Düsseldorf Castle

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Remaining castle tower on the banks of the Rhine, today a Düsseldorf landmark
City side of Düsseldorf Castle in the Renaissance style , 1629, drawing by Landgrave Moritz von Hessen-Kassel
Rhine side of Düsseldorf's old town with St. Lambertus and castle, photo from the middle of the 19th century
Düsseldorf Palace, wing of the building for the Rhenish provincial parliament in the neo-renaissance style , ruin around 1890
Rhine side of the Düsseldorf Palace, 1798
Old Palace in Düsseldorf, wing A is the oldest part. Wing B with round tower C added in the 13th century. Wing D with a square southeast tower from the 15th century.

The Düsseldorf lock on or in the old town of Düsseldorf was from 1260 to 1872 or 1896. The building was in 1260 as a lowland castle of Count of Berg on the Rhine estuary of Düssel on a small island built. Extensions as a ducal and electoral residence palace took place under Wilhelm the Rich (1549), Jan Wellem (late 17th century) and Carl Theodor (1755). The palace received international attention primarily through its picture gallery , which was the first independent gallery in Europe to be built on the south side of the palace from 1709 to 1712 and which exhibited a world-famous collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings until 1805. From 1817 to 1848 a part of the palace housed a mint of the Kingdom of Prussia. From 1845 onwards, the former residential palace, which had already hosted the Düsseldorf Art Academy for a few decades , was expanded under Friedrich Wilhelm IV. To become the parliament of the Rhenish estates (state parliament) . On the night of March 19-20, 1872, the castle, which for centuries had been the landmark of the residential city of Düsseldorf and a center of life and the urban structure of the old town, was destroyed by flames. A remaining south wing was demolished in 1896.

At the site of the castle today extends Castle Square , whose name on the historical use of the area as a castle points. Only the castle tower , in which the Maritime Museum is located, remained of her. In addition, only a contour made of different colored stones reminds of the castle there, which indicates the former floor plan of the Düsseldorf castle in the pavement of the Burgplatz.

Building history

Founding and expansion, 13th to 15th centuries

Castle, 1288
West view of the Düsseldorf Palace after the redesign according to the plans of the builder Nosthofen in 1755.
The Düsseldorf Palace based on a plan from 1756
Fire in the city and the residential palace after being bombarded by French artillery on October 6, 1794
The old academy in Düsseldorf , representation of the art academy in a wing of the Düsseldorf Palace on a painting by Andreas Achenbach , 1831
Castle ruins , depiction of the castle tower on a painting by Carl Adloff , around 1840
View of the city of Düsseldorf , painting by Julius Kost , 1861, view of the guard, academy and castle tower with a new lantern by August Stüler from 1845
Old castle in Düsseldorf in 1869, rebuilt as a meeting place for the Rhenish estates. Ständehaus (left), gallery building (middle) and castle tower (right).
Fire at Düsseldorf Castle in 1872, according to August von Wille
Düsseldorf Castle after the fire, around 1872

The palace complex was founded as a count's castle before 1260. The construction of the castle points to the time when Count Adolf V von Berg, together with Duke Johann I von Brabant and the Counts of Jülich and Mark, finally ended the rule of the Archbishop of Cologne in the Battle of Worringen in 1288. The round tower that has been preserved dates from the 13th century. The elevation of Wilhelm II to the rank of imperial prince resulted in a planned spatial arrangement of the Düsseldorf residence. In 1382 the forerunner of a Bergisch chancellery ("schrijfcamer") existed at the castle. Construction work on a princely chapel is guaranteed for 1382, which is known as the “castle chapel” in a document dated July 12, 1392 by Archbishop of Cologne Friedrich III. was cited. Further construction work took place around 1384. A three-wing castle complex was built, which took up approximately the area of ​​today's castle square. The construction took place as part of a city expansion plan. In 1399 there are already two chapels; in the smaller one ("capella minor") Duke Wilhelm made the promised feudal oath to the English King Richard II on April 23, 1399 in the presence of the English envoy Johann de Palacio . In 1435 a "Burghgrave" is mentioned. The castle burned for the first time in 1492, after which there was increased building activity. At the end of the 15th century the castle was expanded, the square southeast tower was built, which dominated the Mühlenstrasse and Kurzestrasse, as well as the market square and castle square. Sandstone blocks mixed with trachyte were used as material for the castle. Later reinforcements were made of brickwork.

