Altena Castle (German: Burg Altena) is a Medieval hill castle in the town of Altena in North Rhine-Westphalia. Built on a spur of Klusenberg hill, the castle lies near the Lenne in the Märkischer Kreis. It is a short ~40 km drive from Dortmund.
The castle was erected by the early Counts of Berg in the early 12th century. Eventually, the House of Berg abandoned Altena and moved their residence to Hamm.
Supposedly, the castle was built by the brothers Adolf and Everhard von Berg around the year 1108 after Henry V granted them land in Sauerland. On Wulfseck Mountain they built their castle, which they named Wulfeshagen, later Altena. This is one of the three legends of the establishment of the county of Altena and the building of the castle.
2. The Castle stands over most of the town.
We parked at the parking lot at one end of Altena, where the walking path to the Castle starts. A shuttle bus is available (1 EUR per adult), but we decided to walk instead. If you need to carry a stroller with you then you might regret the decision later.
3. There are a couple of beautiful buildings on the way to the castle.
4. The road gets narrower the closer you get to the castle.
6. Through the buildings you can get cool views of the buildings below, something that you will miss if you take the shuttle bus (or drive the car).
8. The road gets steeper and narrower.
10. Wonderful building.
11. We have finally reached the castle.
13. Everything looks very well preserved.
14. Here we buy the tickets, 6 EUR for one adult. Considering that we spent about 3 hours walking along the castle, I would say it is well worth it.
15. There is a suggested order in which to explore the castle, accompanied by these blue signs.
17. The part of the building with a white wall is a restaurant, but I think it was closed at the time, as there was no movement.
The small parking lot in front is available only to employees of the castle, don’t try parking here.
20. Inside the walls in the main square there is a simple food truck that serves sausages, fries and beer.
21. It is said that Burg Altena is the very first Youth Hostel in the world, established some 100+ years ago. This was used as the dining room.
23. Looks comfortable enough.
24. Here we start the longest route of the tour, which can take up to an hour, so get ready beforehand, like a toilet break.
27. Two versions of Burg Altena, before and after it was fortified.
28. The table is inside a glass cage, no touching.
33. According to some historians, most of the armor that is displayed in museums worldwide is not real battle armor, but armor used at parades. Real battle armor rarely survived multiple battles.
34. A hunting room.
37. I highly doubt that anyone ever fought in something like this.
40. Not sure why this war machine is here, in the tower. Is this a big part of a ballista?
41. Back to the main square and going to the final, tall tower. You can get only up to the part where the 3 small windows are visible, after that the path is closed off.
46. After exploring the castle we decided to go up to the river and explore the town.
49. The past and the future in one shot.
50. The busiests place in town is Gianpaolo Alemanno Eisdiele Cappuccino, located right near this bridge. Tasty ice cream and waffles.
52. The rest of the way felt deserted: empty buildings, stores for rent, etc.
53. From the street you will find a very tall and modern glass entrance to something resembling a mine, the Erlebnisaufzug.
“The Altena Castle Adventure Lift is a journey through time into the Altena Castle Hill, moving along 90 metres and 80 metres upwards. Let yourself be amazed by the seven gates, gripping stories and mythical figures, all accompanied by special effects.
The Adventure Lift connects the Altena Town Centre directly with the Altena Castle – saving you the arduous 20-minute walk up there on foot.”
54. One thing that we learned from visiting many small towns in multiple countries – eat or drink in places that are crowded. If you see empty tables – there is a reason for that: bad menu, bad service or bad prices (or any combination of).
55. On this side of the river there are 3 or 4 open air bars.
57. Two of the bars are connected with a “water view” stone path.
62. We got to the other side of the river, hoping to find something interesting. Unfortunately there is not much to see, especially on foot. There’s also more (and louder) traffic, so unfortunately our son was woken up by the noise.
63. A view of the Altena Castle from the Mittlere Brücke, the one near the ice-cream place.
65. The river is very shallow and the current is not strong, so the fisherman had no problems doing his thing.
In Conclusion about Altena
In the past 5 years we have visited multiple castles and palaces in Europe. Altena Castle is probably one of the best organized and reasonably priced. I can honestly recommend visiting the castle.
The rest of Altena is OK for a walk, but nothing breathtaking. With a population of almost 20,000 people Altena is neither a bustling city nor a charming village, it feels like a place in transition. It is not the most popular tourist attraction which is a big bonus for people tired of crowds.
Nonetheless I think it is a great place for a Sunday visit, especially in good weather.