Schloss Nordkirchen
Schloss Nordkirchen in the Gemeinde Nordkirchen
Nordkirchen is a municipality in the district of Coesfeld, in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Nordkirchen's most famous site is Schloss Nordkirchen, built in the 18th century for a local bishop and known as the Versailles of Westphalia, as it is the largest residence in that part of Germany...

 in Kreis Coesfeld
Coesfeld is the capital of the district of Coesfeld in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.-History:Coesfeld received its city rights in 1197, but was first recorded earlier than that in the biography of St. Ludger, patron and first bishop of the diocese of Munster who was born north of...

, Westphalia
Westphalia is a region in Germany, centred on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Dortmund, Minden and Münster.Westphalia is roughly the region between the rivers Rhine and Weser, located north and south of the Ruhr River. No exact definition of borders can be given, because the name "Westphalia"...

, Germany, built in 1703 to 1734, is known as the "Versailles of Westphalia
Palace of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles , or simply Versailles, is a royal château in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France. In French it is the Château de Versailles....

" as it is the largest of the partly moated Wasserschlösser in that region. It was originally one of the residences of the Prince-bishops of Munster.


The present Baroque
Baroque architecture
Baroque architecture is a term used to describe the building style of the Baroque era, begun in late sixteenth century Italy, that took the Roman vocabulary of Renaissance architecture and used it in a new rhetorical and theatrical fashion, often to express the triumph of the Catholic Church and...

Schloss is a German word for a building similar to a château, palace or manor house; or what in the British Isles would be known as a stately home...

is the successor of a true moated Wasserschloss built in the sixteenth century for the von Morrien. The present structure was raised on the site in several building campaigns for the Fürstbischof Friedrich Christian von Plettenberg zu Lenhausen and his successor Fürstbischof Ferdinand von Plettenberg
House of Plettenberg
The House of Plettenberg is a Westphalian noble family of the Uradel. It dates back at least to 1187, when Heidolphus de Plettenbrath was mentioned in a document by Philip I...

. It passed in 1833 to the Esterházy who alienated it to Duke Engelbert Marie von Arenberg in 1903. In 1933 the newly founded Arenberg-Nordkirchen GmbH assumed possession. From 1958 the schloss was the site of the business school Fachhochschule für Finanzen Nordrhein-Westfalen. It was purchased outright by Nordrhein-Westfalen in 1959, to which the neighboring Oranienburg and the park were subsequently added, as well as the southern area of deer park including a shelter belt of more than 1000 hectares of surrounding woodland, added in 2004.
Parts of the interior are open to the public, as are the parterre
A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern. Parterres need not have any flowers at all...

s and the surrounding park. The chapel may be rented for weddings.

Construction history

The architects responsible for the schloss and its complex of outbuildings were Gottfried Laurenz Pictorius, Peter Pictorius the Younger (from 1706) and Johann Conrad Schlaun, from 1724. The taller corps de logis
Corps de logis
Corps de logis is the architectural term which refers to the principal block of a large, usually classical, mansion or palace. It contains the principal rooms, state apartments and an entry. The grandest and finest rooms are often on the first floor above the ground level: this floor is the...

is flanked by symmetrical, lower wings, one of which containing the chapel, which preserve a rigorous symmetry and enclose the cour d'honneur
Cour d'Honneur
Cour d'Honneur is the architectural term for defining a three-sided courtyard, created when the main central block, or corps de logis, is flanked by symmetrical advancing secondary wings, containing minor rooms...

in a U-form. Dutch precedents, such as Het Loo
Het Loo
Het Loo Palace is a palace in Apeldoorn, Netherlands. The symmetrical Dutch Baroque building was designed by Jacob Roman and Johan van Swieten and was built between 1684 and 1686 for stadtholder-king William III and Mary II of England...

 near Apeldoorn, make their presence felt, but the sandstone facing is purely Westphalian.

Moat, parterres and park

The schloss stands on a rectangular island surrounded by a broad moat
A moat is a deep, broad ditch, either dry or filled with water, that surrounds a castle, other building or town, historically to provide it with a preliminary line of defence. In some places moats evolved into more extensive water defences, including natural or artificial lakes, dams and sluices...

-like canal
Canals are man-made channels for water. There are two types of canal:#Waterways: navigable transportation canals used for carrying ships and boats shipping goods and conveying people, further subdivided into two kinds:...

. At the island's four corners stand four small free-standing pavilions
Pavilion (structure)
In architecture a pavilion has two main meanings.-Free-standing structure:Pavilion may refer to a free-standing structure sited a short distance from a main residence, whose architecture makes it an object of pleasure. Large or small, there is usually a connection with relaxation and pleasure in...


The garden front gives onto a landscaped park of some 170 hectares, reached through a formal parterre
A parterre is a formal garden construction on a level surface consisting of planting beds, edged in stone or tightly clipped hedging, and gravel paths arranged to form a pleasing, usually symmetrical pattern. Parterres need not have any flowers at all...

 of scrolling broderie on axis, flanked by expanses of lawn. The gardens and the surrounded woods are peopled with a multitude of lifesize marble statues of which the first deliveries were made in 1721 from the Munich sculptor Johann Wilhelm Gröninger. Other sculptures were delivered by Panhoff and Charles Manskirch. Further sculptures were added during the restoration in neo-Baroque style, undertaken in 1903-07.

External links

Further reading

  • Stefan Buske: Schloss Nordkirchen. (DKV-Kunstführer 597), 3rd ed. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich/Berlin 2008. ISBN 978-3-422-02122-8.
  • Karl E. Mummenhoff: Schloß Nordkirchen (Westfälische Kunst), 2nd ed. Deutscher Kunstverlag, Munich/Berlin 1979. ISBN 3-422-00115-8.
  • Karl E. Mummenhoff: "Das Schloß Nordkirchen von 1918 bis 1976", Westfalen 56 (1978) pp 146–173.
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