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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Europe, Part 8 · Swabian Castles

(parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

I'm so excited about the post today!! :-)  This day's sites were a serious case of "Pinterest Win"- I saw both castles on Ye Trusty Olde Pinterest and knew that I had to work them into the itinerary- by hook or by crook!  Thankfully, I was in charge of planning the trip, so no crimes were necessary.  A bit of "scenic driving" was needful, but thankfully our drive really was scenic, so we didn't mind the extra time. ;-)

Unfortunately, this is also the time when I realize I should have written down specifics a while ago... the details of each castle are starting to slip away, so this post will be mainly eye candy.  With a healthy dash of potentially-inaccurate-so-feel-free-to-correct-me information. ;-)

We left Berchtesgadener Land in the morning and drove across to Swabia.  The drive was enjoyable  and our weather forecast for the day looked risky but promising.  As the day ended up, we could easily just name this day "We Successfully Avoid Any and All Rain By the Skin of Our Teeth".  It was such a blessing!  I know we would have had a nice time with rain, but really.... dry weather makes for better touristing. ;-)

First stop- Lichtenstein Castle!

Otherwise known as the "I Can't Believe It's Not Photoshop" castle.
Personally, I still can't believe it's not photoshopped.

This castle is a little bit more off the beaten tourist trail than most that we visited, and I'm not really sure why.... It's amazing.  However, one drawback is the fact that the tours are definitely not catered to English speakers.  I'll give them a pass since it is a foreign-speaking country, after all.  English handouts were provided for the tour, but they left quite a bit too much to the imagination.  Or confusion, as the case was.  Our tour guide was friendly and informed us that she also spoke English, so we could ask any questions.  Over half of our group were English-only, but as the tour progressed it became apparent that there was really never a good time to ask questions.  It really felt like an issue with the way the tour was set up rather than the docent being purposefully unhelpful, so all-in-all it was still enjoyable.

As usual, photos were not permitted inside, so you'll have to just leave it up to your imagination!  Or.... you could just look up the castle's website. ;-)

(by the way, I just went to their website and they have pictures of the castle in the snow- now doesn't that sound enchanting??)

The castle was built in 1840-42 by the current owner's great-grandfather.  There were 2 different castles over the centuries in this area, but they both were completely destroyed.  The current castle was inspired by the book "Lichtenstein" and was built as a hunting lodge/vacation home.

The castle is cozy and feels rather like a family home.  Well, except for the part where you cross a bridge over a chasm to arrive and, you know, other things like that. ;-)
On the grounds there were several other buildings that were equally photogenic!

The views from the castle down into the valley were pretty wonderful, too! :-)
To sum up- visit Lichtenstein.  It's amazing.

Next stop- Hohenzollern Castle!

If our day should have been titled "We Successfully Avoid Any and All Rain By the Skin of Our Teeth", it could by equal merit earn the title "Lily Schedules the Itinerary Tightly (As Per Usual) But We're All Able to Enjoy Ourselves and Do All The Things".  Thankfully. ;-)  

I tend to cram as much into each day as possible, but due to my sister having chronic Lyme Disease, we needed to keep this trip on the "light and easy" side.  Although looking back on the trip, it was all still crammed pretty full.... ;-P  Our final destination for this "travel day" was Mannheim.  And yes, for those of you who are keeping track of distances.... that's not an insignificant distance.  Lichtenstein and Hohenzollern are fairly close to being on the way however, so we were able to fit both of them in our day. :-)

On the avoiding rain front, we managed to leave Lichtenstein literally just as the first raindrops started.  It rained substantially on our drive and by the time we arrived at Hohenzollern, we all put on raincoats and got out our umbrellas!  The rain was over however and on the walk up to the castle, the sun started popping out from the clouds.  We arrived at the castle quite hungry and ready for refreshment, so we ordered a delicious lunch of authentic Swabian dishes from the wonderful castle restaurant!

