Follow me to the beauty and splendour of the world's castles and palaces
Whenever I tell friends that I am going to visit a castle, there are slightly perplexed that there are still some left. (Hundreds and thousands, in fact.) However, in the vicinity of where I live, there actually aren't too many. By visiting Schloss Herzberg in what was probably the last castle adventure of the year a few weekends ago, I think I crossed the last (publicly open) current and former Guelph castle off the list. (See them all here.)
Truth be told, even though the castle is open to the public, there are not many signs of royal life left for it hasn't been used as a residence in 300 years. Today, Schloss Herzberg is used as the district court and also houses a restaurant in addition to being a museum with one part of it dedicated to the castle's history and the Guelph family who has owned different castles situated on the same hill since 1158. That year, Heinrich (Henry) the Lion received the castle during an exchange of possessions with Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa. Already previously the Guelphs had meddled with the castle's history owning it at different points in time.
For 708 years, the Guelps continued to own the Schloss until the annexation of the Kingdom of Hanover by Prussia in 1866. In 1218, Maria of Brabant, wife of the Holy Roman Emperor, temporarily stayed at the castle. It was later used as a home for the widow of Duke Albrecht the Great before becoming the residence of the Grubenhagen line of the Dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg in 1290 until their line went extinct again in 1596. During their time at Herzberg, the current Schloss was built. A serious fire in November 1510 destroyed much of the previous castle with the ducal family saved at the last minute. The duke's shield bearer and the duchess's chambermaid, however, died in the fire. Afterwards, the present castle was erected as an enclosed four-winged building made out of sandstone basements and half-timbered upper storeys. Construction was completed in 1528.
The most famous member of the Guelph family connected to Schloss Herzberg probably was Elector Ernst-August, who was born at the castle in 1629. The first Elector of Brunswick-Lüneburg was married to Sophia of the Palatinate, who went on to become heiress presumptive to the British crown, and father to King George I of Great Britain. Ernst-August's parents, Duke Georg of Brunswick-Lüneburg and Landgravine Anna Eleanor of Hesse-Darmstadt, lived in the castle until 1635.
The castle towering over the small town of Herzberg remained a royal residence until 1714, the year the Guelphs ascended to the British throne, when it was given up and all furniture moved to other estates of the family. In 1882, the castle became the seat of the district court of Herzberg. A museum was opened in 1900. While times had generally been kind to the Schloss and there hadn't been much violent damage for more than 400 years, the Second World War changed that. In spring of 1945, a mighty explosion at a nearby ammunition dump, where 40,000 kilos of explosives and 8,000 mines had been stored, shook the castle and surrounding town. The roof of the castle was blown off and the museum was destroyed and subsequently looted. In 1947, further damage was caused when some nearby military bunkers were blown up.
Luckily, the castle was later restored after the war with sums in the double-digit millions going into further renovations works in the past 15 years. The castle's museum portrays the history of the forestry industry in the Harz mountains, the castle's history and that of the Guelphs, as well as the history of local arms manufacture as well as organ making - and while it isn't the first Guelph castle I would recommend you to visit, it was definitely worth the trip.
The other night, Netflix suggested me to watch a movie called "A Christmas Prince" and, well, I didn't have much to do, didn't care for anything mind-stimulating and thus did. What I thought of it? It was one of the most ridiculous storylines I have ever seen in a movie dealing with royalty! It, however, tempted me to come up with a list of fictional movies portraying royalty with the most ridiculous and cringe-worthy storylines. Mind you, I will not be including movies dealing with actual current and historical royalty even though those are occasionally pretty ridiculous too. I also asked around on Twitter and got some interesting suggestions, so check those out too. And yes, attention: spoilers ahead!
*** A Christmas Prince
An American reporter goes undercover as a nanny to get the inside scoop on a playboy prince, who turns out to be not such a playboy after all but has an evil noble ex-girlfriend who sold stories about him to the papers yet he somehow keeps her a…
Rounding off our series of posts on the plentiful palaces of Potsdam - because I will need to do some more castlehunting before when can delve deeper into the other handful of Prussian palaces in the capital of the German state of Brandenburg - is the Orangerieschloss, also known as the Orangery Palace. The palace owes its existence to King Friedrich Wilhelm IV and was originally planned to be part of a larger ensemble.
Friedrich Wilhelm, known as "the Romantic on the Throne", wished for a triumphal road imitating a Roman via triumphalis leading some two kilometres through Potsdam. He intended to incorporate several already existing buildings as well as temples, palaces and viaducts. Already during his time as Crown Prince, Friedrich Wilhelm studied the Renaissance style and later travelled to Italy drawing inspirations from both. However, because of the political unrest of the period and lack of funding, the project was never fully carried out. The Orangerieschloss as well…
Today in Amorbach, a small town nestled in the hills of the Odenwald region in Bavaria, there was a wedding that was as royal as they come as His Serene Highness Hereditary Prince Ferdinand of Leiningen religiously married Her Royal Highness Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia. The couple descends from Queen Victoria three times. The groom through his mother, a born Princess of Hanover, and the bride through both her paternal grandparents. Yours truly was among the onlookers and here are some of my first impressions with more to come over the coming days when I get back home.
The groom, Hereditary Prince Ferdinand of Leiningen, arrived on the arm of his mother née Princess Alexandra of Hanover leading the cortege of the immediate family, witnesses and bridal children.
The groom's father, the Fürst of Leiningen, and the bride's mother Ehrengard von Reden, second and former wife of the late Prince Friedrich Wilhelm of Prussia.
Behind them are the groom's sister Princess Olga…