Cochem Imperial Castle
Cochem Imperial Castle stands on a hilltop overlooking the River Moselle and is the town’s landmark. It was probably built at the beginning of the 12th century as a medieval customs castle. Extensive reconstruction work probably took place in the 14th to 16th centuries. In the 17th century the castle was destroyed down to its foundation walls. Before the new building was erected in the 19th century, evidence was found of an octagonal tower, a curtain wall, dwelling houses, outbuildings and three gateways of the former castle.
The first lord of the castle was Count Palatine of Ballenstedt. When there was a dispute over his succession after his death, King Konrad III conquered the castle. He made it the administrative seat for the surrounding imperial estate. Since then, the castle has been called an imperial castle. Imperial castles were castles of the Roman-German elective kings. They belonged to the king’s realm, but not to his estate. After the king’s death, it was not his kinsmen who inherited the castle, but the next elected king.
In the 13th century, the castle complex was pledged to the Archbishop of Trier. This gave him jurisdiction and a secure source of income through the Moselle customs duty. In the 17th century, during the Palatinate War of Succession, the castle was shot at, conquered, set on fire and blown up by troops of the French king. The estates were in French possession until the Congress of Vienna in 1815, after which they were ceded to Prussia. The Berlin merchant Ravené acquired the lands and had a new building constructed on the ground plan of the former castle. This new building corresponded to the taste of 19th century castle romanticism. Neo-Gothic elements were added in the period of Historicism.
In 1942, Cochem Castle was turned over to the Ministry of Justice, which used it as a training centre from 1943. During this time, works of art such as the mosaic painting of St. Christopher from 1870 disappeared or were destroyed. In 1947, the state of Rhineland-Palatinate established an administrative school at the castle. Since 1978, the castle has been owned by the town of Cochem. Today there are rooms for events and celebrations as well as a castle museum. The castle is considered to be protected cultural property according to the Hague Convention and is on the State Monument List of Rhineland-Palatinate.