Castle of the Week 96 – Stolzenfels
Not far from the German city of Koblenz, Schloss Stolzenfels stands on a steep mountain spur overlooking the Rhine and the delta of the Lahn, one of the best-known castles of the Rhine Valley.
A small fortress was first built in the mid 13th century by Archbishop Arnold of Isenburg to collect illegal tolls from boats sailing up the Rhine. This practice continued until 1412. At the end of the 14th century, the castle was extended as the Archbishops of Trier were using it as their home.
In 1632 the castle was occupied by Sweden. Two years later and, again, in 1646, the French took it and, in each case, held it for two years. In 1689 most of the medieval castle was burnt down by the French during the siege of Koblenz in the Palatinate War of Succession.
In 1815, Napoleon’s troops left the castle and the city of Koblenz gave the ruin to Kronprinz Friedrich Wilhelm, heir to the Prussian throne, in the hopes that it would foster a good relationship between the city and the monarchy. He didn’t accept the gift until 1823 but, once he did, he considered how best to rebuild it. He started with the approach road and the gardens then, in 1836, began the rebuilding of the castle itself.
It was designed by a well-known architect, Schinkel, who left the few medieval buildings still standing and designed the new castle round them. The castle is reached by a winding path through gardens with waterfalls and aquaducts, wooded ravines and bridges. The gatehouse is medieval and leads into an Italian style courtyard. On the left is the five-sided keep built in 1250 and, on the right, the residential tower built in 1370 and the new buildings, built in a neo-Gothic style. The whole thing is painted a yellow ochre colour. From the walls there are magnificent views of the Rhine valley.
It was finished in 1842 and the crown prince, now King, made it his summer residence, celebrating its completion with a torch-lit procession of people wearing historical costumes.
The castle can still be visited and is a museum of items from its long history. There’s a collection of historic weapons and another of early German ceramics. They are situated in the remarkable vaulted knight’s hall which was modelled on the refectory of Marienburg castle.
Write-up provided by GillB.