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Best Castles in Germany

I have quite a soft-spot for Germany. My fascination started way back when I was barely a teenager. At that time, I was supporting the German National Football Club, better known as Die Mannschaft. Since then, I discovered another love – Castles. After exhausting my travels in the UK, in 2016 I started traveling to Germany. So far, I have visited between 30 to 40 castles in Germany and based on my experience, I would like to write about my favourite 5 castles (so far!) in Deutschland!

Burg Hohenzollern

Located on top of Mount Hohenzollern, one can find a very distinguished castle.  What I would also call distinguished is the view from the castle onto the surroundings; the mesmerizing view of the Black Forest. Upon entering this castle, one would realise that no expense was spared in building and maintaining this castle.

The first mention of the castle was in 1267, however the mentioned castle was completely destroyed in 1423. Roughly 30 years later, the second Hohenzollern Castle was built – now bigger than ever. The fortification around it is a testimony of several conversions the castle has endured during its lifetime. To this day, the structure is sound and in perfect condition thanks to all the tourists who have visited and will visit in the years to come. Personally, I appreciate it when admission fees are used for the maintenance and renovation of the castle I visited.

 

Burg Eltz

Located along the Mosel Valley, one finds a breathtaking castle by the name of Eltz. Remembering the first time I visited this castle, I was unaware of the long (and pleasant) walk in the forest to reach it. We were puzzled; How is it that we are visiting a castle so out of sight? Trust me, the fifteen minute walk is worthwhile. If you find this as an obstacle, you can always take the shuttle bus however! English tours are available in this castle which is kind of expected considering how popular this castle is.

The castle is still owned by the same family who around 33 generation ago lived there. Eltz is one of the only three castles on the left bank of River Rhine which has never been destroyed. Construction started prior to 1157. Another house within the castle was built in the 1400s, whilst the third part of the castle was considered finished in the 1530s. The upside of this last construction is the fact that each room was heated, unlike the remaining parts of the castle which were partly heated only. The Eltz family is still considered noble to this day.

Schloss Drachenburg

Although Shloss Drachenburg looks like a castle, in fact to me, it looks very similar to Disney Castle, this is considered as a villa. What is unbelievable about it is that it was built in just two years between 1882 and 1884. It belonged to a banker who initially planned to make it a home, but then he didn’t. It was later donated to the State Foundation and is now open for the public. The western facade of the palace was heavily damaged in WW2. The restoration took many years to fulfill as even roofs needed to be replaced.

Aside from the beautiful views of Bonn and the river from the very top of the castle, one must admire the interiors who have been hand-painted all these years ago and are to this day so well maintained. I also remember huge stained glass windows, with details I have never witnessed before; and even after visiting several other castles in other countries, still remain unbeatable…

Pfalzgrafenstein Castle

Pfalzgrafenstein – such a big name, for such a small castle! One can find this little gem in the middle of River Rhine. In fact, to gain access to it, you’d have to ride a short boat trip. Once we arrived on Falkenau island we started by admiring the river from a different angle. We also noticed that from a certain level, this castle looks like a ship. Since the river’s depth varies due to seasonality, the castle had to be built in such a way that it did not flood when the water rises.

Built between 1326 and 1327, its function was as a toll-collecting station. A chain across the river forced ships to stop and pay the fee. If they did not cooperate, they were kept in the castle’s dungeon until a ransom was received. Although the castle was restored to its glory, to this day one does not find neither electricity nor a lavatory. The area is a World Heritage site.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Possibly the more popular castle not only in Germany but worldwide. What many do not know, is the sad story behind it. Back in the 1800s, the King Ludwig II, started to build this most magnificent and luxurious castle, only he died before it was completely finished. In fact, the king only lived in the castle for 172 years (in his private headquarters, whilst it was still being built), and it was opened for public viewing shortly after he died in the year 1886.

