We spent our first afternoon in Germany making a visit to the Kaiserpfalz Ruins, and the town of Kaiserwerth. We will get back to Kaiserwerth later, but today I want to showcase the source of the town name, the Kaiserpfalz.
The name Kaiserpfalz actually means Imperial Palace, and thus, the palace of the Kaiser, which means Emperor. There were actually a number of Kaiserpfalz throughout central Europe, as they were also the centers of the Holy Roman Empire. Only two significant ruins still stand. If you are not up on complicated European history, I will give a quick brush up, and try not to bore you to death.
You may recall Roman Emperor Constantine was the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity, and this changed the course of Rome, and Catholicism, probably forever. Constantine would build a glorious residence in Byzantine, and move the capitol city there. This would stand as the capitol of the empire for centuries, and the Byzantine Empire would remain the political and religious power of eastern Europe for a thousand years. In the meantime, the western portion of what had been the Roman Empire would fall to territorial disputes, with no reigning leader.
Some 400 years later, Charlemagne the great would change that. Through politics and military, Charlemagne would unite large portions of western Europe. He also held the Christian faith. With sanctioning from the Pope, Charlemagne became the first Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, the empire of Western Europe, which was primarily based on maintaining unity and power of the Catholic church. While Charlemagne was French, subsequent emperors of the Holy Roman Empire would come from different portions of the empire, including Austria, Italy, and Germany.
It was Emperor Heinrich III who originally built a palace along the Rhine River where Kaiserpfalz stands, but it was Emperor Barbossa who would begin construction on the massive fortress that partially remains. Barbossa decided to move the Rheintoll, a gate collecting tolls from transport ships on the Rhine River, from a location in the southern Netherlands, to a location easier to secure. He needed a military fortress to enforce and protect the Rheintoll, and the land of the Empire.
Because of the Rheintoll, and the strategic location in northwest Germany, the Kaiserpfalz was a stronghold of military power. Over the years, several Emperors would visit the Kaiserpfalz, but none ever used the palace as a residence, not even Emperor Barbossa, who had it built.
After the eventual dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire in the early 19th century, the Kaiserpfalz became the property of the Catholic Diocese at Cologne, and went into disuse, and disrepair. In fact, throughout the 19th century, local citizens used it as a "stone quarry" of sorts, and took stones, as needed, for building purposes.
Eventually the diocese would give the Kaiserpfalz to the city of Kaiserwerth, and it became a part of the city heritage. It has been used for a number of purposes over the years, even as a shrine for the Hitler Youth preceding and during World War II. Today, it is used as an events venue and outdoor summer concerts are held in the courtyard. It is also used as a public park area, where locals and tourists can explore, learn a little history, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
That was a little more history than I intended!
See the gallery, for all of the pictures we took at Kaiserpfalz. You will find a great PIN there too! Kaiserpfalz- the Kaiser's Palace
The Kaiserpfalz is a beautiful structure, and you can get right next to it, or inside it. I enjoyed the visit there, despite the rain.
If you want to learn about the suburb built around Kaiserpfalz, check out this: Kaiserwerth- Emperors, Nurses, Saints and Stars
And, if you want to learn more about Kaiserpfalz, try these links: