The Schönburg – Castles of Germany (21/?)
Cochem Castel, Germany (Europe) | ©Manuel Dietrich
All Saints’ Church is located in Wittenberg, Germany. The first chapel on this site was built in 1340 and consecrated in 1346. The church was considered Wittenberg’s main church by Pope Boniface IX in 1400. There was an old Ascanian Castle on the site, but it was demolished to make room for a new Gothic structure in 1490-1511. The church, built into the castle, is a long basilica with an eastern apse encompassing the north wing of the three-winged complex. The tower of the church stands over the fortress-like estate. The church served as residences for the dukes of Saxe-Wittenberg as well as serving as the University of Wittenberg. The chapel and university developed into an important academic and worship center. All Saints’ Church houses the preserved tombs of reformers Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon, as well as the dukes of Saxe-Wittenberg. All Saints’ Church is world-famous for being the site where Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-five Theses to the main door on October 31, 1517. Luther’s theses attacked papal abuses and the sale of indulgences. In 1520, Pope Leo X declared Luther’s theses to be heretical and he was excommunicated. In 1883, the church was restored in the Neo-Gothic style. A Lutheran Church was established on the site in 1949. In 1983, a series of 12 stained glass windows were installed, each honoring a student of Luther. Today, the structure still serves as a place of worship. It also houses the town’s historical archives, the Riemer Museum, and a youth hostel.
The Eltz family lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago, and still does. About 100 members of the owners’ families lived in the over 100 rooms of the castle. It is a Ganerbenburg, or castle belonging to a community of joint heirs. It is divided into several parts, which belong to different branches of a family. In the case of Eltz, the family comprised three branches and the existing castle comprises three separate complexes of buildings The Rübenach and Rodendorf families’ homes in the castle are now open to the public, while the Kempenich branch of the family uses the other third of the castle. The main part of the castle consists of the family portions with up to eight stories and with eight towers reaching heights of between 30 and 40 meters.
This is as close as reality gets to Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast
Schloss Drachenburg is a private villa in palace style constructed in the late 19th century. It was completed in only two years (1882–84) on the Drachenfels hill. Baron Stephan von Sarter, a broker and banker, planned to live there, but never did. Today the Palace is now in the possession of the State Foundation of North Rhine-Westphalia.
Vischering Castle consists of an outer courtyard, defensive gateways, moat, drawbridge, main building and chapel. Vischering Castle was built by Bischop Gerhard von der Mark to counter one built nearby by the von Lüdinghausen family. Vischering Castle became the seat of the Droste zu Vischering Family. The castle keep is now missing, having been removed during Renaissance renovations.
Rabenstein Castle is a former high medieval aristocratic spur castle built between 1175 and 1200. During the Thirty Years’ War, the castle was destroyed by imperial troops, because its lord, Hans Christoph of Rabenstein, had aligned himself with the Swedes. After the war between 1648 and 1728 a few small buildings and a farm were re-established. In 1742 the von Rabensteins died out and the castle passed to the counts of Schönborn-Wiesentheid, who revamped the ruins in 1829/30 for a royal visit by Ludwig I.
The castle consists of buildings constructed between the twelfth and the seventeenth century. The twelfth century keep is the oldest part. The castle was never taken, or raised, or slighted (unlike almost all other Rhine castles).