Tag Archives: ww2

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.


Auschwitz – A change of heart

If there was one place that I visited in Poland, which has impacted my life it’s Auschwitz. Although I read, view documentaries and discussed this place and what happened here a multitude of times, I could not have imagined what the people have went through.

Welcome to Auschwitz

Being there, in one of the coldest days in Poland in the last ten years, I began to imagine, how these innocent people must have felt. They arrived in this destination, feeling uneased, terrified of what’s next… taken away from their loved ones. They were stripped down off their clothes and possessions. Freezing cold, working harder than you ever thought possible, malnutritioned. Did you know that these workers on average didn’t last a week? And those, were the lucky ones. The rest, well you probably already know what happened to them.

I felt sadness, a heavy heart, bad things transpired here.


What I did not know before going to Auschwitz was to how many men, women and children this happened. Although I was familiar with the numbers, I could not quantify it. In a few words, a section of this museum (it’s no longer referred as a concentration camp) is dedicated to “Proof”. Here, you can see an abundant amount of what was left behind – shoes, hair, utensils, luggage. This was what made my heart slow down with pain and disgust, what really angered me. Now, I understood. Now, I know that this was one of the worst, if not the worst experiment that ever happened in the world.  I felt humiliated to be called human, I hope that such a thing never happens again. Although we were not alive then, we should still be aware of what occurred, and we have to be intelligent enough to not let it happen ever again.

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All photos are my own, please seek permission before making use of them. Thank you.

Llandaff Cathedral, Wales

Possibly one of the most underrated cathedrals in Wales, can be found in Llandaff, in the outskirts of North Cardiff. The Anglican cathedral is extraordinary, both visually and historically.

On the 2nd of January, 1941; during world war 2, Cardiff suffered the worst bombing of the war. With around 165 people killed and another 427 seriously injured, the city was at a chaotic state. The UK’s major towns and cities have been bombarded by then. And so, was Llandaff. Landmines have fell and exploded in the churchyard, cathedral spire and the roof. It destroyed many a graves, but especially the roof which collapsed inwards destroying most of the furnishings. Luckily a lot of its valuables such as the Victorian stained glass was taken out and put into into storage, and there was no outbreak of fire.

The architect, wanted to restructure the remaining parts of the cathedral by including a modern additional plaque to support the building itself and give it a new feature. To this day, visitors comment about this choice; you either love it, or hate it!




Schloss Drachenburg

Built in the 1880s, Schloss Drachenburg is a fairy tale castle. The architecture is full on romantic Gothic, with spires, the style of a medieval cathedral and a beautiful clock tower. It stands on a hill above the Rhine River, with beautiful breathtaking view of the said river.


A story from the German folklore says, that Siefried has slayed a dragon up on this very mountain, which the castle gets the name from. Drachenburg, translates to Dragon’s castle in English. The actual story of this castle is however less glamorous as it was commissioned by a rich stock broker. Funnily enough it was built in two years, yet recently a 15-year restoration was completed for 31.5 million euro.

Completed in 1884, the castle started off as a private villa, then was converted into a museum, which later on was used as an “Adolf Hitler” college for boys. To this day, you can still see holes from the US artillery fires, as they smashed the stained glass windows and facade in the last months of the war. It was at this time that the Nazi schoolboys decided to stop resisting against the americans.

The inside of the castle is full of German art and craftsmanship.

See below, some photos I took of a day well-spent in the Dragon’s castle.

Such a dreamy castle!

Mosta Dome

The Parish Church of Saint Mary, is popularly known as the Rotunda or the Mosta dome due to its large dome; which can be seen from most parts of Malta.

The church was designed by a Maltese architect called Giorgio Grognet de Vassé. The church’s design was closely based on the Pantheon in Rome; 6 columned portico with a circular 39.6m diameter dome. It was built between the 1833 and 1860 with funds raised by the local people.


During World War 2 in 1942, a bomb fell through the church and it didn’t detonate. This was considered as a miracle especially since around 300 people were in the church waiting for the mass to commence. A replica of the said bomb is available to see in the sacristy, left of the altar.


