Empel House

How times change!

Hidden behind the trees like an enchanted citadel lie the ruins of Empel Castle. The height of the ruins and the large windows allow us to imagine what an elegant and impressive building the castle complex must once have been. When Empel Castle was first mentioned in the 14th century, it was a formidable defensive structure. The Earl of Kleve and the Archbishop of Cologne jockeyed for dominance here. Anyone who was in the castle in such interesting times had to expect trouble, which is probably why the building appeared so unapproachable. However, there was a little extravagance in the form of the castle chapel. But as we said, times change and there comes a point when you can treat yourself to a little comfort. Big glazed windows and a magnificent Renaissance oriel window made the subsequent Empel House in the 16th century more inviting, however the times did not become easier. The wars between the Spaniards and the Dutch affected Empel House. The following Thirty Years War was far from the last confrontation that our region had to endure. However, the masters of Empel House seem to have been lucky because they were the administrators of justice. In other words: They could judge all legal cases, even those subject to the death penalty! This means that Empel House was one of the independent powers, a status of which the owners, as aristocrats, were proud. The importance of the house then diminished, but it had lasted for centuries - until the Second World War. This catastrophe of the 20th century managed to do with horrifying thoroughness what all of the previous conflicts had not managed. So the trees are not hiding a romantic remnant of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, but a memorial that reminds us of our most recent history. If you want to see more of the ruin, please don't set off on your own. The castle site is privately owned. But Rees council offers guided tours.