Tag Archives: valley

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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Of Tree Spirits and Fascinations

I think, that as a person, I hold a very strange obsession and fascination towards trees. It is not something that bothers me, in fact to the contrary, I love it. I find it very pleasant and relaxing to spend hours walking in the countryside and admiring all the gorgeous trees in the environment I am in.

I must admit, I have hundreds of photos portraying trees and close-ups of branches contrasting the sky. If you are curious, have a look at my Instagram profile, here.

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Sometimes I even wonder if in my past life I was a tree… Or a tree spirit….

Have you heard of Nymphs?
Nymphs are female spirits of nature in Greek mythology. They are protectors of all things nature; springs, mountains, grottoes, trees, the sea and rivers.

Depending of where they resided, the Nymphs are as follows: Dryads (forests), Naiads (springs and rivers),  Oceanids (the sea) and Oreads (mountains), Limoniads (meadows), Limniads (lakes, marshes and swamps), Meliads (ash-trees), Epimeliads (protectors of sheep) and Napaea (valleys and glens) etc.

Nymphs are not considered as eternal creatures; although they lead a long life they are fated to die eventually. The male version of a nymph is the Sat.

My top 3 Nymphs:

  • The Dryads are the female spirits of nature who take care of the forests. Once born, dryadeach one is born and destined to one particular tree, which she watches over all her life. In some cases a dryad lives within the tree and are not tree spirits. These type of dryads are called Hamdryads. In both cases if the tree perish, they will die with it. If a mortal kills the tree, it is said that the Gods will punish him for the said deed. The dryad, as the protector of her own tree, would also punish a mortal should they cruelly injure their tree.
  • The Oreads; from the Greed word oros, which translates to mountains, are the nymphs of the mountains and grottoes. It is said that these nymphs would come out in joyful and rather loud groups to hunt animals and birds of prey with their arrows.
  • The Naiads are fresh water nymphs. They are said to preside over streams, springs, fountains, lakes, ponds and rivers. The Naiads were considered to be very loyal to their body of water; to the extend that if it were to dry up, they will die. The water which is taken care of by the Naiads is believed to be endowed with powers; be it inspiration, medical or prophetic. So much so, that these nymphs were continuously worshipped by the ancient Greeks for fertility and growth.

 

 

 

 

A stroll in the valley

The weather forecast for this weekend is of several rain showers throughout the day, so the moment I saw some sun out and the clouds were apart from each other, I decided to take a risk and go for a walk. After a very stressful and busy week at work, I thought this might do the trick and help me relax for a while.

Some of the scenery I came across:

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The stroll in the valley close by was successful, and I have a bigger smile on my face now 🙂

Happy weekend folks!

Sunday’s Valley Walk

It has become a tradition more or less, than on Sundays after lunch, weather permitting, I go for a walk in the country side. During this time of the year, nature is at its best. The grass and the trees are at their greenest.

Today, the weather has been rainy at times, but sunny at others. We left for the walk while it was sunny, but an hour later, when we made it home, it started pouring. I guess I could say we were quite lucky.

Some photos from the walk:

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This valley is located in between Qormi, Zebbug and Siggiewi. There are a number of entrances to this paradise.