Experience Germany Like a Local

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Burg Hohenzollern, Inside and Out

We spent the night as close to the castle as we could without being Prussian royalty. Specifically, a charming family-owned hotel, Hotel Brielhof where our little balcony looked out at the Hohenzollern up on the hill. When morning came, the castle was still hiding under a cover of fog.

We drove up steep Mount Zoller with the car as far as we could go. The rest of the way we took a tiny shuttle bus as far as it could go on the one-way road without a shoulder to pull off on. A glance out of the window made my heart race, surely a bellowing breeze could tip the bus over the edge. After, we still had a winding incline approach to walk, but it was within the castle gateway.We spent the night as close to the castle as we could without being Prussian royalty. Specifically, a charming family-owned hotel, Hotel Brielhof where our little balcony looked out at the Hohenzollern up on the hill.

It was truly worth it to be early, as the only other people around were employees. I could stop and take pictures as much as I wanted and not disturb anyone. I teased Sebastian that he had rented the whole castle for my birthday. We went in and got our tickets (first tour of the day) and visited the gift shop already to purchase the accompanying booklet of the castle tour in English that the website recommended when no English tours are available (weekdays).

Eagle Gateway, Equestrian Portrait of Prince-Elector Frederick I of Brandenburg | Castle Approach, designed by Colonel Moritz of Prittwitz and Gaffron

The booklet was only 4 Euros, nicely designed, historical photos and recent color photography throughout... it’s a nice souvenir. Photography is not allowed, so if you want to show family and friends at home what you saw, this booklet is the way to go. However, I realized during the tour that 75% of the English booklet was displayed on gigantic graphics throughout the tour, so it wasn’t as necessary to enjoy the tour as I thought. But since I had the booklet, I could stand wherever I wanted, and not worry about reading the signs. In the end, a nice souvenir for 4 Euros.

Hall of Ancestors
The first room we went into was a foyer that had the entire family tree, crests included, and sorted by color. Very organized! It was so impressive, and really brilliant planning to have this as your first impression. After standing agog at the long, family lineage, the next room is the Count’s Hall.
Before entering the Counts’ Hall with it's original floors, we had to put on these gigantic house slippers over our shoes. Don’t worry, one size WILL fit all, and everyone proceeded to do a Michael Jackson-style-moonwalk-shuffle for the rest of the tour. Rather than cover up the floors with protective, contemporary rugs that weren’t consistent with history, they’d rather us wear slippers. It's a great idea, and cute to see.

Ramp, interior courtyard of Burg Hohenzollern

Counts’ Hall
We went through a really long hall, with two rows of towering marble columns leading your eye up to vaulted ceilings. Windows on one side overlooking the valley below, the opposite side views the castle’s courtyard. The hall feels more like a ballroom, and is the largest room in the castle.

Iron Gate and Gate Tower | Burg Hohenzollern

Library & Margrave
The next room was a library with oak cabinets below eight beautiful murals that took over the whole wall, painted by Wilhelm Peters. The murals illustrated scenes and legends from the history of the castle, being built, destroyed, and built again, and again. Third time’s the charm.
Beyond the library, the next room we saw felt more like a study or office, a lived-in one with family portraits on a table, that looked out a cozy bay of windows.

Burg Hohenzollern's Gate Tower

King’s Bed Chamber
I was surprised at how modest the King’s Bed Chamber was, but we were reminded that the castle as it is now was reconstructed more as a memorial to the family seat than as a real home for the court. The only time the room was ever lived in was for a few months during World War II, when the Crown Prince William returned before moving to Hechingen.

Christ's Chapel | Burg Hohenzollern

Queen’s Room
After exploring 2-3 art gallery rooms on our own, the tour group met up again in the Queen’s Room, where we saw beautiful portraits of Prussian Queens, including Queen Louise by Elizabeth Vigée-Lebrun. Our guide pointed out that the wallpaper design was hand-stenciled, and included A’s for Empress Augusta alongside the Prussian eagle.

We went through one more hall, where we gave back our borrowed house slippers. We walked down a few stone steps outside, and I noted we had followed a U-shape through the castle, and had come opposite of where we had begun. But the tour was not over yet.

