Duwisib Castle


A curious neo-baroque structure located about 70km south of Maltahöhe smack dab in the middle of the barren desert, this European castle is smaller than some grandiose descriptions suggest and really worth a stop only if you’re passing by – it's more novelty than spectacular in its own right. The portraits and scant furniture certainly give it a European feel though and the pleasant courtyard is a good place to relax in the shade of some majestic trees.

It was built in 1909 by Baron Captain Hans Heinrich von Wolf. After the German-Nama wars, the loyal Baron commissioned architect Willie Sander to design a castle that would reflect his commitment to the German military cause. He also married the stepdaughter of the US consul to Dresden, Miss Jayta Humphreys, and planned on ruling over his personal corner of German South West Africa.

Although the stone for the castle was quarried nearby, much of the raw material was imported from Germany, and required 20 ox wagons to transport it across the 330km of desert from Lüderitz. Artisans and masons were hired from as far away as Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Italy. The result was a U-shaped castle with 22 rooms, all suitably fortified and decorated with family portraits and military paraphernalia. Rather than windows, most rooms have embrasures, which emphasise Von Wolf’s apparent obsession with security.

As history would have it, WWI broke out, and the Baron reenlisted in the Schutzruppe (German Imperial Army), only to be killed two weeks later at the Battle of Somme. The Baroness never returned to Namibia, though some people claim that the descendants of her thoroughbred horses still roam the desert. In the late 1970s, ownership of the Duwisib Castle and its surrounding 50 hectares was transferred to the state, and is now administered by NWR.