Arnold von Harff

Arnold von Harff (* 1471 Castle Harff, Bedburg; † January 1505 ) was a knight who went on a pilgrimage to the three most important pilgrimage destinations of the Christian Middle Ages, namely to Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostela, and about his journey through Europe, Palestine the Ottoman Empire a detailed report written in German language. Important historical evidence in addition to the descriptions of the pilgrimage are also notified by Harff glossaries, such as the Croatian, Albanian or Breton language.


Arnold von Harff was born the son of Adam von Harf and his wife Rikarda of Hoemen and 1504 he married Margaret of the Bongart.


Arnold von Harff occurred on November 7, 1496 by Cologne from a pilgrimage to the East to, traveled through Germany and Italy to Rome, and embarked in February 1497 in Venice to Alexandria one. He visited Cairo and St. Catherine's Monastery on the Sinai Peninsula; from there he continued his pilgrimage on to the Promised Land and the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, where he was beaten by the Holy grave knight. He moved from there via Damascus and Aleppo to Antioch, then through the whole length of Asia Minor to Brusa across the Balkans, Italy, France to the grave of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. Here then began his journey home via Paris and Brussels. On October 10, 1499, he met in Heinberg (Rheinland) the Duke of Jülich again.

Last years of life

In 1499 he received from his uncle Godart of Harff a castle in the Erkelenzer land, located behind the present-day Good Nierhoven in today Erkelenz - Lövenich. The castle no longer exists. Here he is said to have his travel reports recorded in a "Pilgrim Book". In the Benedictine Abbey of Khajuraho, the reports were illustrated. Later he was Erbkämmerer country funds, but died in January 1505 probably at its water castle in Lövenich. In this place, the tradition exists that the knight was buried in the local parish church. Indication of this is a grave slab, which is now in the crypt and comes from a previous church. Demolition of the old church in 1868, but no such findings were made. Other reports indicate the ancestral seat of the castle Harff family as a place of death. Also this castle in Bedburg- Kaster no longer exists. The historic building had the local lignite mine Frimmersdorf soft and was destroyed in 1972.


At the Knights remind road and school name in Bedburg and Erkelenz. At the outer entrance to the crypt of the Catholic parish church Lövenicher is since 2009 a commemorative plaque. The African and Oriental travels of " late medieval world traveler or pilgrim - " are originating local legends of " Loevenicher lion knight ".


He left a preserved in several manuscripts describing his journey, which also includes fictional parts. So he pretends that he had also visited India, the Nicobar Islands, Madagascar and the Nilquellgebiet. The other sources used here are demonstrated by L. Korth in the Journal of the Aachen History Association, Vol 5, 1884, pp. 191 ff The trip report was first issued in 1860 by Everhard von Groote and provided with woodcuts after the original illustrations. A critical revision of the original illustrations of manuscripts published on the occasion of a traveling exhibition in 2007.

  • Everhard von Groote (Eds. ); Arnold von Harff: The Pilgrimage of the knight Arnold von Harf. From Cologne through Italy, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Ethiopia, Nubia, Palestine, Turkey, France, Spain, as he completed in the years 1496 to 1499, described and illustrated by drawings has (Cologne 1860). Reprint Hildesheim 2004: ISBN 3-487-12065-8 Olms.
  • Newly published in facsimile in Fines Mundi Verlag, Saarbrücken, 2007.