Arnsberg Castle

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Salentin cultivation after Braun-Hogenberg around 1570
Today's condition with incorrectly Gothic reconstructed archways in the passage in the former west tower

The Arnsberg castle on the 256 m high Schlossberg in Arnsberg , North Rhine-Westphalia was the castle of the counts of Werl-Arnsberg probably created in the early 1100th After the relocation of the headquarters, it served the Counts of Arnsberg as their residence until 1368. With the transition of the county into the possession of the Cologne archbishops and later electors , it became the dominant center of the Duchy of Westphalia . This is where the electors resided during their visits, the Landdrost had his seat there as governor and some of the state parliaments also took place there. Elector Salentin von Isenburg had the castle redesigned in the Renaissance style around 1575 . Another renovation was carried out in 1654 under Maximilian Heinrich . The building underwent a fundamental redesign in the Baroque style from 1739 under Elector Clemens August by the builder Johann Conrad Schlaun . In 1762 the castle was destroyed in the Seven Years' War . Today the facility is in ruins .

Development and construction history

The development and construction history of the complex has only been more precisely traceable since the 16th century through artistic representations, plans and descriptions. Only a larger-scale archaeological investigation could provide information about the earlier construction phases.

Count castle

The early days of the plant are largely in the dark. Around 1060 Bernhard II built the so-called old castle, also called Rüdenburg , on a mountain at the confluence of the Walpke and Ruhr rivers. Between 1070 and 1080 Konrad II moved the seat of the Counts of Werl to Arnsberg. In the past, he was also assigned the construction of the Count's Castle on the mountain opposite the Rüdenburg. The year of origin was given as 1077. Today, the relocation of the Count's seat from Werl to Arnsberg is attributed to Count Friedrich the Arguable in around 1100.

In 1102 a castle in the area of ​​today's Arnsberg was destroyed by Archbishop Friedrich I of Cologne , as Count Friedrich sided with Emperor Heinrich IV during the investiture dispute . According to Leidinger, it was the Rüdenburg, not the count's castle as stated in the older literature.

Another destruction took place in 1166 under the rule of Count Heinrich I , whose murder of his brother triggered a expiatory campaign by Henry the Lion . A third destruction took place in 1366 during a feud between Count Gottfried IV and Count Engelbert III. from the mark . In both cases the castle was rebuilt.

Little is known about the appearance of the medieval castle. A main building with strong corner towers probably closed off the castle area to the south even then. The first evidence of a castle chapel dates back to 1114. The castle was the nucleus of the town of Arnsberg, which emerged from a small settlement of castle men and craftsmen. The castle itself was the center of residence and rulership of the county of Arnsberg. In two documents from the years 1259 and 1270 an aurea caminata (a golden bower) is mentioned, which speaks for a partly representative decoration. The new construction of a three-aisled chapel and the floor plan of the main tower are also indications of a magnificent complex.

Salentin building

Max Heinrich Building after Christoph Metzger 1669

After the county of Arnsberg was sold to Kurköln in 1368, the castle served as the residence of the Archbishops of Cologne when they visited the Duchy of Westphalia. During the Soest feud (1444–1449) the main base of the troops of Archbishop Dietrich von Moers was located there . In the following time building was little used and fell into disrepair.

Initially nothing changed in the structural condition. This only changed when, under Elector Salentin von Isenburg in 1575, a redesign was carried out. The basic defensive character, which was never completely lost in the following buildings, was retained. The redesign was limited to removing the roof and woodwork of the castle and further utilizing and integrating the walls for cost reasons. The plans for the conversion came from the builder Laurenz von Brachum . His son, who appears in the sources as Johannes von Arnsberg, was probably the one who actually carried out the construction. The builders of the Duke of Jülich and the Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel Hans Wezel were also consulted. At the time of Salentin's abdication, construction was not yet completed. Even under his successors Gebhard I. von Waldburg , Ernst von Bayern and Ferdinand von Bayern , the castle continued to be built.