Inner courtyard of Burg Hohenzollern

Bay Window Facade and Wooden Door Burg Hohenzollern

Treasure Chamber
Next, we went down a short flight of stairs into where the old Castle Kitchen used to be, which strangely, now holds all the treasures and artwork. I was delighted to finally see both Queen Louise’s dress, a button-up riding coat, as well as surprisingly a lock of Louise’s hair. It was a mousey-brown color. Of note were fancy snuff boxes, even including a life-saving one that stopped a bullet. The one and only time snuff was life-saving! There’s also a crown. Ha! Saved that for last, but it wasn’t as exciting in my mind. Tip! You have to be quick in this last part! I thought we would be able to leisurely look and admire everything, but not so! The tour guide has another tour to lead and she’ll need you out, so pick your items to admire wisely.

Burg Hohenzollern Wooden Door Leading to the Ticket Office and Gift Shop

The tour guide pointed us in the direction of a bit exploring we could do on our own. We went down into a casement, which felt like a cellar, almost catacomb where you could see where the White Lady might have snuck in, and saw some of the more medieval cannon charge and those sorts of things.Tip! there’s a way out of the casement that takes you out of the castle’s courtyard into a terrace with a nice view.

Jost Nicholas, the builder of the second reconstruction of Burg Hohenzollern

*Here are some photos from Burg Hohenzollern's website, to give you an idea of the tour. Photography is not allowed inside the castle.*

Photos from Inside Burg Hohenzollern | Copyright © 2010 Burg Hohenzollern

Only the Beginning
On my birthday, this was the first of three castles I saw in one day. After seeing Burg Hohenzollern, we drove further south to stay near Lake Constance, the Bodensee region. What were the other two castles? You'll have to wait until next month! It was a great birthday! Until then...

Fox Hole Bastion, Where The Casements Lead to..Burg Hohenzollern

Burg Hohenzollern Beer Garden Overlooking Gate Tower

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The Art Within the Art: Kunstmuseum Stuttgart

The Art Within The Art: Kunstmuseum Stuttgart

You have to admit, the building is impressive. It reinforces the idea that you’re about to witness man-made achievements before you even buy your ticket. I wonder if the architects were playing against the idea that you should think outside the box when they decided to literally build a modern, cold-looking, glass box, and then enclose the art in warm, Jurassic-age limestone. The new museum building was opened in 2005, and designed by architects Hascher and Jehle, the triumphant winners of a competition amongst 341 architect offices. They sought and accomplished building a museum that offered varied exhibition spaces, and felt open to the city outside. For the museum visitor, the act of changing floors is both becoming a part of the public art of the museum architecture itself, as revealed by the glass windows to passersby outside, and a visual delight with its panorama views of the city-center.

Swabian Impressionism
Thanks to Count Silvio della Valle di Casanova's donation of his private collection of Swabian Impressionist works in 1924, the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart had a hearty foundation to start. Impressionism is my favorite art period, and the ‘Swabian’ element grabbed my curiosity. What made this Impressionist collection ‘Swabian’? Swabia refers to a region of fluctuating borders within Germany, one that usually included the city of Stuttgart. In today’s geography Swabia has been swallowed up by the states of Bavaria and Baden-Württenberg.

Swabian Impressionist referred to where the artists were from, more than a different variation of Impressionism. Although some may point out that their paintings consisted of more earthy tones than their French counterparts, this was in reflection of the Swabian landscapes they were depicting. The names to know are Hermann Pleuer, Otto Reiniger, and Christian Landenberger. Hermann Pleuer, whose landscapes often included some form of rail or trains in the scene are easy to identify. Impress your friends when you name the artist without looking at the calling card.

Otto Dix
We’ve discussed Expressionism before as it related to the architecture of a special street in Bremen, Germany called Böttcherstrasse. You can check out those earlier posts here, Böttcherstrasse: An Introduction (Part 1), Paula Modersohn-Becker Museum (Part 2) Mostly Expressionist, Sort of North German Gothic (Part 3). Expressionism also has a painting counterpart, a style that Otto Dix is very well known for. He distorted the figures in his painting for an emotional effect, to express a feeling. Expressionist; expressing feeling.

