Former Castle Hotel
The Althoff Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg has a rich and varied past, steeped in historical significance. It began its journey in the late 17th century when Prince-Elector Johann Wilhelm II commissioned its construction as a "Maison de Rétraite". Influenced by the grandeur of Versailles and Winchester Castle, this breathtaking location atop the Bensberg mountain terrace overlooks the cathedral city of Cologne, embodying a blend of majesty and tranquility. Initially intended as a hunting lodge for Johann Wilhelm's second wife, Maria-Luisa of the Medici family, the plan was revised to create an impressive castle after the prince-elector's visit to Versailles. The scale of the castle astounded visitors of the era, among whom was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
However, the castle bore witness to an unfortunate twist of fate. After the prince-elector's death in 1716, without ever having graced his "Rhenish Versailles", his widow returned to Italy, taking along all the artists, plasterers, and painters who were contributing to the castle's completion. As a result, the building remained unfinished, subsequently serving as a military hospital, cadet school, boarding school, and refugee center across different periods. In 1997, a significant turn of events transpired when the Aachener & Münchener life insurance company purchased the dilapidated building. With an investment of 75 million Euros, they transformed the historical edifice into an internationally renowned luxury hotel. In 2000, the Grandhotel Schloss Bensberg opened its doors, thus, inaugurating a new chapter in its illustrious history.