Along the Rhine, there are many old castles tucked away into the hillsides. Some of these have been converted into hotels and restaurants and their picturesque locales provide a relaxed ambience for any holiday maker. One such is Hotel Godesburg which sits atop of the highest hill in Godesberg, at a height of 400 feet above the Rhine. It is cleverly built around the ruins of an ancient castle and gives a panoramic view of the surrounding cities.
The hotel has an interesting history. It was built in 2010 by Dietrich Hengebach, Archbishop of Cologne, to ensure control of the Rhine at its southern boundary. The castle was so well fortified that it withstood sieges for 400 years. Documents pertaining to the 10th century suggest that this was an old volcanic cult site for a religious group and was called Wotan’s Castle.
Dietrich I began to build this castle in 1210, but he died in 1224. His successors completed it. It became the symbol of dual power of the Archbishops of Cologne and the Prince Electors. The Electors’ valuables and archives were kept here. Up till mid-16th century, this was the Elector’s seat.
When Archbishop Gebhard Truchsess von Waldenburg converted to Protestantism in1579 and married Canoness Agnes of Mansfield- Eisleben a protestant, he was excommunicated by the Pope in 1583. A new bishop was appointed, but Bishop Gebhard refused to relinquish office. This sparked off the War of Cologne. The new bishop hired 5000 mercenaries to take possession of the castle. It was an impregnable fortress and the Catholic troops had to tunnel into the base of the mountain and detonate 1500 pounds (680 kgs) of dynamite. In 1891, Emperor Wilhelm II donated the ruined castle to the city of Bad Godesberg.
In 1959, the castle was rebuilt as a hotel and restaurant on the remains of the walls. It was open to the public in 2003, and is now a popular venue for public functions. An old tower looms into the skies in the centre of the complex. The top of the tower can be reached by 156 steps, but an entrance fee has to be paid. This was once a prison for the Archbishop’s and Elector’s prisoners. The restaurant spaces are artistically done up. A lift brings visitors from ground level to the top. This is a lovely place to spend an evening.
By Eva Bell