What Can Happen in Less Than a Week…
Day 2- Part 1 (Germany)
Our second day began with a foggy mist and low gray clouds that added to the mystic of visiting Burg Hohenzollern as our first of two stops in Germany. The luscious green pastures, hills and forestry with an occasional homestead or small village tucked in the middle were a sight to behold.
Below, with the help of Wikipedia is a brief history of Hohenzollern Castle:
Hohenzollern Castle: Burg Hohenzollern is the ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern. The third of three hill top castles built on the site, it is located atop Mout Hohenzollern, above and south of Hechingen, on the edge of the in Swabain Jura of central Baden – Wurttemberg, Germany.
The first castle on the mountain was constructed in the early 11th century. Over the years the House of Hohenzollern split several times, but the castle remained in the Swabian branch, the dynastic seniors of the Franconian-Brandenburgian cadet branch. that later acquired its own imperial throne. This castle was completely destroyed in 1423 after a ten-month siege by the free imperial cities of Swabia.
The second castle, a larger and sturdier structure, was constructed from 1454 to 1461, which served as a refuge for the Catholic Swabian Hohenzollerns, including during the Thirty Years’ War. By the end of the 18th century it was thought to have lost its strategic importance and gradually fell into disrepair, leading to the demolition of several dilapidated buildings.
The third, and current, castle was built between 1846 and 1867 as a family memorial by Hohenzollern scion King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Architect Friedrich August Stüler based his design on English Gothic Revival architecture and the Châteaux of the Loire Valley. No member of the Hohenzollern family was in permanent or regular residence when it was completed, and none of the three German Emperors of the late 19th and early 20th century German Empire ever occupied the castle; in 1945 it briefly became the home of the former Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, son of the last Hohenzollern monarch, Kaiser Wilhelm II.
Among the historical artifacts of Prussian history contained in the castle are the Crown of Wilhelm II, some of the personal effects of King Frederick the Great, and a letter from US President George Washington thanking Hohenzollern descendant Baron von Steuben for his service in the American Revolutionary War.
We boarded a shuttle bus that expertly maneuvered the steep winding road, barely wide enough for the vehicle when suddenly an automobile would come speeding down from the opposite direction, each quickly adjusting to let the other pass by. We tried to imagine those who lived here centuries before with no paved road and the only means of transportation being a horse or two straining against the weight of a carriage and supplies or patrons that it held.
As we surveyed the grounds and made our way toward the entrance of the castle, it was hard not to consider how many souls were both born and died in this place. If these walls could talk… We crossed two small draw bridges followed by stoned paths where carriages of the past and now automobiles made their way up to the main areas of the castle.
While the castle is massively large, we only saw small portions of it and were not allowed to take pictures once inside, but its interior felt warm and comfortable and the areas we saw were meticulously maintained and cared for. One sitting room contained several photos of past ancestors as well as the current Prince and Princess of Prussia (better explained in the link below). We were told that they were in the castle somewhere on the day of our visit and that we may see their young children playing in the yard. The family actually resides in Berlin, but they were in town for a fund raiser held at the castle the previous evening.
There are two chapels on the property. The one above was especially beautiful (more formal) with walls painted to look like flowing drapery with ropes and fringe. Below the view of the village from above through the clouds.
There is a cafe’ inside the walls of castle with a seasonal menu and a beer garden outside. Due to the rainy day, we chose to have a nice lunch in the cafe’. Below is spaetzle, with beef cheeks in red wine sauce, cheese spaetzle and a German salad. All were tasty, but I especially brought home the idea of the salad. Mixed baby greens tossed in a light vinaigrette on top, while tucked benefit are little surprises. This salad had a smashed boiled potato, finely julienned carrots, zucchini, and radishes. Something about those little pieces of vegetable in the bottom made the salad delicious and filling.
In order to walk through the castle, everyone was required to wear these funny large slippers over their shoes. To keep them on, required more of a skating motion as we moved through the rooms rather than normal steps.
We circled the exterior before leaving to take in the view below. Large bronzed statues of several Kings past were displayed along the outer walls and mountain goats grazed along the hillside.
Across from the cafe’ was an interesting and well stocked gift shop, where I purchased two items I was hoping to find somewhere along the trip. Thanks to the great eyes of my two friends one found a sterling silver crown charm to add to my travel bracelet and the other found a journal with an elegant cover made in Germany. I have kept journals for years and this one will conjure up the beautiful memories of this week of travel and time with friends.
Now on to our second half of the day… the Black Forest!