Just before lunch, we had inquired about English tours and were informed that we had just missed the only one of the day, so we were given copies of the in-depth English guidebook to get us up to speed before joining a German-speaking tour.  It was super thoughtful of her to let us borrow them and the castle has such interesting history that it made for fun reading over lunch. :-)

Meanwhile, it was pouring and windy outside, but by the time we were done with lunch and ready to join a tour, it was sunny again!  It continued raining on and off through the day, but never when we were outside.  Ah, the charmed life. ;-)

As it turned out, they decided to have another English tour that day and we were on it!  Hurray!  The tour itself covered most of the same information as the guidebook, but there were lots of new things (as well as lots to look at!).  I think my favorite part was the entry hall whose walls are painted with the family tree going back centuries.  I wish we could do that at home.... ;-)

This castle was also built in the 1800s, but it was built for Royalty- the Prussians!  (confession time- I always assumed Prussia was next to Russia... I feel like I have a lot of re-learning to do... And yes, I'm embarrassed.  I shouldn't admit things like this in public. :-P)  The castle definitely had a more regal feel than Lichtenstein, as well as being much larger.  But still no pictures were allowed inside. :-/

One thing that I didn't realize before reading the guide book- this is the family line of Queen Louise of Prussia!  You know, this Louise!  You know, the owner of this awesome spencer!!  I was smitten with the thought of seeing the Vigee Le Brun portrait (added bonus being that I've never seen a Vigee Le Brun in person yet, and she's a top contender for my favorite artist!) and the spencer (which I've adored it for years!).  I had no idea either would be at the castle before we arrived!  Sooo amazing!  Well, it was half-way amazing, anyway.  Unfortunately, the painting was on loan to an exhibition in Paris. :-(  I noticed the sad bare spot on the wall immediately and had a hard time not moping....  The spencer however was on display in a stand-alone case so all angles were visible!!!  Aggghhh.....  I so wish photos had been allowed. :-(

The castle commands rather wonderful views in all directions!

After climbing a really steep walkway from the parking lot and getting out of breath, we were greeted by this cheery view of the castle- lovely!..but still a hefty hike! ;-P  A shuttle bus is also available for the climb up, and Mom and Gretel took advantage of it. ;-)

On the castle grounds are 2 churches- one each for Protestant and Catholic.  They were both truly beautiful.  On the left is the Protestant which falls in with my love of light, airy majestic gothic styles... however the Catholic ceiling is, quite simply, stunning.  I'm completely on the fence about which was my favorite. :-)

One thing is for certain- this castle does detail extremely well.  Everywhere you look is something beautiful!

Two of the gates leading up to the castle...

... And the view from a distance!

All summed up, these were 2 castles that are definitely not to be missed!  Which is your favorite? :-)


  1. What wonderful buildings - I like the Lichtenstein Castle best - it is like a true fairy tale castle perched on the edge of the cliff!

    I am so pleased that you were lucky with the weather.

  2. The views from both the castles are just magnificent. I would want a view like that! Lichtenstein is amazing how it sits just on the edge of the cliff face. They are both amazing though.

  3. Oh, wow! I think I prefer the Catholic ceiling. That blue and gold is so different and pretty. But the hinges on that door in the photo below the Protestant ceiling? So unique and lovely! Would be neat to try to recreate that on a modern house/cottage. Thanks for sharing your adventure! :)

  4. Hohenzollern is definitely my favorite! But the fact that I can even pick a favorite means that you've saturated the castle-admiring part of my brain. :P Wow!

  5. Lily, you seriously must stop this. You are making me want to travel to Europe so badly! ;) That Catholic Church ceiling though... It's delightful!


    the Middle Sister and Singer

    1. Brigid, Sorry, you'll have to survive the tortures of one more post... but then I promise I'll be done! ;-)

  6. Favorite??? It's hard to choose! I love the perch of Lichtenstein Castle (and those pictures of it with snow are stunning!) it reminds me of a beautiful place to be a hermit. Hohenzollern Castle is so regal and those details are beautiful. It seems more like a place to stay when wanting visitors. So how about one favorite for each purpose? ;) (Personally, I like the Catholic church ceiling better, from your pictures.) Thanks for the adventure!


  7. Breathtakingly gorgeous! How could one not want to make they were a wee child again and play "princess" for hours on end in such elegant castles? :)

    ♥ Jessica

  8. Loved hearing all of your favorites!! Well, and I loved reliving it all while compiling this post... so thanks for giving me an excuse! ;-)

  9. Wow, I wish I could have visited these when I was there! We say Linderhof and Neuschwannstein. Nice to know there will be more to see when I am lucky enough to go again.



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