown and using one of several stairs leading up to the fortress to access.
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