It is my intention to rebuild the old castle ruin of Hohenschwangau near the Pöllat Gorge in the authentic style of the old German knights’ castles, and I must confess to you that I am looking forward very much to living there one day […]; you know the revered guest I would like to accommodate there; the location is one of the most beautiful to be found, holy and unapproachable, a worthy temple for the divine friend who has brought salvation and true blessing to the world…

— Ludwig II, Letter to Richard Wagner, May 1868[14]

 

Most of the photos above are my own (apart from interior photos of Neuschwanstein, Eltz and Hohenzollern for the simple reason that it was not allowed). Kindly seek permission before re-using.

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It’s ok now…

The sky was crying
hiding away my tears.
It was ok to weep now
no one will see.

Inside, I’m broken
Inside, I’m empty
Without you, I’m nothing
But for you, I was no one.

All the sacrifices,
All I wanted for us,
For you, insignificant
I was just another girl.

There was no point in us,
I was blind.
Treated you as my king,
my everything.

You and I
no longer are,
no longer will be
we are history.

______________________
By Steffi ~
This is not my current situation. I am merely depicting a painful story.

Flint Castle

During my last visit to North Wales in November, my boyfriend who knows how much I adore castles took me to Flint Castle. I did see some photos of the castle before we made way to it, but as soon as I saw the castle up on a green grassed hill, I realised that the photos didn’t do it justice. Although not massive in size, the location and the atmosphere was amazing. The fact that we were the only two people on its grounds made it even more special.

flint1

A little bit of history

The castle has been erect for over 700 years now. In fact the building work began in the year 1277 and was finalised in 1284. It took 1,800 workers and masons to built the foundations and the castle itself. This castle was the first castles to be built after King Edward I invaded Wales. The design of the castle is a mix of Gothic architecture of the Medieval era together with the design of a Concentric castle – making it stronger, bigger and more luxurious than most castles built during the same time. Flint Castle’s unique fortress design was not repeated in any other castle, and as such the layout at Flint remains unique throughout the British Isles.

One important feature of flint Castle is its access to the sea. This not only speeded up construction due to the ability of transporting equipment and building materials by boats, but also helped in the success of the new fortified town which was built around the same time as the castle. This ensured that the town had fresh food supplies and provisions which prevented its occupants from starving to death during the siege warfare.


The castle is located on the North-East coast of Wales, which gives a magnificent view of the shore and Liverpool in the distance.

flint 7

Interesting facts

– In 1399 Richard II of England was held by Henry Bolingbroke at Flint Castle before returning to London
– During the English Civil Wars which started in 1642, the castle was held by the Royalists. After a 3 month siege it was then captured by the Parliamentarians in 1647. In order to prevent the castle to be used again in a conflict, the castle was set for destruction. It is because of this, that what remains today is ruins.
– Today, the castle is maintained by CADW which is the Welsh government body that conserved and promotes the building heritage of Wales. The castle can be accessed by the public for free.
– In summer 2009 the castle was temporarily closed due to anti-social behaviour as teenagers were drinking and vandalising the castle. It reopened after CADW liaised with police to improve security at the castle.

Remember, Remember

…The 5th of November!!

guyfawkes
For those who are not in the know, the 5th of November is the night we celebrate Guy Fawkes.

But… Who was Guy Fawkes?
Imagine England in the 1600s.. Still under shock and divided between Catholics and Protestants; of course this goes way back since the reign of King Henry VIII. Four kings later, religion did not change and the pressure was still undergoing. The story of Guy Fawkes happened two years after James I was crowned as king. In fact, Fawkes was one of the main members of The Gunpowder Plot of 1605. A group of Catholics have attempted to bomb, or rather blow up the House of Parliament and kill the king. The idea was to protest against the rule of a Protestant King. Guy was the chosen one, the one to light the fuse on D DAY. Because of this reason, he got a lot of attention regarding the conspiracy story; and also a day named after him.