Qormi Air-Raid War Shelters

Casal Fornaro is an event that happens in my home town Qormi, on a yearly basis. This is a festival which celebrates bread, and how it represented the town through the years, even during wars. During the time when the island was under attack, bread was made out of rice and tasted horrible, but at least it ensured that the citizens had something to eat. Nowadays the city of Qormi is still renowned for bread and together, we celebrate an event full of bread, pastries and culture.

On this day, the two local war shelters are open for the public, and to me, these deserve a visit every year.

In one of the shelters there is a re-enactment from World War 2, explaining the situation of the poor and the politicians. Then you are allowed to roam around the shelter and imagine for yourself what life was like during that time. The re-enactment happens in Maltese which is a disadvantage for any tourists visiting, however one can still visually appreciate the surroundings.




In the second war shelter, there is a bread exhibition sponsored by the leading bakery ‘MayPole’ – One can find fancy bread available in the shelter just for viewing as can be seen in the images below.


One is able to buy similar bread through the many stalls in the festival as well as from their bakery any other day of the year.

The Malta Story

Keeping in mind that I have lived overseas, and that I know a number of foreigners, I have been asked countless times about Malta. What makes it so unique? Why are we so attached to the British? Why is our language so weird, and where did it come from?

Today, I came across the below picture. I would imagine this explains a lot:



    • The Order of the Knights of St. John made it to malta in 1530. In 1561 the inquisition was established and 4 years later we had the Great Siege by the Ottoman Turks. The Ottoman troops eventually retreated, but they did lose around 9,000 men in this battle. The siege ended as a victory in favour of the Maltese on the 8th of September, which is to this day a bank holiday in Malta. A year later, Valletta was designed and founded and named Valletta of course after our star; the Grand Master Jean de La Vallette. He was buried within the capital city roughly three years later, and it was unfortunate that he didn’t see his vision of Valletta finalised.
    • In 1798, the Napolean Bonaparte took Malta from the hands of the Knights.
    • Just a year later, Britian takes Malta and the french surrendered. It was only in 1814 that Malta becomes a Britian Crown Colony. Within the British Period, Malta has participated in the First World war, and later at fought during the second world war. In 1964, we were given independence within the British Commonwealth and 10 years later Malta became a Republic. The last British services left the Maltese islands in 1979.
    • Recently, in 2004 Malta joined the European Union and 4 years later the Eurozone.

Source: http://www.visitmalta.com

Tribute to Christopher Lee

I do not go ape-shit crazy over every famous legend, that passes away… But, Christopher Lee deserves a mention.

christopher leeWho is Christopher Lee?
– He is one of a kind.
He was born in 1922, in England and has died due to heart failure at the age of 93.
– He has been given credit for 281 acting jobs (movies and series).
– Out of all these films around 90% of the time he acted as a villain.
– He participated during World War II, where he served his country in the Royal Air Force and in British Intelligence.
– He is a very tall man; 1.96m.
– One of his movies is still to be released next year.

What is he mostly known for?
– Christopher Lee, is Saruman in Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit.
– Christopher Lee has portrayed three different characters in the Sherlock Holmes Series: Sherlock Holmes, Mycroft – Holmes and Sir Henry Baskerville.
– Christopher Lee has been Dracula several times.
– Christopher Lee is the voice of Count Dooku in Star Wars.
– Christopher Lee is also a singer and he has released his last mini-album at the age of 92.

Memories I will treasure forever:

From the Hobbit: The Battle of 5 Armies
Saruman: “Leave Sauron to me”

Christopher Lee singing “My Way”. Elvis’ cover version turned into heavy metal

Siggiewi World War Shelters

So, I have been slightly quiet the last few days, but I guess I needed some me time, as I have been very busy with work. I have made two new friends over the weekend, which was great too.

On Sunday, the Siggiewi World War Shelters opened for the very first time. There were a lot of people so it was difficult to get a lot of pictures. But this will give you a brief idea. For those who have been to Siggiewi, these shelters are right under the main piazza, so they are pretty massive. I used to think that the ones in Qormi are quite big, but it’s nothing compared to these shelters; corridors upon corridors, with small rooms which the families themselves dug to have their own private space.

Great work done by the Siggiewi Local Council who opened this for the public.

20150329 - Siggiewi World War Shelters (1) copy

20150329 - Siggiewi World War Shelters (2) copy

20150329 - Siggiewi World War Shelters (3) copy