Fire and destruction in 1510

On December 23, 1510, another fire destroyed the attempt to expand the building. The Duisburg Chronicle describes the fire in the old castle in Düsseldorf: “Item in the same year on the 23rd roof of December brande die alde Borch to Dusseldorp gans aff” .

Reconstruction and remodeling according to plans by Pasqualini in 1549

In 1521 Düsseldorf became the capital of the United Duchies of Jülich-Kleve-Berg and now urgently needed a representative palace. Bertram von Zündorf led the reconstruction and renovation . But it was not until William the Rich summoned the Renaissance master builder Alessandro Pasqualini from Bologna to Düsseldorf in 1549 that building activity took off.

In 1551 he completed the only remaining tower of the castle . He placed Tuscan columns in front of it. Pasqualini also added a Renaissance dome to the tower, crowned by a lantern with a Welsh dome. In the north-eastern corner of the castle courtyard, Pasqualini also installed a three-storey loggia which, in its "modern Renaissance form, stands out very much from the ancient half-timbered gallery to the left of the rectangular stair tower". Documented is an aedicula portal with pilasters on the wall rhythmized by bosses . The palace chapel with its altar wall and paneling with blind arcades , Corinthian wall pilasters and cranked cornice must also be considered a work of Pasqualini.

The format and art of Pasqualini can be seen in the preserved buildings of Rheydt Castle and Jülich Citadel .

On the occasion of the wedding with Jakobe von Baden-Baden , Frans Hogenberg created various copperplate engravings in 1585, which depict the architecture of the residential palace:

In 1613 the Palatinate-Neuburgian Hereditary Prince Wolfgang Wilhelm and the Brandenburg Elector Johann Sigismund met in Düsseldorf Castle to negotiate the Jülich-Klevian succession dispute. In the heat of the battle of words, Johann Sigismund slapped the Pfalz-Neuburger. The negotiations did not lead to an agreement.

Reconstruction according to Martinelli's plans, end of the 17th century

When Elector Jan Wellem took over the rule, he moved his court to Düsseldorf. “Towards the end of the 17th century” he had the palace “modernized and equipped to his taste, the stair tower on the wing on the Rhine side, as well as the loggia and [half-timbered] galleries had to give way to arcades and a strictly structured three-line window front”.

The renovation work also focused on the interior; Jan Wellem made use of Italian architects, especially Domenico Martinelli , who initially designed a large rectangular four-wing complex with symmetrical baroque facades and room sequences using the foundation walls of the old castle. Due to a lack of funds, however, this design was not implemented, instead the old castle was extensively modernized. The baroque court also required more space. A bakery, a brewery, a horse stable and a riding school were built, as well as a theater, a ballroom and a page house. The large ballroom with windows facing the Rhine was built in the wing on the Rhine side. The banquets and balls on the occasion of the wedding of Johann Wilhelm , the son of Wilhelm the Rich, with Jakobe von Baden had taken place in this hall . The hall had a "very powerful beamed ceiling and huge tapestries". One illustration has been preserved in Dietrich Graminäus' memory book. In 1654 Duke Philipp Wilhelm received the English King Charles II at the castle. In 1697 another important wedding ceremony took place in the castle: The homosexual Gian Gastone de 'Medici , next to his also homosexual brother Ferdinando, the last male representative of the Medici Grand Ducal family , married Anna Maria Franziska von Sachsen-Lauenburg , from whom he soon separated without children with which this dynasty was doomed to extinction. During the War of the Spanish Succession , in October 1703, Archduke Charles , who was proclaimed King of Spain and later the Roman-German Emperor Charles VI , paid a visit to the couple in the palace. John Churchill , who was involved in the acts of war at the time, was also in Düsseldorf these days. Because of the conquest of the electoral Cologne Kaiserswerth in 1702, the English Queen Anna had made him the first Duke of Marlborough . Between 1709 and 1712, according to plans by Matteo Alberti, the Düsseldorf Gemäldegalerie was the first independent gallery building in Europe to be added to the palace.

