It is said that the old Burg Castle has two great stories ...
... and thousands of small ones! The first major story is that the castle looks back over a very turbulent history closely connected to the rise of the Duchy of Berg. The Counts of Berg emerged in 1101 as a junior line of the dynasty of the Ezzonen. In the 11th century the Counts of Berg became the most powerful dynasty in the region of the lower Rhine, and for this reason the early rulers of Berg built a castle in the heart of their area of influence.
The castle is enthroned on a hill overlooking the River Wupper. The site was tailor-made for a secure seat of mediaeval Baronial power. Work on the castle started around 1130 and from then on the Dukes of Berg lived here for several centuries, all the while constantly enlarging their sphere of influence.
It is also said that by the end of the fifteenth century their successors ruled over huge areas of what is now North Rhine Westphalia! Later they moved their seat of power to Düsseldorf and Burg Castle declined in significance. Certainly, the castle was abandoned and the buildings began to crumble. From the middle of the 19th century they were utterly cannibalised and then the old castle fell to ruin. And here begins the second great story. The castle was reconstructed once again thanks to local initiative and financial help. The citizens wanted to restore the symbol of the region! Hence they set up a so-called »Castle Construction Association« and began to collect money. Reconstruction work was mostly completed by 1919. Today Burg Castle is of great historic, cultural and architectural significance.
Idealized view of Burg Castle in 1933.
... impressive story on the margins of great historical events
In one of the small stories it is said that when the Count Engelbert II was killed in an ambush organised by his nephew, Friedrich von Isenburger, his horse returned alone from the battlefield and swam across the Wupper to get home. The riderless horse signaled to the people that their count had fallen in battle. The horse would not leave the castle and remained there until it died.
Count Engelbert II and his finest horse - mural relief.
The Family seat of the Counts of Berg from 12TH – 14TH CENTURY
About 1130 the construction of Neuenberge Fortress (later Schloss Burg Castle) by Count Adolf I. of Berg and his son Count Adolf II. of Berg as the new family seat and focal point for the region of the lower Rhine.
In 1218 Adolf III. dies during the 5th Crusade in Egypt. His brother Engelbert, Archbishop of Cologne takes over the County of Berg – seemingly illegally. As Engelbert II., Count of Berg and Archbishop, he extends Neuenberge Fortress and converts it into a major courtly seat for representative ends. It now includes a Great Hall with a Knights Hall, a bower (living chamber) and a castle chapel, double walls, towers and gates. In 1225 he is murdered in an ambush organised by his nephew, Friedrich von Isenburg.
Since Duke Engelbert II. has no male successors Heinrich von Limburg, who is married to Engelbert’s niece Irmgard, becomes the next Count of Berg. As a result the twin tailed Limburg Lion becomes the new heraldic animal in the Bergisch coat of arms.
Count Adolf II. of Berg – mural relief in the Gallery of Ancestors.
One of the most famous battles of the middle ages
The Battle of Worringen started in 1288, one of the largest medieval battle in north-west Europe. Count Adolf V. of Berg is one of the victors in the battle. He is given the privilege of imprisoning the most important loser, the Archbishop of Cologne, in Neuenberge Fortress. Shortly afterwards he sets up Düsseldorf on the Rhine.
Finally, due to a lack of successors the territory of Berg is handed over to the Counts of the house of Jülich in 1348.
The Battle of Worringen 1288 - mural painting in the Knights Hall.
Usage as a hunting lodge and for courtly festivities from 14th – 16th Century
Following the introduction of new war techniques fortresses become useless for defence purposes. After the Counts of Jülich-Berg are raised to the status of Dukes in 1380, Düsseldorf becomes the new royal seat of the Duchy of Berg. In 1408 the last ruler to reside in Neuenberge Fortress dies.
During the fourteenth and fifteenth century Neuenberge Fortress is used for important festivities and as a hunting lodge. As a result it is gradually converted and extended into a site for courtly festivities. Thus the fortress becomes a castle and increasingly decreases in significance for the Dukes of Berg.
Hunting Party – The mural painting show scenes of courtly life.
Further uses until it falls into ruins
About 1618 Schloss Burg Castle is captured by enemy troops during the Thirty Years’ War. Henceforth it is used, amongst others, as a warehouse for Swedish and Hessian troops. Imperial troops take over Schloss Burg Castle in 1641. When the Imperial troops withdraw at the end of the war they destroy all the defensive parts of the castle, including the walls, gates, and keep. From now on it is used solely as an administrative seat.
In 1806 the Duchy of Berg falls to the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. After the administrative reforms are introduced by Napoleon I. in 1807, the last administrative civil servants are withdrawn from Schloss Burg Castle. Thus the site is deprived of all its administrative functions.
1815 The Duchy of Berg falls to Prussia and Schloss Burg Castle is handed into Prussian state ownership. Since it has no use for the building it is now used purely for commercial purposes – as a blanket factory, a horse driven mill and a school.
The Prussian state demolishes the roof of Schloss Burg Castle. The building material is used for building the regional courthouse in Elberfeld. Schloss Burg Castle is now used solely as a stone quarry and is allowed to fall into ruin.
During the 20th century the ruins of Burg Castle were a popular destination.
Reconstruction and Foundation of the Castle Construction Association
In 1887 Julius Schumacher founded an association to preserve the castle ruins near Burg on the Wupper – later known as the Castle Construction Association Burg. About 1890 the reconstruction of Schloss Burg Castle started in several stages, mostly financed by donations and lottery money. Clubs and societies in the whole of the Bergisch Land organise special events including concerts and bazaars, the income from which is donated to the reconstruction.
In 1894 the completion of the Great Hall is followed by the setting up of the Bergisch Museum in Schloss Burg Castle. After a modest start the collection quickly grows as a result of donations and active collecting activities. The Museum is now able to display weapons and armour, paintings, crafts, furniture, coins and printed matter from the Middle Ages and early modern period.
1919 most of the essential reconstruction is completed and Schloss Burg Castle develops into a real tourist attraction, but unfortunately a fire in the castle roof almost completely destroys the Bergisch Museum in 1920. Work on clearing up the damage lasts until 1923.
This is the fabulous story behind this lovely, majestic and appropriately named castle Schloss Burg...
A great journey comes to an end yet, but Indy was sure it wouldn't be his last.
And last but not least I would like to mention that...
We do not follow maps to buried treasure and 'X' never, ever marks the spot.
Schloss Burg Castle Plan and surrounding terrain.