Castle and town 1588

A map made around 1653 therefore shows, at least in part, the shape of the medieval castle. Coming from outside the city, a passage enabled access to the area of ​​the castle. Further up the hill was a gatehouse between the Vorwerk and battery fortifications. Passing further fortifications, the visitor passed a gate in the western tower and came into the courtyard of the castle complex. Except for one area in the east, this was almost entirely surrounded by buildings. In the west was the official seat of the Landdrosten, the representative of the sovereign in the Duchy of Westphalia. In the middle of the courtyard with a size of 130 × 60 m was the castle chapel, which was connected to the Landdrosten wing by a corridor. The keep , also known as the white tower, was directly connected to the chapel . This towered over the entire facility. The tower and chapel were still surrounded by a wall, into which a building of unknown purpose was added. In the northern part there were probably farm buildings. There was another small gate to the north, the gallows gate. This was followed by other buildings such as a brewery, a north-facing battery and the powder tower. In the east there were probably stables with stables and further south a slaughterhouse and well house. The fountain was built in the time of Salentin in 1576. It is driven 43 m deep into the rock of the Schlossberg. A short east wing leaned against the main building. This was located between the already mentioned west and an east tower. Both towers were four stories high. In front of the east tower was a fortification with another building that might have served as a guard house. The main building was architecturally representative redesigned. It contained a large ballroom (38 m × 19 m) on the first floor, the supporting structure of which - unusual at the time - was made of iron. The palace chapel in particular was splendidly decorated. Altogether, a contemporary inventory by the head waiter Hermann Dücker listed forty-nine rooms. This also included a palace library and a chamber for Jesuits.

Maximilian Heinrich Building

Basement of the main building. In the background remains of the east tower

In the decades that followed, the Thirty Years' War contributed to the decline of the complex, before it was first repaired and later redesigned under Elector Maximilian Heinrich from 1654. Immediately after taking office, he ordered the Wedinghausen and Rumbeck monasteries, which were obliged to do so, to restore the dilapidated water art . It is not entirely clear when the water art was originally created. It is unlikely that it goes back to Salentin's time, as the latter had the well deepened. Improvements to the defenses were also started at an early stage. The three gun batteries in front of the east and west towers, as well as in the north, were expanded with partially underground works.

The actual renovation work was directed by the Waldeck builder Hans Deger . He presented the first drafts in early 1661. After the elector requested changes, construction work began on the west tower. The middle section followed. About a year later the construction work was finished.

The two corner towers were expanded. The upper floors of the western tower each had six rooms. This included the electoral main room. Instead of wooden planks, this contained a floor made of delicate ashlar stones. Windows and doors have also been expanded. The other tower was redesigned in a similar way. In the area of ​​the main building, four rooms were separated from the large hall, which served as an antichambre, audience and cloakroom rooms. The floor was covered with stones. A gallery with eight habitable rooms with a fireplace and stove was built above the hall. There were five cross vaults under the floor with the hall. The kitchen, dispenser, wine cabinet, baking chamber, silver chamber and similar rooms were housed there.

The external appearance of the Salentin building hardly changed. In particular, the buildings north of the main building hardly changed anything. A distinction was made between a new and an old building. There were now 68 rooms in total. The electoral rooms were particularly splendid, with gilded leather wallpapers and silk coverings, among other things. the audience room and his confidante Franz Egon von Fürstenberg equipped. In order to be able to pursue his alchemical inclinations, the elector also had a laboratory and a pharmacy set up.

Even after the completion, there were still problems. The first renovation work was necessary as early as 1670. The White Tower, which dates back to the Middle Ages, was struck three times between 1660 and 1683. This caused considerable damage in some cases. In 1685/86 the tower was renovated. In the process, dilapidated adjacent buildings were torn down and design drafts were made for the now larger Schlossplatz. The upper floor of the adjoining palace chapel proved to be beyond saving. The resulting drawings show the only known floor plan of the tower and chapel. This had a flattened round choir and was provided with four pillars. Originally the chapel was two-story. One chapel was intended for the servants and the other for the lords of the castle. The upper floor was only profaned in the 16th century .

In the last years of Maximilian Heinrich's reign, further work on the castle was necessary to stop it from decaying. The situation under Joseph Clemens von Bayern is similar. Among other things, the White Tower continued to cause concern. In 1700 a tower in the main building was damaged by fire. There was also a fire in the castle in 1711. The ring wall and various outbuildings turned out to be increasingly dilapidated. After a few emergency measures, a thorough construction study was carried out in 1717 with the participation of the builder Lambert Friedrich Corfey . This results in massive damage. A correspondingly extensive and cost-intensive renovation was not carried out, however. The head waiter of the Duchy of Westphalia, Bernhard Adolf von Dücker, among others, drew attention to the poor state of construction in 1718. He pointed out that the winter weather had made the situation worse. The ceilings had rained through and fell off and the beams. He feared that the next state parliament might not take place in the palace. Around 1720, Landdrost Ferdinand Caspar von Droste and head waiter Bernd Adolf von Dücker made suggestions that outlined the core of the future development with the demolition of ailing buildings and the construction of a baroque three-wing complex. Another fire occurred in 1723.


