Last year, for my husband’s birthday, we decided to take a trip to Bavaria and marvel at it’s lovely castles. We liked the journey so much that wanted to repeat it somewhere else, this time for my birthday.
There are more than 20 000 castles in Germany, so the choice which one to visit was hard. After all, the most important things in our consideration were an airport nearby and suitable place to sleep and travel from every day.
After spending much time staring at the map and checking through all the accommodation sites I know, we bought tickets to Cologne with Ryanair. The trip was suppose to happen in June, from 12 to 16th. Unfortunately they decided to change the flight times with unsuitable ones so at the end we flew to Frankfurt with Wizz air. The cost of the tickets (two adults and an almost four years old child) were 210 lv/155 euro.
We took a rental car from the airport, since there was no chance to make all of my plans with public transport. We booked it through Rentalcars and for the first time with Budget. Everything went smooth, we got Renault Capture, comfortable and suitable for the three of us.
But, let the real trip begin 🙂 We landed on time in Frankfurt, got our car and rushed to Braubach – small village near Koblenz, where we were about to stay in the next few days. A village is an understatement, it had three streets, one shop and two pubs. Oh, and let’s not forget – a castle…
It was perfect for us – calm, near to most of our aims and on normal price. We booked the apartment through Airbnb, here it is. Checking in was the last thing we did that day, after all we landed at 6 PM.
I had made a huge lists of castles to visit and it turned out that there were even more around us. Just in the short distance between Braubach and Koblenz there were three!
It wasn’t possible to see them all, so we started the list by the most beautiful ones 🙂 Our first stop was Burresgheim – located at northwest of Mayen on a rock spur in the Nettetal. It belongs to the local church Sankt Johann. Together with Burg Eltz and the castle Lissingen, it is one of the few castles in the Eifel that were never conquered or devastated and were able to survive unscathed the wars of the 17th and 18th centuries as well as the social upheavals of the French Revolution.
During the Middle Ages, Schloss Bürresheim palace was actually a castle, in other words, a knight’s residence and a fortress at the same time. Even so, the name “Schloss”, or “palace”, is certainly appropriate, since the magnificent interior design of this Rhenish residential castle leaves visitors dreaming of eras gone by and Snow White. All the generations of residents have contributed a large amount of furniture and numerous paintings, as well as other furnishings.
At the same time, Schloss Bürresheim, incidentally like all castles, consists not only of a single building, but of a keep, many walls, gates, towers and passages, as well as a great hall and, in addition, an excellently preserved guildhall from the 17th century. Over the course of its varied history, the palace has repeatedly been added to and converted. After the last residents transferred ownership of the palace to the federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate, extensive renovation measures were conducted, which also included the restoration of the original Baroque gardens.
The working hours are quite curious. From 1st February to 14th March – only Saturday, Sunday and on official holidays from 10.00 till 17.00. From 15th March to 31st October – everyday from 10.00 to 18.00 and from 01st November to 01 February – again only on weekends. Despite this information, when we got there, in June, it worked only on the weekends. We saw it on the outside, which was more than enough.
The next stop, thanks to a lady following my blog, was Drachenburg or the Dragon Castle. As the name suggests it was amazing, beautiful and with interesting history.
There’s no need to explain the joy of driving on the German roads and the lack of problems. This region here, at least for me, in nature and views, looked a lot like Bulgaria, only cleaner and well maintained.
The trip took us an hour and we passed the city of Bonn. The parking is near the castle, but you’ll have to walk on a little hill for a while. You can pay with machines and must leave the ticket on your windshield. Here are the prices:
The minimum price is 2 euro or three hours which are more than enough to see the castle, but if you want to visit the old ruins you’ll need more.
During the short walk you’ll see an outdoor pool, Nibelunghalle – building with paintings from Wagner’s opera ” The Ring of Nibelung”, a dragon cave, built in 1933 and housing a dragon sculpture and finally, a little reptile zoo. We didn’t have enough time to see it, but one may find it interesting. The entry is 6 euro per adult and 4 for children over four years.