Dix had plenty to express! He was the perfect age to suffer through the entire duration of World War I, which thematically weaved through his subject matter for his entire art career. As a professor his artwork met the ire of Hitler, and was exhibited at the Degenerate Art Exhibit in Berlin. Hitler wasn’t fond of his Anti-War sentiments, nor his distorted painted figures. In the final years of WWII, he was drafted with the older men and young boys. He ended up a prisoner of war in France. Otto Dix died in 1969.

If you only have time for one painting, see his massive triptych Metropolis. Be forewarned it is not the most lovely thing you’ll see in Stuttgart. That's beside the point. The artist risked his life for a country, which upon losing the war and paying reparations, was degraded to prostitution in exchange for basic needs and widespread neglect of its veterans. His disillusionment spilled over into this piece, Metropolis. On the far left is the lowest of the low, and the far right is only slightly better. The middle is the bourgeois who are physically separated from their miserable counterparts on either side.

Metropolis by Otto Dix, part of the permanent collection of Kunstmuseum Stuttgart | Germany • Gallery Photo Attributed to Peter Bilz-Wohlgemuth

Always New
As a municipal museum focused on modern art, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart always has new exhibitions being shown.Check their English website for the latest and greatest.

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Schloss Favorite: When You Have It All!

Southern Facade of Schloss Favorite in Ludwigsburg, Germany | Closeup of Statue | Flower-line path leading to Schloss Favorite from Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg

When you have it all, the big palace with the big garden, dozens of servants to cater to you, riches to spend, a court to entertain, armies to oversee, the next thing you need is somewhere to escape. This is Schloss Favorite, a getaway from getting everything you ever wanted. I’m not being snarky, this really was the purpose!

The Pheasants Can Stay
If you leave Residenzschloss Ludwigsburg from the embroidery-style garden in the north, part of Blooming Baroque, you’ll see Schloss Favorite straight ahead upon a little hill. The palace started out modestly as a pheasant farm. In 1713, Duke Eberhard Ludwig ordered a pleasure palace to be built. The pheasants could stay, for now. Schloss Favorite was never intended to be a permanent residence, but solely an entertainment venue.

The original baroque exterior was designed by Donato Giuseppe Frisoni. The Italian-inspired flat roof terrace that provides a panoramic view of the park and additional entertaining space, unfortunately is not suited to German rains. Water coming inside the palace has been a never ending problem for conservators. Hurry and tour the interiors of Schloss Favorite before it is closed for roughly a year’s worth of restoration, starting in January 2017.

Exterior views of the Southern Facade of Ludwigsburg's Schloss Favorite | Baroque Architecture

My Favorite Part of the Tour
During this time of history, there was only two ways of listening to music, through a mechanical music box, or with live musicians. While musicians are great, they take up valuable dance floor space. To the shock and delight of the dancing guests, there is a hidden gallery at the top of the great hall where the musicians play, out of the way. The four towers have staircases inside them, but only two of them go from the ground to the roof terrace. In order for the musicians to remain secret, tucked away in their hidden gallery, they had to climb up one tower, cross the roof terrace, and descend down another tower. During our tour we had the opportunity to climb up, and it was shockingly confining. It must have been really challenging for the musicians with large instruments!

Northern facade of Schloss Favorite, backlit by morning sun | Ludwigsburg, Germany | Baroque Architecture

The Pheasants Must Go
Schloss Favorite continued to host parties as it was built from Duke Eberhard Ludwig’s through Duke Carl Eugen’s time, even serving as an excellent vantage spot to shoot off fireworks to celebrate Eugan’s wedding to Elisabeth Friederike of Brandenburg-Bayreuth. Duke Carl Eugen’s only complaint was the pheasants, who packed their bags, and were soon replaced with deer.

In 1806, the first King, King Frederick I of Württemberg instructed the court architect Nikolaus Friedrich von Thouret to update Schloss Favorite’s ‘out of style’ Baroque decor with trending ‘Neo-classical’. One room is left original to Eberhard Ludwig’s time, in the Baroque style.

German Examples of Beautiful, Well-preserved Neoclassical Interiors | Interior Schloss Favorite Photos by Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg
Photography inside the castle is not allowed, but I did have fun with the exteriors. The interior shots are supplied by Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg in accordance with their press usage. Ready to go to Schloss Favorite? Find more information here on their English site.

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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler