Our last week in Germany was spent tooling around in a rental car. While we love walking around historic sites, touring churches, signing up for local tours and utilizing public transportation, sometimes you just need your own wheels. 🙂
Our first castle was the one that overlooks Heidelberg. You could take the easy way and ride the funicular to the top, or walk the stairs – which was our decision. Yep, we’re stopping for photos, not because we’re out of breath……..
Then, we saw this amazing biker. He and his friend were going down the stairs on their bikes – crazy. At least they have helmets on.
We get to the top and find this great photo spot.
Here are a few historical facts:
- Construction started before 1214 and dominates the view of the town.
- Has a history of construction, numerous attacks, lightning strikes, abandonment, demolition, re-construction – you get the picture – always changing or being attacked.
- It was only partially rebuilt since demolition in the 17th & 18th centuries and a portion has remained as ruins.
- It’s considered an architectural masterpiece of the Renaissance and attracts over a million visitors annually.
We were able to participate in an English-speaking tour and go inside the parts that had been rebuilt.
The wood architectural elements were amazing.
We finished in the chapel……….
……before seeing one of the castle’s inhabitants.
Some of the overlooks seen in the first photo at the top, allows photos like the one below.
We continued our search for castle ruins by heading out-of-town with our first stop being the city of Dilsberg.
This ruin overlooks the Neckar Valley and the houses surrounding the ruin on the hilltop are fully livable and it’s basically a small town.
Continuing the trend of historical facts:
- It was a medieval fortification with the first documentation dating to the 1200s.
- It was the administrative authority for the surrounding villages.
- During numerous fierce battles and defeats, the fortress remained largely undamaged.
- It appears as a ruin today due to the past practice of impoverished people, tearing down castles to build their own houses.
It appeared we were the first visitors that morning and had the site to ourselves. I didn’t expect to find this staircase and get another view of the surrounding area………..from the very top!
From above, I saw this interesting pattern of branches. We ran into someone and he explained it was a well and it was to prevent kids and others from getting too close and possibly falling in due to the unstable groundwork.
Eric and I found this chocolate shop as we were heading out and couldn’t resist a mid-morning treat. What’s a little chocolate after breakfast? 🙂
Naturally I found some floral shots as we walked around the small town and this mural on the side of one of the houses.
When on top of this castle ruin, we could see other structures in the distance, which possibly could be more castle ruins – Rich was right, they were. After a little internet research, we discovered four castles, their location and their story. They are called ‘The Castles of Neckarsteinach’. This ensemble of four castles is unique in Germany and attracted attention in the early 19th century. They were built between the 12th and 14th centuries and while they were built by different nobles, ultimately they were taken over by one family. Today, two are ruins and two are in private hands and not available to tour.
We first reached The Hinterburg castle ruins.
Then it was on to the next castle ruins further up the hill.
After an upward trek, we found Castle Schadeck – The Swallows Nest.
It is considered the youngest of the castles of Neckarsteinach and the emblematic landmark of the town.
Again, surprisingly, we found a staircase and were able to reach the top for more amazing views.
Now I’m turning to the part of the title that is ‘not’. We found several palaces that were built, kind of the next upgrade from a castle. The first one we visited was the Mannheim Baroque Palace and it was built when the Prince Elector in the 1700s transferred the center of power from Heidelberg to Mannheim.
The complex is used for a variety of offices and only a few rooms and floor were part of the tour. A nice part of this tour were audio guides in English – love it! At the beginning of the tour, you listen to some history and see some amazing chandeliers. I think I have more than six photos of different ones we saw on our tour.
This dining area had another chandelier, but also a full setting of dinnerware.
There were lots of molding all around these rooms and I couldn’t resist these few shots. This was in the alcove for each of the windows (and there were numerous windows).
A lot of the details were directed by the widow, Katherine.
So here’s a bit of info:
- Intended to be the second largest Baroque palace complex in Europe, after Versailles.
- Interior was one of the ‘wonders’ of European architecture for the time.
- One interesting visitor was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
- Unfortunately it was severely damaged during WWII. Any remodeling has tried to stay true to the original design.
At the end of our tour, we saw the library. It was beautiful. Where are the shelves or bookcases for the books? The walls were designed to hide them.
We also saw these amazing tapestries. The more you looked at them, the more animals you saw. Karen and I just stood looking at them and comparing notes for the number of animals we saw.
Our last palace to visit was the Ludwegsburg Residential Palace in Schwetzinger. Tours were only in German, unless pre-arranged. That left the gardens for us to tour – which were impressive and far-reaching.
I enjoyed the palaces, but I think I like the ruins more.