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Neues Palais (Potsdam)

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The Neues Palais, or New Palace, in Potsdam may neither be the most famous nor the most beautiful of the city's plentiful palaces, yet there is something incredibly fascinating about the place for it seems the one where it is easiest to meet history. If the walls of the palace originally built by Friedrich the Great could talk, they would have quite a story to tell. All that culminates in one of the first rooms you get to see when visiting the palace: Worn-out wall coverings, old masters, missing paintings, a graffiti by Soviet soldiers, a contrasting red Baroque chair - there are few places where you can get so close to the changing history of Germany. Like so many of Potsdam's palaces, the Neues Palais owes its existence to King Friedrich II of Prussia, better known as 'the Great'. In difference to his other palaces, Friedrich never intended to use the New Palace as a residence for himself but instead as a place to stay for his guests. While one of the last examples…

Rebuilding Destroyed Castles: New Purposes for Old Buildings

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We have covered hundreds and hundreds of castles here on Castleholic, most of them in Germany. With their history even more diverse than their architecture, there is, however, one decisive time period that comes up in almost any castle's history: World War II and its consequences for the (former) royal or noble residences. Especially the urban palaces and castles suffered heavily during the days of the war, be it air raids or shelling towards the end of the war. While many palaces were heavily damaged and later rebuilt, others were razed to the ground to make room for more functional buildings, car parks or something more suitable with post-war life in Germany. 
However, the 21st first century has seen the resurrection of a number of palaces leveled to the ground in the years and decades after the war after initial damage, be it the city residences of Potsdam, Brunswick and Berlin or the Baroque palace of Herrenhausen in Hanover. Naturally, rebuilding monuments to Germany's p…

Festung Hohensalzburg

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Towering high above the town of Salzburg is the Festung Hohensalzburg. The fortress is one of Austria's most visited tourist destinations, actually the most visited outside of Vienna, and it's not hard to guess why. Built at the behest of the Prince-Archbishops of Salzburg with a length of 250 metres and a width of 150 metres, it is one of the largest medieval castles in Europe and spans a history of almost 1000 years. It was in the year 1077 that Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein commanded the construction of the fortress overlooking the Salzach river and the surrounding valley on four sides. It is likely that a wooden fortification had already been situated on the hill previously.
During the following years, decades and centuries, his successors developed and expanded the Festung to represent and protect their ever-growing powers that also included the secular rule over the Prince-Archbishopric. Archbishop Konrad I (1106-1147) added a keep and also during the 12th and 13 c…

Gallery of Schloss Herrenhausen

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Have you ever wondered where the picture on the top of this website that is also our profile picture on various social media channels was taken? It is one of the most iconic views of the Baroque-style Great Garden of the Herrenhausen Gardens in Hanover. The building in the picture, the Gallery, is actually one of the few buildings of the ensemble preserved in its original state.  Unfortunately, most people will never get to see its interior as the Galerie isn't usually open to the public. If you have a few (more) spare euros lying around, you can rent it for your wedding or birthday celebration - or whatever kind of celebration floats your boat - but it is not part of a tour of the Herrenhausen Gardens or the rebuilt Schloss Herrenhausen. So how did I get in? This weekend were the European Heritage Days. The annual programme offers opportunities to visit buildings, monuments and sites, many of which are not normally accessible to the public - and the Gallery of Schloss Herrenhaus…

A Royal Celebration: The Origins of the Oktoberfest

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When the average person thinks of a "German", they probably think of a beer-loving and sausage-eating individual dressed in Dirndls and Lederhosen. The reason for this stereotype? Probably the Oktoberfest, the world's largest beer festival and funfair taking place in Munich - and here's the unexpected twist - from mid-September to the first weekend of October every year. But did you know that the Wiesn, as they are also known in Germany, boast a very royal origin?
In 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria, the future King Ludwig I (grandfather of the much more famous Ludwig II), married Princess Therese of Saxe-Hildburghausen. Surrounding their wedding on October 12, there were several public and private celebrations held over five days. On one of the last days of the celebrations, the citizens of Munich, the Bavarian capital, were invited to attend festivities held on the fields in front of the city gates to celebrate the happy royal event. The fields were named Ther…

Neue Kammern (Potsdam)

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Pssst, today we cover the insider tip of Potsdam's magnificent palaces nestled away in Sanssouci Park. While Schloss Sanssouci itself may have been the most famous of the Potsdam palaces I visited earlier this summer, there was one that was equally impressive but much less visited: The Neue Kammern or New Chambers. It was the party and guest house of Friedrich the Great, so to speak. As Schloss Sanssouci is only a fairly small palace and was exclusively used as a private residence by the King of Prussia, he was in need of a place where splendid balls could be held and his guests could spend the night.  The New Chambers are located to the west of Potsdam's most famous palace serving as a pendant to the Picture Gallery, which lies to the east. The interior of the Neue Kammern was constructed between 1771 and 1775. Already in the late 1760's, Friedrich the Great reached the decision to have the orangery building located on the same site redesigned into a guest palace. It had…