Haus BürgelSlide show

The site of an old Roman fort lies at the heart of the Urdenbacher Kämpe nature reserve. Known today as Haus Bürgel, this historic architectural ensemble and archaeological site goes back a full two thousand years. The buildings arranged around its central courtyard house the eco centre that protects and preserves this area, a museum about the Roman history of the place, and a stud farm for draught horses. Haus Bürgel thus combines nature conservation with the protection of historic monuments; it is supported by the Nordrhein-Westfalen-Stiftung, a state foundation supporting conservation, local history, and culture projects.
Auenblicke Haus BürgelAuenblicke Haus BürgelAuenblicke Haus Bürgel
In the first century AD, Roman soldiers settled along the River Rhine, which marked the border between Roman-held territories and the Germanic tribes. When in the fourth century Franks from the right bank took to crossing the river for frequent raids, the Romans built a number of forts on the left bank. Haus Bürgel stands on the still visible foundations of one of these forts, which had thick walls and twelve watchtowers. The Frankish castle built on its ruins in the early Middle Ages was first documented in 1019 as "castrum in burgela", from which the name "Haus Bürgel" derives. The old castle was later used as a manor house and farm. Bought by the Nordrhein-Westfalen-Stiftung in 1987, it has been extensively restored.

The original Roman fort was built on the left bank of the River Rhine. Haus Bürgel, however, is on the right bank, although the building was never moved. What happened is that the river changed its course. It is difficult for us today to imagine the dynamic force of an unconfined river as large as the Rhine, but in the year 1347 the Rhine flooded the entire area around Haus Bürgel. When the water finally receded, the inhabitants of the manor house and farm made a surprising discovery: the Rhine had found a new bed, and Haus Bürgel was now on its right bank.
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