Plön Castle/Plöner Schloss, in Plön is one of the largest castles in the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein and the only one located on a hill. The former Residenz of the Dukes of Schleswig-Holstein-Plön was built in the 17th century during the Thirty Years War and has had a colourful history in which it has, for example, been a school for military cadets and also a boarding school. The castle ended up in the possession of the state of Schleswig-Holstein, but they could not fund its renovation and so it had to be sold again. Since January 2002 it has belonged to the Fielmann Akademie Schloss Plön and, after extensive conversion, serves as a training and qualification centre for a branch of optometry. After being inaccessible to the general public for many years when it was a boarding school, its new owners have opened it to a limited extent to visitors.
Today the castle is a public site of historical heritage hosting an elite optician academy. The first master classes already commenced in 2002 during the reconstruction period. Since the winter semester 2005/06 the academy offers a Bachelor’s degree in optometry (BSc Augenoptik / Optometrie) in cooperation with the Fachhochschule Lübeck. It also provides various courses for both skilled workers and executives of the optical industry. Per year more than 6,000 opticians are qualified. 24 lecturers teach at the academy. The castle is used – to a large extent – by the academy. Some parts however serve as a museum: the Duke’s historical Rokoko-rooms in the East wing of the castle have been intricately restored and can be viewed during daily tours. Recently the castle has also been the venue of various official and semi-official events. The great hall for example has been used for the Conference of German Culture Ministers, the SPD’s functionary conference and a convention of the ZDF. It has been repeatedly discussed as potential venue of the G8 forum. In 2008 and 2009 the castle hosted the Global Economic Symposium with participants like George Akerlof, Richard Evans and Joseph Stiglitz. There have been numerous classical concerts in the castle’s chapel.