Nordkirchen Palace

Coesfeld, Germany

Schloss Nordkirchen was largely built between 1703 and 1734 and is known as the 'Versailles of Westphalia' since it is the largest of the fully or partly moated Wasserschlösser in that region. It was originally one of the residences of the Prince-Bishopric of Münster.

In the 18th century, the structure visible today was raised in several building campaigns for Friedrich Christian von Plettenberg zu Lenhausen and his successor. In 1959, the schloss was purchased by the State of Nordrhein-Westfalen.

Parts of the interior of the palace are open to the public, as are the parterres and the surrounding park. Inside, an up-market restaurant offering Westphalian cuisine looks out into the large formal garden that faces the northern façade. The chapel may be rented for weddings.

The schloss stands on a rectangular island surrounded by a broad moat-like canal. The island’s four corners are accentuated by four small free-standing pavilions.

The garden front gives onto a landscaped park of some 170 hectares, reached through a formal parterre of scrolling broderie on axis, flanked by expanses of lawn. The gardens and the surrounded woods are peopled with a multitude of lifesize marble statues, of which the first deliveries were made in 1721 by the Munich sculptor Johann Wilhelm Gröninger. Other sculptures were delivered by Panhoff and Charles Manskirch. Further sculptures were added during the restoration in neo-Baroque style, undertaken in 1903-07.

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Details

Founded: 1703-1734
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in Germany
Historical period: Thirty Years War & Rise of Prussia (Germany)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Robert R (2 months ago)
Nice area for a walk
NICHOLAS GOTTWALD (2 months ago)
Loved it. My Uncle Christophe restores old castles and churches and he worked on this castle, so it was a real treat.
nigel elwell (3 months ago)
Nice day out on the bike. Lovely place.
Larissa Metz (3 months ago)
Lovely place, offers cheap guided tours with friendly staff
Kris Van Kerkhoven (6 months ago)
Guided tours only. Interior is remarkably well preserved. Tours are very interesting. Spend some time in the restaurant under the castle in case you need to wait.
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The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

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