Arnsberg Castle 1757 from the northeast

The successor, Clemens August von Bayern, therefore found a building that at least in parts resembled a ruin. As a result, Clemens August decided to restore it, which went hand in hand with a major redesign. A considerable part of the cost was borne by the estates . The first funds were granted under Joseph Clemens. In 1723 there was another approval of 10,000 thalers just for building the palace.

This took place from 1729/30 onwards by the important baroque architect Conrad von Schlaun . The work was probably completed in 1743 with the consecration of the palace chapel. Most of the side and outbuildings were demolished. This also included the old chapel, the keep and the Landdrosten wing. This created a large area north of the main building, which was enclosed with a simple wall. Only in the north-west did some ancillary buildings remain. The main structure with the two corner towers probably remained largely intact. The main building was about 36.30 m wide and 21.5 m deep. The lower floor consisted of a barrel vault with a height of 5.50 m, followed by a mezzanine floor with a cross vault at the same height. The great hall above was about 7.50 m high. With various false ceilings, you can reach a height of 20 m without a roof. The 16 × 16 m towers were given semicircular domes and were crowned by a roof lantern. The actual towers were 27 m high. With roof and lantern they were about 50 m high. Two side wings to the north were added to the main building. These were about 30 m long and 14 m wide. These wings had three floors above a basement in the courtyard area. The palace chapel was in the east wing. In total, the habitable area of ​​the castle, excluding the basement and attic, was 3500 m². The result was a representative, symmetrical, three-winged baroque complex . The entrance was from the courtyard side via a magnificent outside staircase. Schlaun's design drawings have been preserved from this.

The center of the castle was still the great hall with two large chimneys. There was enough space for a large procession to listen to a sermon. There were Venetian tapestries on the walls. Six large paintings with hunting scenes and fourteen portraits hung in the hall. Among them were the images of the last five Cologne electors, members of the House of Wittelsbach and Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian . The hall was lit by eleven large chandeliers and twenty-four wall sconces. It contained twelve table tables, a musicians table, and sixty armchairs. In addition to the pool table, the billiard room also contained several game tables. The electoral bedchamber had yellow silk damask wallpaper on the walls. The canopy was made of a similar material. There were inlaid tables, chests of drawers, a game table, and precious mirrors. There was also a writing cabinet and a bed room. There was a picture of Charlemagne in the dining room. There were also other rooms including an audience room and a cloakroom. The Westphalian State Cup was also kept there. The chapel, housed in a side wing, had four benches, an altar with an image of the Virgin and other portraits. In addition, there were rooms for the entourage, servants, various officials as well as kitchen and utility rooms, especially in the side wing.

During the Seven Years' War , the castle was set on fire and destroyed in 1762 .

“On the 16th, the city and the electoral palace were enclosed all around. On the 17th they set up their batteries, to which work they required all women to be found in the area. They finished it in one night; on the 18th they called on the lock again, and after the French commandant, Mr. Muret, unable or unwilling to consent to her request, the bombardment began on the morning of the 19th. It was continued with such anger that by noon 1200 bombs and over 2000 cannon shots were fired on the castle and the city. The commandant and his few garrisons put up the most gleeful and heroic resistance, and until this hour prevented the fire that had occasionally broken out from being able to devour, but then, when the enemies saw that the commandant could not be mastered, let go to put them on us with lots of glowing balls and carcasses of pitch, Schwegel and other explosive materials, which the brave garrison could endure for a whole hour. But since there was now no place in the whole castle that was not in bright flames, and the commandant could not sacrifice his loyal garrison to the fury of the flames, he finally surrendered on the 19th of the afternoon at 3 o'clock. The French garrison consisted of 200 men; which withdrew with all the war honors, and went via Wipperförde partly to Cöllen, partly to Dusseldorf. [...] The Hannoversche Herr Gen.-Lieut. Von Bock, on the other hand, moved into the place that was mostly covered by embers and ashes and saw that the houses that were still undamaged were looted. "

A penitentiary was later built from the stones elsewhere , which in Prussian times served as the seat of the district president and which today houses the Arnsberg administrative court .

