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The virtual reconstruction of medieval Valkenburg Castle

Happy marriage between history and augmented reality

Knights in shining armor, damsels in distress in impregnable fortresses: the Middle Ages keep capturing our imagination. Take the Dutch cultural monument Valkenburg Castle. Only ancient ruins at first glance, however, looks deceive. With a bit of help from Dutch Rose Media, 4DR Studios, and visiting time travelers, augmented reality and volumetric video resurrected the stately castle. 

Let’s start with a history lesson. Enemy forces demolished the first Valkenburg Castle (circa 1075) in 1122. The second castle suffered the same faith. Three times seemed a charm as the third castle (ad 1250) stood its ground for over four centuries. In spring 1672, the French troops took control of the fortress to seize the city of Maastricht. 

In early December of that same year, the ‘Staatse’ army of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands launched a counterattack and strategically destroyed the fortress. For centuries only the ruins reminded visitors of Valkenburg Castle’s illustrious past. Restauration seemed virtually impossible. Seemed: nowadays, the castle once again stands proudly.  

Three-dimensional models as the starting point 

Even though by no means a physical restoration, it is undoubtedly the best alternative. The virtual resurrection of the ruins started when a building historian donated Valkenburg Castle three-dimensional models of the castle in its glory days. A great starting place for Dutch Rose Media to build on, in close cooperation with 4DR Studios. We took care of the process from concept, script, design, and software to digitalizing the three-dimensional models and creating true-to-life holograms. These virtual structures all returned to their original spots in the medieval scenery. 

Behind the scenes 4DR Studios volumetric video studio

Two target groups, two historical walks

Valkenburg Castle targets two types of visitors: (building) history enthusiasts interested in the origin and families and young people looking for a great tale cast in a surprising concept. Both target groups are well served during the two historical walks. Participating is just a matter of downloading the augmented reality app onto a smartphone. A fun mini-game gets future visitors acquainted with the technology while getting in the right mood. 

History enthusiasts can indulge themselves during the architectural-historical walk. The virtual tour of sites such as the chapel and knight’s hall offers a unique insight into the various construction stages and functions of the castle and its impressive rooms. And idly sitting back is no option as visitors virtually contribute to the resurrection. 

Medieval wedding

There is also no leaning back lazily during the experience walk. Visitors travel back to 1495, where they become part of medieval wedding preparations. And not just any wedding, but that of Anna van Culemborg and Jan van Pallandt, as Amtmann the most important man in Valkenburg. A lot remains to be done before husband and wife can exchange vows. 

Together with many other villagers, market merchant Lambert and housekeeper Heleen are busy preparing for the celebrations. At the volumetric video studio of 4DR Studios, we meticulously constructed into life-like avatars. Here, they point visitors in the right direction and to chores. Somebody needs to lower the drawbridge, light the candles, and place the coat of arms on the wall in the knight’s hall. Visitors can carry out all chores through the app, so nothing stands in the way of a festive wedding.

Living history

Though it’s not really feasible to reinstate historic Valkenburg Castle, advanced technology paves the way for an immersive alternative. They bring medieval times back to life, day in, day out. Walls and towers resurrect, and visitors become an invaluable part of living history. Both historical tours through the past of Valkenburg Castle are entirely free for visitors of the castle and related Velvet Caves. So, no extra costs for visitors to experience Valkenburg Castle in all its splendor. 

Seeing is believing

Augmented reality and volumetric video bring real momentum in 3D to historical locations, personas, and objects. In Valkenburg and Essen, Germany, as you can see here

Suited for your location as well? Request your demo here and discover the possibilities and impact.