The History of the Castle
The predecessor building of Wittem Castle was first mentioned in a deed of donation in 1125. The widow Guda van Valkenburg, who, after the death of her husband, Thibald van Voeren (Dutch only) in 1106, spent her twilight years in the castle in Wittem, bequeathed it according to this document to the Saint Jacob's abbey in Liège, in today's Belgium.
In 1220, Winand of Julemont bought the castle from St. James Abbey and had a mighty stone tower built, which is the oldest remaining part of Wittem Castle. At that time, the Julemont family was an important knight dynasty from the Liège area, with many family branches. Among them were the Knights of Scavendriesch, who later fought alongside the Knights of Brabant in the War of the Limburg Succession.
The coat of arms of the Julemont family, a red jagged thorny cross on a golden yellow shield, can still be seen in the stained-glass window above the entrance door of the castle. The shape of the coat of arms still serves as the castle logo today. In 1344, Gerard III sold his estate, and with it Wittem Castle, to Johan I. van Corselaer (also known as Jan van Wittem). During the period when Wittem Castle was owned by the Corselaer family, it was converted into a square with five towers.
Between 1444 and 1639, the castle, at that time owned by the van Pallandt family, experienced a golden age. Due to its location between Aachen and Maastricht and its size at that time, Wittem Castle was also a strategically important target and was often attacked and occupied from the middle of the 16th century onwards. In the Eighty Years' War and the Dutch War, among others. In 1569, it was almost completely destroyed by a Spanish attack.
Although it was rebuilt by 1619 and then inhabited again, the siege did not end until the late 17th century. The castle can also tell of its historical highlights: The night before his coronation as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire on 25 October 1520, Charles V, later King of Spain, stayed overnight in Wittem Castle on his way to Aachen.
Willem I. von Naussau-Dillenburg also spent 3 weeks at Wittem Castle. Later in its history, Wittem Castle belonged to the Waldeck, Plettenberg, and Merckelbach families.
The Merckelbach family shaped the castle’s present appearance more than any other. This family served the Waldecks and later the Plettenbergs for many years. In 1764, Simon Merckelbach bought the castle and the surrounding countryside and began to restore it. His son, Jan Mathys Merckelbach, particularly influenced the neo-gothic style of the castle. It was Jan Mathys who had the park built around the castle.
Until 1956, Schloss Wittem was owned by the descendants of Jan Mathys Merckelbach. In 1968, Peter Ritzen from Valkenburg acquired the castle, had it renovated and converted it into a hotel restaurant. In 2009, the Ritzen family sold the castle. It reopened about a year later and closed shortly afterwards. At the beginning of 2011, Ronald and Silvia de Meij acquired the castle and continued it as a hotel and restaurant. Alexander and Nicole Wilden have been the owners of the castle since the beginning of 2018.