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Gottorf Castle

In its long history, Gottorf Castle has seen a lot of change: once a mediaeval fortress, the impressive estate now houses two museums – and stunning architecture throughout.

In its long history spanning more than 800 years, Gottorf Castle has seen many transformations: from mediaeval fort to Renaissance fortress to the impressive baroque palace we know today. It now houses two museums as well as the Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen (lit.: ‘Foundation of Schleswig-Holstein State Museums’). Visitors can expect a wonderful day trip filled with impressive history, culture and architecture. 

Strategic Fortification To Prestigious Palace

Way back in the mid-12th century, a fort was constructed on this small stretch of negotiable land between the Schlei inlet and the swampy headwaters of the Treene river in order to monitor the only southern entrance to mediaeval Denmark. After a fire in 1492 it was rebuilt to become the first renaissance structure north of the Elbe river. 

Over time, this former fortress grew to become a centre of worldly as well as religious power and links to monarchies all over northern Europe. After all, Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf was the title of four Swedish monarchs as well as many Russian tsars until the early 20th century. The prestigious baroque palace that we can still visit today dates back to around 1700. 

Gottorf Castle Today

By the mid-17th century, Gottorf Castle had already established itself as home to an important art collection. Today, the premises house the Schleswig-Holstein Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte (lit.: ‘State Museum for Art and Cultural History’), the Archäologisches Landesmuseum (lit.: ‘State Museum for Archaeology’), as well as the Stiftung Schleswig-Holsteinische Landesmuseen. 

The esate sits on an island just outside the town centre of Schleswig at the far end of the Schlei. Both the town of Schleswig, with the historic viking settlement of Haithabu, and the Schlei are day trip destinations in their own right, which is why this area makes for a wonderful weekend trip. The castle also lies along the Ochsenweg, a historic route connecting the Elbe river at Wedel with the northernmost tip of Denmark, which is very popular among cyclists and bikepackers. 


Museumsinsel Schloss Gottorf 
Schloßinsel 1  
24837 Schleswig 

For more information and upcoming exhibitions and events, see Schloss Gottorf