Altena Castle

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Altena Castle
Altena Castle after the west wall was rebuilt

Altena Castle after the west wall was rebuilt

Creation time : 1100 to 1200
Castle type : Hilltop castle
Conservation status: Receive
Standing position : Count
Place: Altena
Geographical location 51 ° 17 ′ 56 "  N , 7 ° 40 ′ 31"  E Coordinates: 51 ° 17 ′ 56 "  N , 7 ° 40 ′ 31"  E
Altena Castle (North Rhine-Westphalia)
Altena Castle
Friedrichsthor, access to the castle

The Altena Castle is on a spur of the mountain gorges in the city Altena at the Lenne in the Mark Brandenburg district in North Rhine-Westphalia .

The Spur castle was according to legend, early 12th century by the Count of Berg built.


Around 1108, the brothers Adolf and Everhard von Berg are said to have received a piece of land in the Sauerland in the Brandenburg region for their loyal service from Emperor Heinrich V. They built a castle on the Wulfseck mountain, which they initially called Wulfeshagen, later Altena. This is one of at least three legends about the foundation of the County of Altena or the origins of the castle.

After the acquisition of the Oberhof Mark near Hamm in 1198, the Counts of Altena took their main residence in the local castle Mark and later called themselves "Counts of the Mark". The Altena ancestral castle was only inhabited temporarily, from 1392 it was only an official seat .

Count Engelbert III. Von der Mark granted the small settlement at the foot of the mountain on December 20, 1367 freedom rights (including the right to self-government and freedom from customs duties ).

In 1450 Evert von Dael promised the knight Wilhelm von Nesselrode zu Ehrenstein by bodily oath that Altena Castle would be handed over as often and when he would demand it. In 1455 Altena Castle burned down. Subsequently, the then official residence of those von Drosten was presumably only poorly rebuilt.

In Brandenburg - Prussian times the castle was a garrison. In 1771 it was sold to the city to build a poor house and work house . Furthermore, from 1766 to 1811, the criminal court of the County of Mark and prison were located there. The now heavily dilapidated Altena Castle was to be rebuilt in 1834 according to the ideas of the Chief President Ludwig von Vincke . The plans of the commissioned building inspector Ritter were completed in 1835. However, due to payment difficulties, this was not implemented. The Order of St. John set up a hospital in the buildings under Arnold Ludwig von Holtzbrinck in 1856 , which existed until 1906.

In the spring of 1906, the Märkische Burgverein was founded on the initiative of the then District Administrator Fritz Thomée , who set itself the task of rebuilding the castle by the 300th anniversary of the membership of the County of Mark to Prussia in 1909. Around 1914 the castle was renewed according to plans by the architect Georg Frentzen except for the outer bailey and the lower gate. In the meantime, controversial discussions had taken place about the modalities of the reconstruction, in which the district administrator and the architect prevailed against architecture and art historians. The last work was completed in 1918.

In 1914 Richard Schirrmann set up the world's first permanent youth hostel at the castle . The original rooms are now a museum. The youth hostel, which is operated by the German Youth Hostel Association (DJH) , is located in the lower courtyard. The site was inaugurated in 1934.

In 1943, the castle became the property of the then Altena district . Today the castle is the symbol of the city and the main attraction for tourists from all over the world. The entrance ticket to the castle is also valid for the nearby German Wire Museum .

Every year on the first weekend in August there is a big medieval festival in the castle and in the town.

Part of the castle is used as a restaurant. The large-scale wall painting in the ballroom is based on medieval models from several epochs of knighthood.

By the end of April 2014, an elevator was built as part of the Regionale 2013 funding project , the use of which is chargeable. This begins at the foot of the Klusenberg after an approximately 95 meter long adventure course from the pedestrian zone Lennestrasse and leads 60 meters vertically through the rock to the castle courtyard. The construction of the castle elevator was estimated at 5.7 million euros, of which 5.12 million euros were funded by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The elevator started operating on April 26, 2014. On the way, visitors get an insight into 900 years of castle history in a time tunnel at six stations, from Wieland the blacksmith to the world's first youth hostel.

As the owner, the Märkische Kreis continuously carries out substance-preserving maintenance measures, including on the castle gates, which were extensively restored between 2016 and 2018. The restored gates were named Monument of the Month in Westphalia-Lippe in December 2018 by the LWL Monument Preservation, Landscape and Building Culture in Westphalia .


There are many exhibition rooms in the castle buildings. The Museum of Grafschaft Mark , the Museum Weltjugendherberge , the Märkisches Schmiedemuseum and the German Hiking Museum have merged to form the Altena Castle Museums .

The "Society of Friends of Altena Castle", which publishes the magazine Der Märker together with the district, is committed to supporting the castle .

Picture gallery


  • Ferdinand Schmidt: Altena Castle - sheets of memory for friends and visitors to our castle. Märkischer Burgverein, 1924.
  • Wilhelm Quincke: Guide through Altena Castle . 1968.
  • Hans Heinrich Diedrich: Altena Castle ( Westfälische Kunststätten , issue 1). Munster 1977.
  • Ernst Dossmann: In the footsteps of the Counts of the Mark . 3. Edition. Mönning, Iserlohn 1992, ISBN 3-922885-14-4 , pp. 164-168.
  • Stefan Eismann: Altena Castle in Altena, Märkischer Kreis. Early castles in Westphalia 28th Münster 2009.
  • Stefan Eismann: Altena Castle . In: Ministry for Building and Transport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia / Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe (Hrsg.): Burgen AufRuhr. On the way to 100 castles, palaces and mansions in the Ruhr region . Klartext Verlag, Essen 2010, pp. 260–264.

Web links

Commons : Burg Altena  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Altena Castle, Ruhr Guide accessed on November 23, 2010
  2. ^ History of Altena Castle, accessed on November 23, 2010
  3. Revers of Duke Gerhard von Kleve . Source: Certificate, without number. Archives Schloss Herten zu Herten
  4. ^ District archive of the Märkisches Kreis - Carlowitz-Holtzbrinck House. Retrieved March 14, 2018 .
  5. ^ Heinrich Ulrich Seidel, Agnes Zelck: Over hill and dale - 100 years of youth hostels. Lüdenscheid 2009, p. 29.
  6. Burg Altena Youth Hostel
  7. ^ Märkischer Kreis: The new adventure elevator to Altena Castle , accessed on November 29, 2013
  8. Article from the Altenaer Kreisblatt dated April 26, 2014: "Minister Groschek is a guest - Castle elevator in Altena is open"
  9. Article from the Altenaer Kreisblatt from April 28, 2014: "Monday is Craftsmen's Day"
  10. Danae Votteler: Monument of the month: Altena Castle and the castle gates. LWL monument preservation, landscape and building culture in Westphalia , accessed on January 3, 2019 .