The Herten family, vassals of the Werden Abbey, was first documented in 1286. At that time, their residence was probably in the center of today's city next to St. Antonius church. In the 14th century, the family with 'Ritter' (knight) status built a fortified house on the site of today's castle. In 1376, this building was mentioned as fief of Werden Abbey. Through marriage, the Herten house fell into the possession of the von Galen family in mid-14th century. In 1488, it changed hands in the same manner to Dietrich von Stecke zur Leythe. Ultimately, in 1529 Anna von Stecke married Betram I. von Nesselrode. As part of the powerful house of Nesselrode, he was steward for the Electorate of Cologne in the Recklinghausen district and expedited the modification and extension of the buildings in 1530.
While foundations of today's main castle building incorporate elements from the 14th-century building, the buildings visible today were built by Stecke and Nesselrode families in the 16th and 17th century. The main castle consists of four wings creating an inner courtyard.
After the First World War, the main castle building was no longer used as a residence and started to deteriorate. Subsidence caused by the widespread sub-surface mining in the surrounding industrial Ruhr area added to the structural damage, bringing the castle buildings close to collapse. Only radical restoration measures from 1974 to 1989 saved the late Gothic castle complex from total decline. Today it is used as a venue for concerts, cultural events and festivities. It also houses a café. The castle's park is popular for walking, picknicking, jogging and biking.References:
Angelokastro is a Byzantine castle on the island of Corfu. It is located at the top of the highest peak of the island"s shoreline in the northwest coast near Palaiokastritsa and built on particularly precipitous and rocky terrain. It stands 305 m on a steep cliff above the sea and surveys the City of Corfu and the mountains of mainland Greece to the southeast and a wide area of Corfu toward the northeast and northwest.
Angelokastro is one of the most important fortified complexes of Corfu. It was an acropolis which surveyed the region all the way to the southern Adriatic and presented a formidable strategic vantage point to the occupant of the castle.
Angelokastro formed a defensive triangle with the castles of Gardiki and Kassiopi, which covered Corfu"s defences to the south, northwest and northeast.
The castle never fell, despite frequent sieges and attempts at conquering it through the centuries, and played a decisive role in defending the island against pirate incursions and during three sieges of Corfu by the Ottomans, significantly contributing to their defeat.
During invasions it helped shelter the local peasant population. The villagers also fought against the invaders playing an active role in the defence of the castle.
The exact period of the building of the castle is not known, but it has often been attributed to the reigns of Michael I Komnenos and his son Michael II Komnenos. The first documentary evidence for the fortress dates to 1272, when Giordano di San Felice took possession of it for Charles of Anjou, who had seized Corfu from Manfred, King of Sicily in 1267.
From 1387 to the end of the 16th century, Angelokastro was the official capital of Corfu and the seat of the Provveditore Generale del Levante, governor of the Ionian islands and commander of the Venetian fleet, which was stationed in Corfu.
The governor of the castle (the castellan) was normally appointed by the City council of Corfu and was chosen amongst the noblemen of the island.
Angelokastro is considered one of the most imposing architectural remains in the Ionian Islands.