Friday, 24 July 2009

A Little History – Bensberg, Old Castle

Town Hall BensbergThis morning I parked my car in front of the town hall in Bensberg when I suddenly remembered the creation of this building – it made me smile.

Bensberg is a nice small town in an area called Bergisches Land (literally something like mountainous country), not too far from Cologne.

There are two castles in Bensberg, the 'new' one and an older one, simply called the Old Castle and for the first time mentioned in 1103. This had been fallen into ruin over the centuries.

In the Sixties Bensberg wanted a new town hall to be built on the ground of the Old Castle. The city council commissioned Gottfried Böhm (for more details in German go here and here) to design and build something that would go together with the historical structure.

Böhm followed the old castle's footprint and Bensberg got a state-of-the-art town hall that was highly controversial. A huge pile of concrete attached to the ruins – Bensberg's inhabitants were completely shocked. They called the building 'Affenfelsen' (= rocks for monkeys).

I was a child at that time but I remember well my Dad grinning when he heard people railing against that 'horrible' new building. (I think he liked it. Me too.)

Who would have thought how public opinion can change! Today, 40 years later, the 'Bensberger' take pride in their still unusual, famous town hall.

Love it.
(Photos in this post by Grkauls/Wikipedia)
Town Hall Bensberg - Model

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