A story with a happy ending that of these incredible tenacious 14th-century towers survived of a demolition and now a fairytale vacation rental. Built in 1393, these are the last medieval city gates in the historic city of Xanten, on the banks of the River Rhine. They’re so well-built that a demolition attempt in the 19th century failed to raze them.
The two towers were built by the cities of Kleve and Cologne, which shared administrative responsibility for Xanten in the 14th century. Once they were joined together by a bridge over the city’s filled in defensive moat.
The coats of arms of these cities are still visible on the outer “Owl Towers” of the defensive complex. This two turrets got their avian name after several centuries of abandonment left them a perfect haunt for the nocturnal birds.
In the past, for any would-be attackers that survived this defense, a second, castle fortified tower on the roadway offered a final defensive deterrent. By the 19th century, the European mania for fortified city gates was over, and the structures were considered obsolete relics, fit only for demolition. However, the task of removing the well-built towers was impossible with the tools available. After defying demolition, the gate’s fortifications were restored and used in different ways, like a prison, museum, local office of the Hitler Youth movement, or accommodation for archaeologists working on the Roman ruins located in Xanten Archaeological Park.
Today, the beautiful city gates are an impressive welcome to this small german city. Xanten’s tourist bureau, located a short walk away, has converted the innermost bastion into three comfortable and nice tourist apartments for tower lovers and fairytale-enthusiasts to stay in. The apartments in the innermost tower can be rented from the city information office or here. 😉