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Schloss St. Emmeram

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The Thurn und Taxis family is one of the most famous German noble families, both in Germany and beyond, also thanks to the current family members, think Princess TnT. However, there are a bit of an unusual noble family beyond the formerly partying lifestyle, as their ancestors never led wars or ruled a country. Yet they were - and still are - insanely rich and their main residence, Schloss St. Emmeram, is often said to be larger than Buckingham Palace. So what did they do? They had a simple idea that revolutionised the world. The Thurn und Taxis invented the modern post system and held the monopoly on postal services throughout the Holy Roman Empire. With the end of the HRE in 1806, the Thurn und Taxis lost their monopoly and ended up getting a pretty nice palace in Regensburg as a compensation. Before it became home for the Thurn und Taxis family, Schloss St. Emmeram was a Benedictine monastery founded around the year 739 at the grave of the Frankish Bishop Saint Emmeram, who was on…

Don't Forget The Spud: Why People Put Potatoes on the Grave of Friedrich the Great

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King Friedrich II of Prussia is famous for many things: His victories on the battlefield that made Prussia one of the leading European powers, his support of the arts, his endorsement of the Enlightenment - and for bringing the potato to Prussia and thus to Germany. While it's hardly imaginable today considering the Germans' love for all things potato, his subjects initially weren't too happy about this strange and exotic plant coming from South America.
Friedrich the Great, locally also known as Old Fritz, introduced the potato to the Kingdom of Prussia in 1743. All throughout the 18th century, famines had ravaged Europe and led to the starvation of thousands of people. Friedrich recognised the affordable and nourishing qualities of the new vegetable previously only thought to be fit to feed animals. However, his people weren't having it. Despite royal orders, the Prussian people were reluctant to grow and eat potatoes.  But Old Fritz had a plan: First, he created ro…

New Developments: The (In)Famous Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg Will Continued

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New developments in the case of the (in)famous Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg will. A local newspaper reports that, after the death of Prince Richard of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg who died last year, there is a family dispute over the inheritance within the family.
To recap: In 1943, Fürst Gustav Albrecht of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg drew up a will for his inheritance. While the exact contents of the will are not known publicly, it is common knowledge that the will includes a stipulation that his heir needs to marry a woman, who is a "Protestant", "aryan" and "noble". Prince Gustav Albrecht, who was the father of the aforementioned Prince Richard, went missing in action in June 1944 while serving as a Nazi officer on a campaign in the Soviet Union. He was declared dead in 1969. It has long been assumed that his will passed over his own son, Richard, in favour of Richard's male heirs to save inheritance taxes. Richard's son Gustav was born in 196…

An Eternal Mystery: Let King Ludwig II Rest In Peace

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An eternal mystery I want to remain, to myself and others.
These may just be the most famous words written by no other than King Ludwig II of Bavaria, alternatively known as the Mad King, the Fairytale King or the Swan King and the mastermind behind some of the world's most famous castles including Schloss Neuschwanstein, Schloss Herrenchiemsee and Schloss Linderhof. Ludwig was King of Bavaria from 1864, ascending to the throne at the age of 18, until his death in 1886. Over time and after Bavaria became a part of the  newly founded German Empire, he withdrew from public life in favour of extravagant artistic and architectural projects. Was he eccentric? Certainly. Was he mad? Who knows. 
Through his various buildings projects, Ludwig II had amassed a great personal debt and though he never used state funds for the construction of his dream palaces, he was a thorn in the side of his ministers. They decided that declaring their King mentally insane would be the easiest way to get him…

Celebrating #PalaceDay: 11 Castles to See When Visiting Germany

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Planning a trip to Germany? Seeing a castle (or two) should definitely be on your list of things to do while in the country. Germany has an abundance of royal and noble homes, after all the country was only united in 1871 and there used to be dozens and hundreds of small states with their own residential towns even until the end of the monarchy one hundred years ago. Estimates say that you would be able to find more than 20,000 castles dotted all over the country. But where to start? Here are eleven castles to see when visiting Germany.
Münchner Residenz
If you visit Germany for the first time, chances are high that your travels will either lead you to Berlin or Munich, the biggest and most famous towns. If you happen to visit the Bavarian capital, make sure to go and see the Residenz, former city home of Wittelsbach family who ruled Bavaria for a staggering 738 years. The summer residence Schloss Nymphenburg may be more famous but if you have a limited amount of time, I really recomm…

Schloss Stadthagen

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Let's go back to the beginning of the year when spring was just around the corner and the first flowers had sprung. On a Sunday afternoon, I went and saw Schloss Stadthagen. Today the seat of the local tax office, it used to be a residence of the Counts and later Princes of Schaumburg-Lippe. Construction started in the year 1535 at the behest of Count Adolf XI of Schaumburg. He commissioned Thuringian master builder Jörg Unkair to draw up the plans for a four-winged castle in the style of the Weser-Renaissance. The Schloss is actually considered the oldest and one of the most influential Weser-Renaissanc style castles in all of Lower Saxony. Master builder Unkair personally chose the sandstone from a local mine. Construction on the castle was already finished four years after it was started. In 1539, the castle became the new residence, seat of government and was also used by the tax and finance authority of the time. Like many other Weser-Renaissance style buildings, the castle …

Schloss Landestrost

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Truth be told, there aren't a lot of splenderous castles to be found around Hanover, the town where I live. By the time Baroque became en vogue, the Guelphs had adopted the concept of primogeniture instead of the division of lands between several sons thus not needing several residential towns anymore - and in 1701 they also got hold of another throne in addition to the Electorate of Hanover, thus making a move to London necessary and some of Hanover's rulers never even made it across the channel to mainland Europe to see their ancestors' home.  There are, however, several Renaissance-style castles in the area though most of didn't have a royal use anymore even during the last decades of the monarchy. One of them is Schloss Landestrost in Neustadt am Rübenberge, just north of Hanover. The castle owes its existence to Duke Erich II of Brunswick-Lüneburg. Erich "the Younger" ruled the Principality of Calenberg-Göttingen, one of the several Guelph principalitie…