Castle of the Week 102 – Cochem Castle
Once again we travel into Germany, this time down the Mosel river, a tributary of the Rhine, as we explore the beautiful Castle Cochem. It is a breathtaking sight as you approach Cochem on the meandering Mosel river as it winds from Koblenz to Trier. Once used as a royal residence it now keeps watch 100 meters above the river, over vineyards and the picturesque town of Cochem.
Cochem Castle was first mentioned in 1051, when the former Queen of Poland, Richeza gave the castle to her nephew; Count Palatine Henry I. It is assumed though that the castle had been built around 1000 by Count Palatine Ezzo. Its Romanesque keep is a 17 ft by 17 ft square, with walls that measured up to 12 ft thick. From fragments found in the well it is thought that the castle was reinforced around 1056 and the keep made higher at that time.
In 1156 King Konrad III sent troops to occupy the castle to settle the dispute of succession. The castle became an Imperial fiefdom with his occupation. Imperial ministers became the administrators of the castle and its surrounding holdings.
The castle was used as collateral in 1294, along with the city of Cochem and 50 some villages that were Imperial properties, to fund the coronation of King Adolf of Nassau as he was crowned German Emperor. The holder of the castle became Boemund I of Trier . The Emperor never made good on his debt so the castle passed into the care of the Archbishops of Trier. They kept it as a fiefdom till 1794.
Fortifications and enlargement of the castle took place during the reign of Archbishop Balduin. 1307-1354. He also constructed massive walls that connected the castle to the town. It was noted that a chain was used as a toll barrier across the river. By 1419 the rule of the castle had been taken over by local magistrates.
In 1688, King Louis XIV of France; during his invasion of the Rhine and the Moselle, swept in and captured Cochem Castle. His troops completely occupied the area and on May 19, 1689 they destroyed Cochem castle by setting it afire, undermining it and blowing it apart. Not satisfied with just the castle the town of Cochem was almost destroyed also.
The castle silently slumbered in ruin until it was resurrected in the year 1868. Louis Ravené, a rich merchant from Berlin bought the ruins for 300 gold marks to use as a summer residence for the next 75 years. He rebuilt the castle by incorporating the Gothic ruins into the new castle construction. What you see today is a faithful rendering of the original plans. Cochem was rebuilt in the Neo-Gothic style; according to the fashion of the era. Elegant rooms filled with Renaissance and Baroque furniture collected by the Ravené family still fill the castle. The mosaic on the keep was also added by the family. In 1942 the Ravené family was forced to sell the castle to the German government.
In 1978 it became the property of the town of Cochem and is now run by “Reichsburg Cochem Ltd.” Vinyards climb the hill towards the castle providing the grapes for the wines of the region. The castle has become a popular tourist attraction, wine festivals in Cochem draw many to the region and the castle which can be visited by guided tour.
Write-up provided by Lady Arcola.
A special thank you to Burgenwelt for the continued use of their pictures.