If the story sounds familiar to you… It is probably because you have watched the film V for Vendetta.
Join me tonight and make it a yearly habit; Join me by watching this. Lets remember this night of treason, together.

So, what are we celebrating on this day?
I would dare say, that for the Brits, this day is Thanksgiving Day. The tradition itself started on the same day and year that the Gunpowder Plot had the failed coup. It started as a joyful celebration of Londoners, relieved that their King was saved. This was done by the means of a bonfire.
As time went by, the celebration became more elaborate. Preparations for the Bonfire Night did not include just the bonfire, but also fireworks. Before this day, some would also dare making a dummy of Guy Fawkes, the Pope and some even of politicians. Guy’s dummy is placed on top of the bonfire, and once it is alight, people would throw into the fire the other dummies. Fireworks display fills the sky all over Britain, and some would also light their own fireworks from their home garden.

Bonfire Night is not just celebrated in Britain, as the tradition itself crossed oceans all over and has become popular in a lot of the British colonies along the years. Canada and New Zealand for instance still celebrate it.

steffisays-guyfawkes-2012
When I lived in England, I was very keen about this Day. I even got my own mask. X

524 years ago, King Henry VIII was born

Wishing, a very happy birthday to King Henry VIII; my favourite king from all British history. My fascination about this king started when I was around 8 years, and I was assigned a project at school about this king. Back in those days, we did not have internet available, so we had to go to the library to look up information. During this I learned so much about the king and how much he achieved, and to this date the Tudor age is my favourite era. On the 28th of June, 1491 Henry was born, and at the age of 18, he was declared the king. If his older brother did not die, he would have never become a king, or at least not at a such young age.

There are three things that you need to know about this king:

  1. tudorsHe broke off from the Roman Catholic Church in order to establish the Church of England – all for one purpose; to get his first divorce.
  2. He remodeled the government, adored art and architecture and encouraged modern politics
  3. He  had six wives, two of which have been executed in the Tower of London:
  • He has married Katherine of Aragon, as Spanish princes and they were married for 18 years. He had to introduce divorce in England in order to be able to divorce her. His reason for this is because Katherine was pregnant six times but never has managed to give him a male heir. Only one of her babies survived, a daughter; Princess Mary. At her death bed, she wrote a letter to Henry VIII telling him that throughout her life she has no eyes for anyone but him. She was the most devoted wife he has ever had.
  • Ann Boleyn was his second wife, and their relationship lasted 3 years. She has given him another Princess by the name Elisabeth. Ann Boleyn was not very well accepted as a queen and had a lot of trouble at court. Right after a miscarriage, she was arrested and executed at the Tower of London for adultery and incest.
  • The only wife who has managed to give him a male heir was Jane Seymour. King Henry VIII was very happy and in love, as he felt that his mission was fulfilled, however when his son Edward was one year old, his wife died on him.
  • Henry has first saw his new wife on a painting by Hans Hoblein. He married Anne of Cleves and soon after he found her to be unattractive. To this, he started pursuing on of her maids of honour Catherine Howard. Anne and Henry annulled their marriage after six months, but they both remained friends. In fact, he commanded that she should be treated as the King’s sister.
  • Three weeks after his annulment, he married Catherine Howard, who was still almost in her teenage years. As such, there were rumours going on about her infidelity, about her past and ongoing love affairs. Henry was enraged about this and had her arrested at Hampton Court Palace and later beheaded at the Tower of London.
  • Kateryn Parr was Henry’s last wife. She evidently loved another (Thomas Seymour) however she could not refuse the king’s proposal. She was known for her devotion and intelligence, and she stayed with Henry until his very last breath. She did marry Thomas in the end, but irony had it that she died 15 months later, after giving birth to their daughter.

Prince Edward VI has become king at the age of 9 when Henry VIII passed away. Edward did die from a terminal illness at the age of 15. Upon which, the reign of his half sister Mary started. If you are interested in watching a TV Series about the life on Henry and his wives, I recommend the series by the name of ‘Tudors’.