Elector Jan Wellem and his wife Anna Maria Luisa resided in Düsseldorf, often went to Benrath Palace in the summer , and moved into Bensberg Palace for hunting .

After Jan Wellem's death, the main residence of the elector under his successor Karl Philipp was moved to Heidelberg in 1718 and to Mannheim in 1720 , so that the palace and city of Düsseldorf lost their prominent position again.

Demolition of the north wing and reconstruction according to plans from Nosthofen in 1755

In 1755 Carl Theodor decided to build a new one due to the dilapidation of the old castle caused by fire and moisture. So he had the old north wing demolished. He had the parapets of the roofs removed from the other wings and an additional floor built over the Gothic arches on the third floor as living quarters for the servants. The building complex was crowned with steep, heavy French roofs, the designs were provided by the court architect Johann Caspar Nosthofen . In 1780 Nicolas de Pigage built the new stables .

Bombardment and destruction in 1794 and decision to restore in 1811

The armies of revolutionary France reached the Rhine near Neuss and Düsseldorf in 1794 . On the evening of October 6th, the French under Jean-Baptiste Kléber and Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte , who later became King of Sweden, answered a cannonade of the imperial troops in the city with a bombardment of Düsseldorf. Thereupon a big fire broke out on the night of October 7th, during which the royal palace, church and monastery of the Cölestinerinnen in Ratinger Straße , the electoral stables on Mühlenstraße and many town houses burned down and burned down. The bombardment was painted in a gouache by an unknown person: In the foreground is the French battery on the left bank of the Rhine. The city is lit by flames that break out of the castle and the houses on Ratinger and Mühlenstrasse.

In the “embellishment decree” of December 17, 1811, which was published in the law bulletin of the Grand Duchy of Berg , Napoleon Bonaparte , who had visited Düsseldorf the previous month, provided under Article 5 that the old castle should be restored and a university should be housed in it .

Reconstruction according to plans by Wiegmann and Stülers in 1845

The remaining parts of the palace were to be rebuilt or supplemented in the neo-Renaissance style for the provincial parliament of the Rhenish estates and for the art academy according to plans by the art academy professor Rudolf Wiegmann and the royal Prussian court architect Friedrich August Stüler . In 1845 the foundation stone was laid in the presence of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV . The tower still standing as part of the castle ruins was rebuilt based on Pasqualini's ideas, also in the Neo-Renaissance style. The tower was also given a lantern with a platform above the top floor, designed by King Friedrich Wilhelm IV., Implemented by Stüler. The north wing was covered. The provincial trade exhibition for Rhineland and Westphalia took place in the completed 24 halls of the palace from July 15 to October 1, 1852, even before the provincial parliament moved in.

Fire in 1872 and demolition of the south wing in 1896

On the night of March 19-20, 1872, a major fire broke out on the upper floor of the castle wing on the Rhine side, and the whole castle was affected. The part used for the Ständehaus also burned out. The old gallery building but remained thanks to the efforts of its curator, the artist Andreas Müller , get along with his valuable assets. After the fire, only the castle tower was restored. First, Wilhelm Lotz , the head of the architecture class at the art academy, and Hermann Riffart developed plans to rebuild the palace for the purposes of the art academy. This was countered by concerns of other professors, who questioned the suitability of the castle as an academy building and called for better rooms, which they finally got with the new building of the art academy at the security harbor in 1879. The provincial assembly of the Rhine Province also had a new building erected, the estate building on the Kaiserteich , built between 1876 and 1880 . The south wing of the castle, which had been preserved, was demolished in 1896. All that remained was the castle tower in the shape created by Pasqualini, Wiegmann and Stüler, which was called the Round Tower at the beginning of the 20th century .


  • Thomas Coryat , an English travel writer who is considered one of the fathers of the Grand Tour , wrote in his Crudities published in 1611 : “The first city I came to was Düsseldorf, a pretty town in the Duchy of Kleve, right on the Rhine. It is remarkable for two things: one is a magnificent palace that belongs to the Duke, and then there is a residence of the ducal court ... But little as I saw, I noticed that it is the most magnificent residence that I have saw throughout the Netherlands. This palace has a unique peculiarity: a part of the Rhine is beautifully built over by matching vaults that were created for this purpose ”.
  • Heinrich Heine remembered his childhood in Düsseldorf with the following lines: “... we sat in front of the marble statue on the Schlossplatz - on one side is the old, ravaged castle, which is haunted and at night a black silk lady without a head, with a long, rustling one Train wanders around ... “. The memory of the unhappy Jakobe von Baden is hidden in the black silk lady .


