Alameda Castle is one of the scarce remains of military architecture from 15th century and one of few castles that have survived over the time and now arises once more after a restoration process and being converted into a museum.
The origin of the castle dates back to the late fourteenth century or the beginnings of the fifteenth century, and is linked to the Zapata family, who were holders of the seigniory which included the villages of Barajas and La Alameda. Its site has great archaeological value as it is a proven location of human settlements since Prehistoric times.
Refurbished during the sixteenth century, when it was transformed into a Renaissance palace, the fortification is one of the few remains of military architecture of that era preserved in the city.
As has happened with other historical buildings, after falling into disuse in the eighteenth century, the castle was used as a source of building materials for the population in the area, which contributed to its great deterioration, particularly noticeable during the nineteenth century. Years later, the enclave resumed its military function, being used as a small stronghold in the Spanish Civil War, when a rifle cache was also built in the area.
The Castle of Barajas ensemble is structured around two premises that include the main body of the building and the space surrounding the barbican. Of a rectangular design and rounded corners, the castle surface barely exceeds 200 square meters. The walls are made of limestone masonry and include the remains of two towers. One of them, the keep tower, has a quadrangular design and lies on the northeastern angle of the castle, while the second one, of a cylindrical layout, lies on the southeastern side. Inside, the castle structure was designed around a courtyard with ancillary rooms, complemented by the said keep tower.
The barbican remains may be found some four meters away around the castle, but only sections of wall fillings half a meter high have been preserved. The ensemble was completed with a moat surrounding the small stronghold; however, only the eastern and western flanks have reached our times.
Next to the castle itself and the prehistoric remains, the historic ensemble is completed by the Guard House, a rifle cache from the Civil War and the pantheon that the Fernán Núñez family built around 1898 and which is still in use.References:
The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries.
In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should inherit Cochem Castle by laying siege to it and taking possession of it himself. That same year it became an official Imperial Castle (Reichsburg) subject to imperial authority. In 1282 it was Habsburg King Rudolf’s turn, when he conquered the Reichsburg Cochem and took it over. But just 12 years later, in 1294, the newest owner, King Adolf of Nassau pawned the castle, the town of Cochem and the surrounding region in order to finance his coronation. Adolf’s successor, Albrecht I, was unable to redeem the pledge and was forced to grant the castle to the archbishop in nearby Trier and the Electorate of Trier, which then administered the Reichsburg continuously, except for a brief interruption when Trier’s Archbishop Balduin of Luxembourg had to pawn the castle to a countess. But he got it back a year later.
The Electorate of Trier and its nobility became wealthy and powerful in large part due to the income from Cochem Castle and the rights to shipping tolls on the Moselle. Not until 1419 did the castle and its tolls come under the administration of civil bailiffs (Amtsmänner). While under the control of the bishops and electors in Trier from the 14th to the 16th century, the castle was expanded several times.
In 1688 the French invaded the Rhine and Moselle regions of the Palatinate, which included Cochem and its castle. French troops conquered the Reichsburg and then laid waste not only to the castle but also to Cochem and most of the other surrounding towns in a scorched-earth campaign. Between that time and the Congress of Vienna, the Palatinate and Cochem went back and forth between France and Prussia. In 1815 the western Palatinate and Cochem finally became part of Prussia once and for all.
Louis Jacques Ravené (1823-1879) did not live to see the completion of his renovated castle, but it was completed by his son Louis Auguste Ravené (1866-1944). Louis Auguste was only two years old when construction work at the old ruins above Cochem began in 1868, but most of the new castle took shape from 1874 to 1877, based on designs by Berlin architects. After the death of his father in 1879, Louis Auguste supervised the final stages of construction, mostly involving work on the castle’s interior. The castle was finally completed in 1890. Louis Auguste, like his father, a lover of art, filled the castle with an extensive art collection, most of which was lost during the Second World War.
In 1942, during the Nazi years, Ravené was forced to sell the family castle to the Prussian Ministry of Justice, which turned it into a law school run by the Nazi government. Following the end of the war, the castle became the property of the new state of Rheinland-Pfalz (Rhineland-Palatinate). In 1978 the city of Cochem bought the castle for 664,000 marks.