Many people refer to a European holiday as the ABC tour (Another bloody church/castle), but for me, every moment was exciting, as it made my imaginary world come to life right in front of my very eyes!
I hope this stirs your imagination and interest you to see these grand, overly decorated majestic buildings.
What I enjoyed most was to see the character of every castle. You can’t help but imagine the people still living there, who they were and what they were like, just by studying their decor and priorities. Some were very sophisticated and had double volume libraries and music rooms. Others were blood thirsty and their castles look like a war zone! They had torture rooms and a nasty welcoming gift at the entrance, where an unwanted guest would receive boiling oil pouring down onto them as they tried to enter!
Swoosh your magic wand a little further south, and you find the most important Renaissance structure north of the Alps, the romantic Heidelberg Castle. This famous ruin - that was home to a dozen kings, leaders and royalty - is the landmark of the beautiful town of Heidelberg. It was destroyed several times over the centuries by lightning, war and fire, and was partly rebuilt, but you can still make out different architectural styles in the ruins. The Castle never regained its original glory, but the ruins have a rugged charm of their own.
This castle was made even more famous with the operetta and movie “The Student Prince”. Who doesn’t know the "Drinking Song” and "I'll Walk with God" - one of my personal favourites, superbly sung by Mario Lanza. In recent years, the operetta is being performed each summer at the Heidelberg Castle Festival.
The main attraction to this castle is possibly the impressive wine cellar. It houses the biggest barrel in the world, holding 55,345 gallons of wine! In former times, the wine growers had to pay their share of taxes by delivering wine to the castle.
There was also a memorial tablet unveiled for Goethe in 1961 - one of Germany's greatest poets. Legend has it that Mark Twain visited the Castle of Heidelberg and during a boat trip on the nearby river Neckar, was inspired to write Huckleberry Finn.
The gardens are a work of art on their own, where you will also find the remains of the "Great Grotto". Rocks were blown up to create this romantic grotto, displaying musical water arts. The walls were abundantly decorated with rare polished stones, shells and corals. Left of the grotto is a pond that contains the famous, and enormous, sandstone sculpture of a resting "Father Rhine".
|King Ludwig 2|
The building was designed in the style of the second rococo-period. Although Linderhof is much smaller than Versailles, it is evident that the palace of the French Sun-King Louis XIV (who was an idol for Ludwig) was its inspiration. The symbol of the sun that can be found everywhere in the decoration of the rooms. The staircase, for example, is a reduction of the famous Ambassador's staircase in Versailles, which would be copied in full in Herrenchiemsee.
It was constructed on a hilltop not for defence, but for the spectacular view. If you think it looks like something straight out of a Disney fairytale, you are quite right. The Disney castle was modelled on this specific castle. The design of Neuschwanstein is medieval, but Ludwig made sure to build in modern technologies of the day, such as flush toilets and heating. With towering turrets in a striking setting, this castle is a huge hit with sightseers. This castle, which is about as old as the Eiffel Tower, is a textbook example of 19th-century Romanticism.
His castles was taken over by the state, and since his death over 60 million people have visited Neuschwanstein alone! They get up to 6000 visitors per day in the summer.