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No one has to be descended from nobility to feel like they're at court here. We present four of the many princely residences in North Rhine-Westphalia that invite you to take a stroll.


Baroque beauty spot: Nordkirchen moated castle

In the north of Nordkirchen Castle lies Venus Island, the neo-baroque gem of the complex. The famous French gardener garden artist Achille Duchene was responsible for the island garden and the sculptures © Photo Oliver Franke, Tourismus NRW e.V.

What a spectacle: 1719 shines over Nordkirchen Castle the first private fireworks display; there had never been anything like it in Westphalia until then! Make do, not spill - that was also the motto in the more than three decades it took to create this baroque residence. Unesco has declared it a "total work of art of international standing.

Whoever wants to visit the city, which is located about 30 kilometers south of Münster When you visit the moated castle, you pass through three gates flanked by lion sculptures holding coats of arms of the former owner families Plettenberg and Westerholt-Lembeck. The interiors, which you can visit on a guided tour, have been preserved largely true to the original: with costly stuccowork, ceiling paintings, wood carvings, busts and chandeliers. A real gem is the Chapel of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, where wedding ceremonies still take place today. And the castle park? A single beauty spot on 172 hectares, with avenues and axes, flower beds, fountains and box hedges. Westphalia greets Versailles.

You can find more information about Schloss Nordkirchen here: Nordkirchen Castle: the Westphalian Versailles

And this is how you get to Nordkirchen Castle by bus and train: Plan arrival.


Romantic setting: Drachenburg Castle

Was it a damsel of the castle to whom Baron Stephan von Sarter dedicated this Rapunzel-like ensemble in 1882? It remains a mystery, but the fairy-tale setting is made for a romantic excursion to Königswinter to Castle Drachenburg. The ride up to the most famous peak of the Siebengebirge, the Drachenfels, is enough to make your heart skip a beat: Germany's oldest cogwheel train from 1883 chauffeurs you toward the pink clouds. Get off at the midway station, where the neo-Gothic complex is enthroned with a spacious park and secluded (picnic) spots. Welcomed by two golden stags, you enter the castle and take a look behind the old walls on a two-hour guided tour. Passing ornate wall and glass paintings, you'll head to the terrace with a view of the Rhine: the densely wooded Siebengebirge and even Cologne Cathedral can be seen in the distance. The panorama is even more impressive at the top of the Drachenfelsplateau, where you can fortify yourself in the glass bistro for the one-hour walk back down into the valley.

You can find more information about Schloss Drachenburg here: Drachenburg Castle: An eventful history

And this is how you get to Königswinter by train: Plan arrival.


Prominent parquet: Augustusburg Castle

Whether Nelson Mandela, Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev or Queen Elisabeth II - they have all been guests on Augustusburg Castlethe celebrity among Germany's magnificent buildings. For around 50 years, the building in Brühl near Cologne The world cultural heritage site was used as a prestigious venue for state receptions of the young Federal Republic of Germany. The grand staircase of the former summer residence of Cologne's Elector and Archbishop Clemens August provided the festive setting - and was a catwalk for the haute volee. The park, with its fountain pools, mirrored ponds, linden avenues and hedge quarters, is as opulent, lavish and elegant as the design by the Baroque and Rococo master Balthasar Neumann. Garden stars such as Dominique Girard and later Peter Joseph Lenné lent a hand here. After a short walk, you will reach Falkenlust Palace, which is located on the edge of a secluded grove and was built by Elector Clemens August for his falconry. Worth seeing are the lavishly furnished cabinets, which the young Mozart already admired in 1763. Here you can take a 360° tour of Augustusburg Castle.

And this is how you get to Brühl by train: Plan arrival.


Urban jewel: Benrath Castle

Benrath Palace was built in 1770 by Elector Carl Theodor von Pfalz-Sulzbach as a hunting and pleasure palace, but apparently the man had overestimated his powers: he reportedly visited the palace - about 12 kilometers from the center of Düsseldorf - only once. According to WDR, the castle park is the most popular park in the entire state © Düsseldorf Marketing & Tourismus GmbH

Although only 15 minutes by car from Düsseldorf's center, there is a world of difference between the city and Benrath CastleThere the hustle and bustle of Kö & Co., there nothing but peace, space and water. Swans draw with aristocratic attitude their courses in the lake, in which the pastel red facade of the 1775 built by order of the Elector Karl Theodor of the Palatinate is reflected. It is an oasis, with an extensive forest park that almost reaches the banks of the nearby Rhine. Behind the palace ensemble, which is as harmonious as it is cleverly conceived, with cavalier buildings, gardens and avenues, ponds and canals, is master builder Nicolas de Pigage. He assigned each room in the interior a green space in the exterior. Thus, the English garden with rare trees refers to the private area of the Elector; the French arrangement with water features and flower borders is taken up by the interior of his wife's rooms. Today, the east wing houses the "Museum of European Garden Art", the west wing the "Museum of Natural History".

And this is how you get to Benrath Palace by train: Plan arrival.

Cover photo: The baroque moated castle of Nordkirchen in Münsterland is also known as "The Westphalian Versailles. However, it was not founded by a perfumed Sun King, but by the good Gerhard III von Morrien, back at the beginning of the 16th century © Oliver Franke, Tourismus NRW e.V.

More articles from North Rhine-Westphalia

In collaboration with Tourism NRW e.V.

Reasons for a Vacation in North Rhine-Westphalia there are plenty - the living Cities, the old Castles and palaces and the unique Nature are just a few of them.


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