After this detour and a turn later you stumble upon the entrance of the castle. It is a separate building, designed in the same style, where you can buy your tickets, some souvenirs and a coffee or tea. The entrance costs 7 euro for adults and 5 for kids. Here are the working hours:
January and February: 12 – 17o’clock
Mart till June: 11-18
July and August: 11-19
September till 24th November: 12-17
Siegfried, the hero of the Nibelungenlied, is said to have slayed the dragon Fafnir here and bathed in its blood to become invulnerable. The history alone is enough of a reason to visit.
More down to earth, the castle is located in the seven hills of Siebengebirge between Königswinter and Bad Honnef. Drachenfels is a hill within the Siebengebirge uplands and looks down at the Rhine from a height of 1,053 feet (321 meters). The rock of the mountain was formed by an ancient volcano and was used as a trachyte quarry in Roman times. The stone from the site was used to build the iconic Cologne Cathedral.
Today’s visitors usually come for the picturesque Schloss Drachenburg, a neogothic castle from 1882 commissioned by Baron Stephan von Sarter. It has had numerous private owners, each leaving an eccentric twist on the castle (think potential Zeppelin landing pad, amusement park, and 1970s disco parties).
After von Sarter’s death in 1902 the castle went to his nephew – Jakob Biesenbach . Jacob wanted to remodel it and turn it into and elite hotel. Drachenburg used to have an exquisite picture gallery, where von Sarter used to display his enormous and valuable collection.
After getting his inheritance, Jakob sold the collection so he can keep up with the huge amount of money needed to maintain the palace. The ownership of the palace changed a few times after his death, turning it from catholic school to training center for the German rail. When Adolf Hitler came to power he turned the palace into his National Social Military school.
The Second World War and it’s war acts didn’t pass by Drachenburg and it is almost completely ruined and ransacked. The period after the war was also hard and it was left neglected and in ruins. But it rose from the ashes like a phoenix, thanks to Paul Spinat. He saved the unique building in 1972 when he bought the ruins and completely restored them in just one year. He moved and lived there till his death in 1989, but leaved the palace open to public.
Schloss Drachenburg was eventually listed as a monument in 1986. In 1989, urgent measures for full restoration were initiated by the North Rhine-Westphalia Foundation of Nature, Heritage & Culture. Since 1995, in close collaboration with the City of Königswinter, this NRW foundation has supervised the careful restoration of the castle complex.
And here are some lovely views to the river:
These two were the farthest from our place, so it was time to go home. The route took us through Koblenz, it was time for diner and we decided to stop and see a bit from it. Koblenz is situated at the junction of two of Europe’s most important rivers: the Mosel and Rhine. It is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage “Oberes Mittelrheintal” (Upper Middle Rhine Valley). In more than 2000 years of history Koblenz saw many armies come and go but the city kept the best of all conquests.
We parked our car near the Elector’s Palace – one of the most important palatial buildings in the French early Classicism style in south-western Germany, and is one of the last residential palaces that was built in Germany shortly before the French revolution. It was erected between 1777–1793. In the mid-19th century, the Prussian Crown Prince (later Emperor Wilhelm I) had his official residence there during his years as military governor of the Rhine Province and the Province of Westphalia. It now houses various offices of the federal government. It has been almost completely destroyed in 1944, but was restored during 1950/51.
Then we saw the Prussian government building – built in the neo-romantic style from 1902 to 1906, the building was the seat of the former Prussian government for the Koblenz Rhine province region and the main control office.
Kaiser Wilhelm II personally made changes to the plans for the towers and roofs in order to make a connection to the Staufer period. The result was a 158-metre long Wilhelmine neo-romantic style complex with two internal courtyards with side wings, which even today characterises the image of the Rhine front.
The view from the river bank:
We sat down to have our favourite curry wurst but were surprised with such heavy rain that the only escape was to run to the car and get back home…Naturally, there are plenty other things to see and enjoy in Koblenz, but apparently it will be at another time 🙂
I’m finishing this already too long diary and heading to start the next one, dedicated to Cologne. Stay tuned and don’t forget to travel!