Hulshoff Castle, or Burg Hulshoff, is another water castle, or Wasserschloss, located in Havixbeck in the Muenster area of Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany. The castle is one of those rare locations that is frequently visited by tourists, yet is still loved by locals, for some common reasons, and for some very different reasons.
Prior to our trip to Germany, I was not familiar with Hulshoff Castle. I knew there were many moated castles in the Muensterland area, and a couple, such as Vischering, I had on my list of places I hoped to see. If you have read the story on Vischering Castle, you know that our host planned an entire day for us to visit different water castles, which he called the day of the Wasserschloss. It was on this day, that I became acquainted with Hulshoff Castle.
Hulshoff Castle is known to be very old. Although a specific erection date does not seem to be common knowledge, it is in historic records as a house, as far back as the 11th century, so it was there before the year 1100. It seems it was built from the beginning to be surrounded by water, however, as said, it was primarily built as a home, and it was not until the 1540s, that it was extended and fortified to become a protective and defensive castle.
Again, like Vischering, this fortification and expansion was associated with the Droste. The castle was the seat of the Freiherren Droste In shortest terms, a Freiherr was basically a free Baron title of nobility appointed by the Holy Roman Emperor, and the Droste was a nobleman who performed stewardship to the local Catholic Bishop. The Droste to Hulshoff was one of the oldest noble positions in Muensterland.
Heinrich I von Droste Huelshoff ordered a number of different projects to increase the defensive capabilities of the castle, including adding a channel, or second moat, around the inner grounds. Some of the trenches and rows of trees that can still be seen as a part of the gardens, were originally added during the 30 Year War or in the early 1600s.
During this time frame, other construction on the castle home, and outbuildings were made as well. While the chapel and the manicured floral gardens were added in later centuries, the main castle and grounds appear very much as they have since the changes of the 16th and 17th centuries.
This back history of Hulshoff Castle seems to be less commonly known, or at least harder to find, than that of some other castles. What is commonly spoken of as the castle history is also largely intertwined with it's famed former resident, the Poet Annette von Droste-Huelshoff. She is one of Germany's most important poets, and perhaps, it's finest female poet. Her work has been beloved among more affluent society for two centuries. She was born, and spent her childhood, in Hulshoff Castle.
Her fame in Germany is widespread, and she was among the rare women featured on German currency, before the country became a part of the european Union and began using the Euro.
Her childhood in the castle, and it's impact on her writings, have become a prominent aspects in relaying the story of the castle, than it's prior history.
Visitors to Castle Hulshoff today can visit a museum on the life of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, and get a good taste of the aristocratic lifestyle of prior centuries.
The grounds surrounding the castle now compose a large and beautiful public park and gardens, and a wildlife refuge. These grounds are free for public use, and residents from as far as Muenster often come to walk. It is common to see picnics, and low key outdoor activities such as kites or Frisbee, across the open areas.
It was walking and relaxing on this stunning parkland, reminiscing with my dear friend Kathrin, who I had not seen for 30 years, that I made the final decision to start Gypsy With a Day Job. Being together again, on this gorgeous afternoon and in this amazing location was a moment of such joy; a knowing that I was where I was meant to be, coupled with a deep understanding that I had come only a breath away from never having it.
Kathrin and I discussed this as we walked, and all that we had experienced, and promises we had made. In that moment I believed I could truly help others understand how important it was to follow their path, to see the world, to go forward leaving no regrets behind. She encouraged me to try.
It was then that for the first time I began taking photos with the intent of inspiring others, and of helping them to understand an experience.
When walking the castle grounds, the view is lovely and peaceful from almost every point of view. It seems reminiscent of historic pastoral lands. There is a tree lined avenue in back of the estate, which leads to a small tea house. Upon first sight, this avenue calls to you to walk it's cool shady length.
Also within the castle is a museum mentioned above, explaining the life, works and times of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff, A tour takes about 40 minutes, and comes with an audio guide available in German, English, and Dutch. A written guide is also available in French. All outdoor areas, including the personal facilities, are wheelchair accessible.
There are many castles in the Muensterland area of Germany, each with it's unique style and history. Hulshoff Castle can be an all day destination from Muenster, a place to get outdoors in the sunshine in idyllic surroundings, with a cafe available for lunch. It can also be part of a castle "route" in the Muenster area, for a tourist to get a unique perspective on how different the structures and styles of different castles in a small geographic area can be.
Whichever way you opt, if you are in the area, Hulshoff Castle is a beautiful and interesting visit, and one that will generally not be overcrowded with tourists.
See our full gallery of over 40 beautiful photos Walking the Grounds of Hulshoff Castle.
If you are interested in seeing some of the other castles we visited in Germany, try one of these: Burg Vischering Gallery, Hohenzollern Castle Gallery, A Trip to Kaiserpfalz Ruins.
If you would like to read more about my reunion with Kathrin, and meeting some of my new German friends, check out this article: First Night in Germany and the Meerstein Express.
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