January 11, 2012

0095 GERMANY (North Rhine-Westphalia) - Sparrenburg, the castle from the Teutoburg Forest

Located about 60 km southeast for the place of the famous battle in which Arminius massacred 2,000 years ago three Roman legions, in the territories held in the 8th century by Widukind, one of the most formidable opponents of Charlemagne, Bielefeld (the hilly field) was founded in 1215 by Count Hermann IV of Ravensberg to guard a pass crossing the dark Teutoburg Forest (until the 19th century named Osning). To serve intended purpose, sometime before 1250 was erected, above the town, on the Sparrenberg hill, the castle with the same name, the administrative centre and residence of the county sovereign (in the picture). The fact that Bielefeld, the "city of linen", has become member of the Hanseatic League in 1270, shortly after the castle's building, can't be accidental.

In 1346 Bernhard Count of Ravensberg died without children, so the function as the ruling seat of the castle was lost for a long time. From 1410 to 1428 the Sparrenburg served for a last time as a ruling seat for Count William II of Ravensberg, and in 1511 it was handed over to John III, Duke of Cleves, who ordered the expansion of it. A round bastion was added in the west, only accessible from the castle itself via a bridge, from which one could control Bielefeld Pass with artillery. From 1556 the Italian fortress master builder Alessandro Pasqualini and his son managed the reconstruction, which was finished in 1578 and created the largest fortress in Westphalia. In addition to the original western bastion, the Mühlenrondell, the other three corners of the fortress received round bastions and the Mühlenrondell was expanded into a pointed bastion, called Scherpentiner, in order to further improve control over the Pass.

In 1609, after John William von Jülich-Cleves-Berg passed away without leaving male descendants, burst the War of the Jülich Succession, ended by the Treaty of Xanten, signed in 1614. The castle was handed over to Brandenburg-Prussia, which immediately granted the right of occupation to its Dutch confederates, who retired in 1623, in the course of the Thirty Years' War, leaving it to the Spanish. In 1642 the castle has reached into the hands of the French, and in 1648 was taken by Brandenburg-Prussia. After a few sieges which successfully resisted, at the end of the 17th century the Sparrenburg no longer met the military requirements.

Between 1842 and 1843 the Comité zur Wiederherstellung des Thurmes auf dem Sparrenberg (Committee for the Renovation of the Tower on the Sparrenberg) reconstructed the tower, and in 1879 the city of Bielefeld was able to buy the complex from Prussia for a sum of 8,934.90 Marks, although the original value was assessed 70,000.00 Marks. The construction of the new great hall was started in 1886 using building plans of the architect E. Hillebrand, and two years after the gothic building with ballroom, restaurant, and museum rooms was opened. In 1900, a monument of the Grand Elector Frederick William, made by Fritz Schaper, was erected in the courtyard while Emperor William II, who is the nominal last count of Ravensberg, was present.

Used as a flak emplacement during WWII, the Sparrenburg was heavily damaged in the course of the air raid on Bielefeld on 30 September 1944; only the tower stayed undamaged. After the war the castle was restored and in nowadays the annual Sparrenburgfest held on the last weekend of July, where carnies and merchants re-enact the medieval way of life.

About the stamp

For that the joy to be complete, the stamp, designed by Răzvan Popescu, is a common issue Romania - Germany, Biertan Fortified Church - UNESCO World Heritage Site, released in September 15, 2011. Located halfway between Mediaş and Sighişoara, on Transylvania Plateau, village Biertan (Birthälm) was documented in 1283 and is among the first Saxon settlements in this part of Romania. In the middle of the village, on a hill, is located the imposing fortified church shown in the stamp, built between 1490 and 1524. Evangelical Lutheran Diocese headquarters in Transylvania between 1572 and 1867, it's not only the latest such building (church hall) built in Transylvania, but also the best preserved.

Sparrenberg Castle - Wikipedia

Sender: Wilhelm Janssen / Willi (postcrossing) DE-1150958
Sent from Riepe (Lower Saxony / Germany), on 06.12.2012 
Photo: C. Reinhard

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