The Sparrenburg is the symbol of the city of Bielefeld, a German town in the Teutoburger Wald (Teutoburg Forest) region. The modern layout of the castle is largely based on changes in the 16th and 19th century. It also forms a spectacular backdrop of the Sparrenburgfest – the annual medieval fair.
The castle was build in 1250 by the Lords of Ravensberg and secured the pass over the Teutoburger Wald close to the town of Bielefeld, which had been founded in 1214. It is now believed that the castle was preceded by an older stronghold. It was the seat of the reigning lords of Ravensberg until 1428. It changed owners multiple times and it was attacked and besieged several times, particularly in the 16th and 17th centuries after the castle had be retrofitted to withstand heavy can attacks and played a large role in the 30 year war. The Peace of Westphalia finally confirmed the castle as part of the holdings of the Lords of Brandenburg-Preussen.
When the age of the castle came to an end, the Sparrenburg first served as a prison and some of the masonry was sold to build barracks in town. In the 19th century the castle was restored, although to a more modern ideal. The central round tower for example had been tear shaped originally. The castle was bought by the town of Bielefeld and a a restaurant and museum were opened.
The Sparrenburg was heavily damaged during World War 2, where it served to house anti-aircraft defences. It was restored again by 1987 and has served as one of the regions major tourist attractions since.
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