This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
Schloss Ahrensburg is a palace in southern Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, a short drive from the city of Hamburg. Ahrensburg is a relic of a quickly passing architectural fad known as Mehrfachhaus, a Renaissance-styled rectangular mansion design with extra floors added.
The original structure was built in 1585 at the initiative of Peter Rantzau, advisor to Danish King Friedrich II. It was built in an artificial lake, giving the mansion a moat that denoted a castle-like appearance. Dual turrets added to the original design during construction further contributed to the defensive fortress appearance. In reality, the structure was never under threat of siege, and served as Rantzau’s personal residence.
Ahrensburg remained with the Rantzau family for seven generations until they were forced to sell it in 1759 to Heinrich Carl von Schimmelmann, a merchant from Hamburg who transformed the interior of the castle into a late-Baroque court.
From 1759 to 1778, Ahrensburg served as Schimmelmann’s summer residence and remained his family’s main seat in the 19th century until the Great Depression forced the family to sell the castle in 1932.
The Schloss Ahrensburg Society, founded by the state, the local savings bank and the town of Ahrensburg, took over maintaining the property soon after, and a museum was moved into the structure in 1938.
The castle and its museum are open to the public, and it is also available to reserve for weddings, concerts and other events.
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