The Scale of Damage

The western façade of the building on the Rhine side suffered heavy damage during the Second World War as the result of Allied Forces artillery fire. The central cupola of the Art Gallery was virtually destroyed, bullet holes dotting the walls are still visible today and the priceless stained-glass windows that once decorated the Art Gallery and the castle's function rooms were completely shot to pieces. Luckily, the large staircase window on the eastern side managed to survive. The furnishings belonging to the historical interior rooms were also badly affected. Allied troops and refugees were bivouacked here and, after they had left, large sections of the mural paintings were found to be missing, having been ripped from the walls and stolen.

The first protective measures were initiated in 1948. The Art Gallery received a makeshift roof, damaged windows were repaired and interior rooms were made habitable again. However, by 1960, more decay had set in as the building stood empty for ten years and underwent even more damage through vandalism and adverse weather effects. If the maintenance carried out in the 1970s rescued the castle from total demolition, it would be fair to say (at least from today's point of view) that the work carried out then was neither thorough nor adequate in terms of monument restoration considerations.

The Chronology of Restoration

A comprehensive survey conducted in 1994 formed the basis of the restoration work which, it was estimated, would take twelve years to complete. In the course of that review process, it was found necessary to produce hundreds of true-to-detail plans anew since the drawings and documents from the original time of construction could not be located.

The primary aim was to preserve any existing substance and prevent further dilapidation. All the supply and waste disposal lines had to be replaced as water, electricity, gas, telecom and sewage systems were re-installed. Every square metre in the spacious park grounds was examined and any stones bearing witness to the original masonry were secured and reworked. Access roads for construction traffic, the fire service and storage points had to be laid while old pathways had to be made negotiable again. At the same time, the 1.6 km long castle walls had to be rehabilitated, of which one third has been completed in the mean time – partly within the framework of a successful job creation scheme.

Terrace Wall

When the restoration work on the castle began in 1995, the foundations and the perimeter terrace took up most of the engineers' attention. About 240 metres long and at the base more than two metres in width, the massive terrace wall is built of quarry stone with a natural-stone face. However, due to the previous lack of maintenance and adverse weather, the wall had become so brittle that it was threatening in parts to collapse. In fact, preliminary investigations revealed that the natural stone ashlars, trachyte from the adjacent Wolkenburg, had almost completely detached itself from the quarry stone. And so, in the course of the urgently required repair work, the loose quarry-stone rock was mortared and stabilised before an anchoring concrete shell was installed. The shell was then lined with natural-stone ashlars reconstructed in close detail in order to return the terrace wall to its original look. For that lining, trachyte stone was brought in especially from the Westerwald district, since the Siebengebirge quarries excavated at the time had ceased operation long ago and now lie in a nature conservation area. The stones originally used for the top of the wall were re-used.

The Venus Terrace

In the wake of the restoration of the terrace wall, 1999 saw the rebuilding of the Venus Terrace afore the southern castle façade, this in accordance with listed building requirements. The terrace with its historical fountain system was given a row of square-cut lime trees, a lawn with rose bushes, and a cone-shaped flowerbed which is colourfully planted every year in keeping with the horticultural – and geometric – practice of the Gründerzeit or Wilhelmine Era. The Venus Fountain was also re-activated so that today once again water gurgles into the two basins below.

Art Gallery

The magnificent Art Gallery, which had suffered severe damage in the Second World War, was repaired from 2001 to 2004. The central cupola with its characteristic spire received such heavy damage that it had had to be pulled down in 1948. And it was there in the subsequent gap that a makeshift roof was erected – with the interior vault being provisionally restored. But as work progressed, the tracery windows were replaced so that the façades were now replete with proper windows again. In 2002, also after extensive preparation, the damaged roofing was reconstructed and the cupola was erected on site. In August, the pinnacle – prefabricated and delivered in one piece – was then positioned on the top of the cupola by means of a crane, a project which attracted great publicity.

Residential Wing

The restoration of the Residential Wing involved the most elaborate part of the work. In addition to the exterior restoration needed so urgently, the historical interior rooms had to be remediated as well – with all their mural paintings, panellings, floors and opulent ceilings. The similarly lavish work required on the Niebelung Room, the Library and the Billiard Room was completed in 2007. In April 2009, the private apartment (with bedroom, bathroom and breakfast salon) and the Music Hall were also opened. And as of July 2009, the guest-of-honour suite with its two bedrooms and sitting room affords a wonderfully authentic look into the haute-bourgeois domestic culture of the Wilhelmine Era. These private rooms, by the way, can be viewed as part of the public guided tour.

The final building phase was given over to the restoration of the Dining Hall, the Hunting Trophy & Breakfast Room and the Main Staircase. These sections of the castle have been opened to the public since 2010.

Vorburg

Situated down from the castle precinct, the Vorburg or Front Building was restored and converted for use as exhibition rooms between 1997 and 2000. As a museum, forum and archive for the history of nature conservation in Germany, it is now open to visitors the whole year round. In 2008 it was decided to restore the historical arrival onto the ground. Today the Vorburg serve as main gate with cash desk, a castle shop and a bistro.