The ruin in transition

Panorama shot in the castle courtyard

The castle itself has been in ruins since then. Among others, the Düsseldorf garden architect Maximilian Friedrich Weyhe redesigned the Schlossberg area from 1818-21 in the spirit of Romanticism into a landscape park. A little later, some of the ruins' original arches were rebuilt in Gothic style.

Vineyard below the ruin

The plans of the architect Engelbert Seibertz to build a Kaiser Wilhelm Tower with a restaurant and museum were prevented by the outbreak of the First World War. The area has recently undergone a major redesign. The overgrown walls were exposed, a large-scale memorial for war victims was relocated to another location and a circular path was laid out. In addition, below the ruins there is a vineyard based on historical models.

The priest and poet August Friedrich Georg Disselhoff is said to have composed the song Well goodbye, you my dear homeland on the Arnsberg castle ruins . A ruins festival has been taking place regularly for several years in order to secure the preservation of the ruins and increase the attractiveness of the complex.


  • Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013, pp. 69–94
  • Jens Friedhoff: Theiss Castle Guide Sauerland and Siegerland. 70 castles and palaces. Theiss, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-8062-1706-8 , p. 30f.
  • Uwe Haltaufderheide: The architectural monuments of the city of Arnsberg. Collection period 1980–1990. Der Stadtdirektor, Arnsberg 1990, ISBN 3-928394-01-0 , pp. 33-37.
  • Karl Féaux de Lacroix : History of Arnsberg. HR Stein-Verlag, Arnsberg 1895 (reprint: Stein, Werl 1983, ISBN 3-920980-05-0 ).
  • Bernhard Mommertz: The castle in Arnsberg: a brief description of its fate through 7 centuries. Arnsberg, 1917 digitized
  • Georg Joseph Rosenkranz: Siege and destruction of Arnsberg Castle in 1762 . In: Journal for patriotic history and antiquity . Volume 11, 1849, pp. 334-339.
  • Karl-Heinz Strothmann: History of the Grafenburg, the later electoral Cologne hunting lodge in Arnsberg In: Burgen und Schlösser - Journal for Castle Research and Monument Preservation Vol. 10 No. 2 (1969) pp. 45–49 Digitized
  • Karl-Heinz Strothmann: The hunting and pleasure palace of Elector Clemens August Arnsberg. Arnsberg, undated [around 1967]
  • Mark Rauschkolb: The electoral residence Arnsberg as a fortress - Archaeological investigations for the early modern fortification of the castle hill. In: Westphalia: Hefte für Geschichte, Kunst und Volkskunde Vol. 78/2002, pp. 221–236

Web links

Commons : Arnsberg Castle  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Destruction of Arnsberg Castle  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Paul Leidinger: The Counts of Werl and Werl-Arnsberg (approx. 980–1124): Genealogy and aspects of their political history in the Ottonian and Salian times. In: Harm Klueting (Ed.): The Duchy of Westphalia. Volume 1: The Electoral Cologne Duchy of Westphalia from the beginnings of Cologne rule in southern Westphalia to secularization in 1803. Aschendorff, Münster 2009, p. 150
  2. ^ Paul Leidinger: The Counts of Werl and Werl-Arnsberg (approx. 980–1124): Genealogy and aspects of their political history in the Ottonian and Salian times. In: Harm Klueting (Ed.): The Duchy of Westphalia. Volume 1: The Electoral Cologne Duchy of Westphalia from the beginnings of Cologne's rule in southern Westphalia to secularization in 1803. Aschendorff, Münster 2009, p. 156
  3. Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013 p. 72f.
  4. Michael Gosmann: From the castle to the pleasure palace. A floor plan of the Arnsberg Castle from 1653. In: Heimatblätter 3/1982, pp. 55–58
  5. Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013 p. 73
  6. Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013 p. 73f.
  7. Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013 p. 80
  8. Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013 p. 80f.
  9. Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013 p. 81f.
  10. Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013 pp. 84–86
  11. Horst Conrad: Notes on the building history of Arnsberg Castle. In: Südwestfalenarchiv 13/2013 p. 87
  12. ^ Extract from a contemporary newspaper report

Coordinates: 51 ° 24 ′ 4.5 ″  N , 8 ° 3 ′ 44 ″  E