Wednesday, August 17, 2011
A Fancy and AUTHENTIC Castle
This is Burg Eltz. Pretty cool, huh?
Okay, I admit it, this is actually a picture I took of the front of the brochure I picked up at the castle. Lame, I know. But I had to show you what the castle is supposed to look like. This is what the castle actually looked like when we visited on Saturday:
Not quite so picturesque. The construction is supposed to be finished before next summer, so perhaps we can go again with visitors and see it in its newly-renovated glory. We each got a commemorative coin for our support of Burg Eltz and our patience with the renovation, though.
Now, to begin at the beginning: we met our friends Tim and Kimberly (formerly of Oakland, now of Frankfurt) in Koblenz on Saturday morning, where we caught a train to Moselkern, a tiny town on the Mosel River. From the Moselkern train station we walked for about 90 minutes through very pretty countryside to get to Burg Eltz. Here's a picture of us on the trail. (Hooray for friends who take pictures of us AND speak much better German than we do!)
And here's a view from the bridge leading to the castle:
Burg Eltz is a serious castle. It was built between the 12th and 17th centuries by the Eltz family, one branch of which still lives in the castle. There used to be three branches of the Eltz family in the castle. One died off (they only had daughters) and one sold their part of the castle to the third branch. The castle has never been destroyed, which makes it something of an anomaly. It's also furnished and decorated primarily with its original contents (collected by the family over several centuries). We saw 15th-century beds, 14th-century tapestries, 12th-century chests, etc, etc. Here's a tapestry I loved. Pictured are the nine muses plus a god-goddess pair; I'm not sure which. (Julia, any guesses? They're brother and sister AND husband and wife. Does that narrow it down at all?)
(Yes, this is also a picture of a picture. Photography is not allowed inside the castle.)
This is a view from inside the courtyard where our tour began. (It was in English. Hooray.) The glass in the windows was made by blowing balls of glass and then smashing them into discs. This glass is in almost every window in each of the castle's 100+ rooms. On a side note, this is perhaps the first original window glass we've seen in a significant pre-1945 building since we've been here. One is reminded of the devastation of World War II every time one enters a church in Germany.
We also got to see the castle's treasury/armory. It was most impressive. Here is a selection of cool items. (There are more on our Flickr.)
There were dozens of these intricate gold and silver objets d'art (some of which were supposedly complicated drinking vessels or candelabra). This is one of a series of three Greek guys holding spheres.
There was lots of beautiful china.
This guy has a different expression on each of his four sides, and each eye is shared between two sides. Pretty clever.
The list of cool things we can show you if you come visit us continues to grow!
P.S. This picture is on a sign near the Moselkern train station pointing the way to Burg Eltz. We were afraid they might not let us into the castle because we hadn't gotten the memo on proper German hiking and castle-visiting apparel. Kimberly and I left our skirts and pointy bras at home, and Tyler (and as far as I know, Tim) doesn't own a Peter Pan hat.
P.P.S. Tyler would like me to mention that he took his new toy for a spin the other day along the Rhine, and he liked it very much.