Web links

Commons : Düsseldorfer Schloss  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hugo Weidenhaupt: From the French time to the Prussian time. In: Hugo Weidenhaupt (Ed.): Düsseldorf. History from the origins to the 20th century. Schwann in Patmos Verlag, Düsseldorf 1988, ISBN 3-491-34222-8 , Volume 2, p. 358
  2. Hugo Weidenhaupt, p. 578
  3. ^ A b c d e Architects and Engineers Association of Düsseldorf (ed.): Düsseldorf and its buildings. L. Schwann, Düsseldorf 1904, pp. 144f
  4. Axel Kolodjiej: Duke Wilhelm I von Berg (1380-1408). VDS-Verlagsdruckerei Schmidt GmbH, Neustadt an der Aisch 2005, ISBN 3-87707-639-4 , p. 188 ff.
  5. ^ KL Strauven, in: Geschichte des Schloss zu Düsseldorf , 1872, p. [17] 13.
  6. Axel Kolodjiej, p. 195
  7. ^ A b c d Karl Bernd Heppe: The Düsseldorf Cityscape I. 1585–1806. Düsseldorf 1983, (picture booklets of the Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf No. 4) p. 5
  8. Friedrich II .: Memories on the history of the House of Brandenburg , p. 34, digital version in the portal friedrich.uni-trier.de , accessed on January 26, 2013
  9. Annette Fimpeler-Philippen, Sonja Schürmann: The castle in Düsseldorf. Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1999, ISBN 3-7700-1120-1 , p. 46 f.
  10. ^ Karl Leopold Strauven : About artistic life and work in Düsseldorf to the Düsseldorf painter school under director Schadow . Hofbuchdruckerei H. Voss, Düsseldorf 1862, p. 13
  11. ^ A b Karl Bernd Heppe: The Düsseldorf cityscape I. 1585–1806. Düsseldorf 1983, (picture booklets of the Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf No. 4) p. 22
  12. ^ History of the city of Düsseldorf in twelve treatises. Festschrift for the 600th anniversary. Volume 3, Düsseldorfer Jahrbuch, Verlag Druck von C. Kraus, 1888, p. 374.
  13. ^ JF Wilhelmi: Panorama of Düsseldorf and its surroundings. , JHC Schreiner'sche Buchhandlung, Düsseldorf 1828, p. 53
  14. ^ Karl Bernd Heppe: The Düsseldorf cityscape I. 1585–1806. Düsseldorf 1983, (picture booklets of the Stadtmuseum Düsseldorf No. 4) p. 44
  15. Law Bulletin of the Grand Duchy of Berg, No. 16, 1811, pp. 282 ff., Published in: Wolfgang D. Sauer: Düsseldorf under French rule 1806–1815 - Capital of the Duchy of Berg and the General Government - collection of sources . In: Documentation on the history of the city of Düsseldorf (Pedagogical Institute of the State Capital Düsseldorf), Düsseldorf 1988, Volume 11, p. 47
  16. ^ Royal Palace, Düsseldorf. New extension, 2nd draft (1845) , architectural drawing (views of the castle tower and extension in neo-renaissance style) in the architekturmuseum.ub.tu-berlin.de portal , accessed on November 17, 2014
  17. Annette Fimpeler-Philippen, Sonja Schürmann, p. 74
  18. Photo: The Art Academy (castle) after the fire , photographer Leistenschneider, 1872 , City Museum of the State Capital Düsseldorf
  19. ^ Karl Woermann : On the history of the Düsseldorf Art Academy , Düsseldorf 1880, p. 9
  20. Annette Fimpeler-Philippen, Sonja Schürmann, p. 76 f.
  21. Quoted from: Annette Fimpeler-Philippen, Sonja Schürmann: Das Schloß in Düsseldorf. Droste Verlag, Düsseldorf 1999, ISBN 3-7700-1120-1 , p. 32

Coordinates: 51 ° 13 ′ 39 ″  N , 6 ° 46 ′ 16 ″  E