Located on an island in the Schlei, a narrow inlet of the Baltic Sea, Schloss Gottorf is a historic castle estate that served as the ancestral home of the House of Oldenburg. It lies just a couple of kilometers from the Old Town of Schleswig and boasts two of the state’s most significant museums.
The island was first settled as an estate in the 12th century as the residence of Bishop Occo of Schleswig before being transferred to the Count of Holstein of the House of Schauenburg in 1340. It was later inherited by Christian I of Denmark who was the first Danish monarch from the House of Oldenburg.
Schloss Gottorf was expanded throughout the years, particularly during the 16th century when it became the primary residence of Christian I, with the castle seen today built by the famous Swedish architect, Nicodemus Tessin the Younger around the turn of the 18th century. It largely fell into disrepair under the reign of Frederick IV of Denmark and was used as a barracks for both Danish and Prussian forces during the 19th century.
After being used as a displaced persons camp during World War II, Schloss Gottorf was extensively renovated and restored in the post-war years. It is now owned by the State of Schleswig-Holstein and houses both the State Art and Cultural History Museum, as well as the State Archaeological Museum. The State Art and Cultural History Museum boasts an outstanding collection of works dating from the high Middle Ages to contemporary art while the State Archaeological Museum spans around 120,000 years of German history.