THE HISTORY BEHIND TRANEKAER CASTLE
Tranekaer Castle is known from sources dating back to the 13th Century. It was then a highly fortified castle lying on a steep hill with both moat and draw bridge.
Originally built by King Valdemar “The Great”(1131-1182), Tranekaer Castle was part in royal power struggles until Valdemar IV(Atterdag) took the castle after a two week siege and made it the main seat for the county of Tranekaer.
In the year 1643 the Danish King Christian iV borrowed a substantial sum of money from the richest man In Denmark, the govenor of South Jutland Christian Rantzau. Christian Rantzau knew that kings never repay dept, so he demanded Tranekaer Castle and Estate as pawn. The king never repayed and Tranekaer went to Christian Rantzau as an unfulfilled pledge. Rantzaus daughter Margrethe Dorethea, probably the richest heir in Denmark fell in love with Frederik Ahlefeldt, a young imperial count with estates in Denmark and Lothringen, and he with her. Christian Rantzau did not approve of this connection.
This did not deter the young couple and on boxing day 1656, Frederik Ahlefeldt abducted Margrethe Dorethea and they were married in a village church just outside Lübeck. Christian Rantzau was furious, but had to accept the consumated fact and in 1559 Tranekaer went to his son in law. The Ahlefeldt family have since been reciding on Tranekaer.
Frederik Ahlefeldt became a favorite of the Danish King Frederik III and his career peaked when he became Great Chancellor to King Christian V in 1676.
In 1672 he was elevated to the rank of count (Lensgreve=Marquis)by making his possesions into the County of Langland.
The present castle consists of two wings build in an angle. The surface is plastered and whitewashed in a distinct red colour.
The castle has 3 floors and a basement. Placed in the corner of the two wings, tt has an octagonal tower with a spire. The courtyard faces the park and lake.
The north wing has parts dating back to the 12th century which makes Tranekaer the oldest non-clerical lived in house in Denmark. In the basement, building debris from the very early middle ages was found. That makes the castle even older.
The castle was surrounded by a moat, which still exists today. West of the castle the main road runs on top of a dam that keeps the water in the moat and lake. The water drains west by the old water mill(Skvatmøllen).
In the 16th century the castle consisted of a large center tower, the two present wings and two lower wings on the east and south side, which were torn down in the early 18th century.
The mighty tower was demolished in the middle of the 17th century almost a 100 years after having lost its military importance in 1558.
Both the present wings have walls up to 13 feet(4m) thick and in the west wing there is a parapet walk inside the wall itself.
The present shape of the castle is due to a major conversion initiated by Count Frederik Ahlefeldt-Laurvig in the years 1859-1862. In charge of this undertaking was the architect and professor N.S. Nebelong. He extended the west wing, the tower was build, rooms were added in the attic, with windows. The whole building was plastered and whitewashed in a pale red allmost pink colour. Windows and doors were painted.