What’s it like to visit Schloss Burg in Solingen?
Which little boy or girl doesn’t like to play knight and princess? The name “Schloss Burg” is an oxymoron, for in German, “Schloss” refers to a representative building (castle) and “Burg” to a fortification (fortress). This building has been remodeled many times and is still under renovation (said to be completed in 2025), but if you want to climb a high stone tower (“Bergfried”) and walk around the walls and even see a medieval toilet, come visit this peculiar place in the Bergisches Land.
Schloss Burg was first built by Count Adolf II. of Berg in 1130, housing the Dukes of Berg for a few centuries, who continuously expanded their realm of influence. In the late 15th century, their heirs ruled over vast lands belonging to North-Rhine Westphalia. Only when their seat of power got moved to Düsseldorf, the importance of Burg Castle began to decline and the fortress began to crumble. Yet, the citizens of Solingen set up an association to fundraise and reconstruct their castle, and this work was mostly completed by 1919. Some work is still going on today, hence all the scaffolding.
Grandma, Leander, and mommy got put into a medieval torturing device:
In 1218, Adolf III. died during the 5th Crusade in Egypt, causing his influential brother Engelbert, Archbishop of Cologne, to take over the County of Berg, who himself was murdered by his nephew Friedrich von Isenburg in an ambush in 1225. As Archbishop and Duke Engelbert II., who was later pronounced a Saint, had no male successors, the next Count of Berg became Heinrich von Limburg, the husband of his niece Irmgard — since then, the twin-tailed Limburg Lion has become part of the Bergisch coat of arms as new heraldic animal.
In each hall of the castle, one could watch brief historical movies about the killing of Engelbert and other gruesome events. They were cartoonish but sure contained lots of blood spatter (suitable for kids of age 6+). For example, the movie described how Engelbert’s murderer was executed on the breaking wheel. By the way, the German proverb, “sich gerädert fühlen, “to feel wheeled”, refers back to this medieval means of torture and means to feel completely exhausted. In order to start the movies, one had to pull on certain weapons, for example on the red handle of a blue sword that stuck in a wooden box.
Here, Lyons Cub looks into a fireplace and tries out a saddle on a wooden horse:
Some more history:
In 1288, the largest mediaeval battle in north-west Europe took place, the Battle of Worringen, where Count Adolf V. of Berg emerged as one of the victors. He imprisoned the most important loser, the Archbishop of Cologne, in Neuenberge Fortress. Shortly afterwards he founded the city of Düsseldorf on the Rhine River. From 1380 onwards, Düsseldorf became the new seat of the Duchy of Berg, because new war techniques made Schloss Burg obsolete as a fortress for defense purposes.
In 1496, a child betrothal took place at Schloss Burg Castle: Five-year-old Maria von Jülich-Berg was promised to six-year-old Johann von Kleve-Mark, and in 1521, the United Duchies were created from the merger of the houses of Jülich-Berg and Kleve-Mark, covering vast areas of today’s North-Rhine Westphalia.
Here, Lyons Cub and grandma are looking through one of the loopholes in the fortress wall:
We walked around the walls of Schloss Burg and enjoyed the view of the other cities (Essen, Dortmund, Werden, Altena, etc.) in the distance.
Warning: This castle is not accessible for strollers and wheelchairs, and the long, worn-out staircases were a big no-no for people with stair-climbing problems!! You could feel how centuries of people had trodden on these steps, because they were lower in the middle.
When you finally arrive at the top of the castle, you enter a big room with thick, wooden beams at the ceiling and further artifacts, where a big, digital disk tells historical facts.
Leander loved the models of Schloss Burg (with the tiny people in them) as well as the armor, the falcon, and the weapons.
Outside of the tower and fortress, there are some artisan shops with a lady who is spinning and others displaying soaps, candles, pottery, and other works of art. The cutest thing was a little pottery dragon with flames coming out of its nostrils:
The best thing of all, according to my son, was the playground, which looked like a castle and offered different activities.
If you and your kids like medieval things (and climbing lots of stairs), this would be a perfect destination for a family excursion 🙂