Zülpich Castle origins may be traced to a Roman castrum. The present site was built in the late 14th century as a symbol of sovereignty and outpost of the archbishops of Cologne against the County of Jülich.
Razed by French troops at the end of the 17th century, the ruins of the lowland castle ended up in private hands. The Zülpich manufacturing family of Sieger opened a schnaps distillery in the castle until 1870 that operated until the 1980s. In the Second World War it was badly damaged, was partly rebuilt in the 1950s and acts today as a tourist information bureau and home of the Zülpich History Society.
Zülpich Castle is a modest brick building with an almost rectangular plan with high towers at the corners. It is one of the classic quadrangular castles of a type ideal for the Late Middle Ages. Its austere-looking defences are almost entirely devoid of architectural features and underline its fortress-like character which befits its location at the southwestern corner of the medieval town of Zülpich and its incorporation into the town's fortifications.
The enclosed quadrangular structure was originally surrounded by a moat. At its southern, western and eastern corners are round towers that were all once four storeys high. In the north and at right angles is a square tower measuring 10×10 metres with corner ashlars that is the only survivor of an older castle. The present appearance dates the 17th century. The two full-height round towers are topped by protruding, open fighting platforms with brick battlements. All the round corner towers once had residential rooms with fireplaces and garderobes. The western tower facing the town also acted as a dungeon.
The four wings were formerly two-storey residential ranges with high basement vaults. Today only the thick outside walls have survived. The remaining structure of the present-day wing dates to a later period because the original roofs and interior walls from the 17th century have not survived.
The best preserved exterior wall is on the southeast side with the main gate made from carefully cut bunter sandstone ashlars to which the drawbridge used to lead. Above the portal are two, angled coats of arms whose details were probably destroyed by French soldiers in 1794. They used to depict the arms of Frederick of Saarwerden and probably the Archbishopric of Cologne.References:
The eight towns in south-eastern Sicily, including Ragusa, were all rebuilt after 1693 on or beside towns existing at the time of the earthquake which took place in that year. They represent a considerable collective undertaking, successfully carried out at a high level of architectural and artistic achievement. Keeping within the late Baroque style of the day, they also depict distinctive innovations in town planning and urban building. Together with seven other cities in the Val di Noto, it is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In 1693 Ragusa was devastated by a huge earthquake, which killed some 5,000 inhabitants. Following this catastrophe the city was largely rebuilt, and many Baroque buildings from this time remain in the city. Most of the population moved to a new settlement in the former district of Patro, calling this new municipality 'Ragusa Superiore' (Upper Ragusa) and the ancient city 'Ragusa Inferiore' (Lower Ragusa). The two cities remained separated until 1926, when they were fused together to become a provincial capital in 1927.