Germany, Castle by Castle
By Scott Vogel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 2, 2008; Page P03
Q. I am planning to take my 14-year-old grandson to Germany in June for a tour of medieval castles and fortresses. Which of these would prove most interesting for a teenager enthralled with dungeons, dragons and knights?
A. When it comes to the relative merits of German castles, there
seems to be little agreement, although on one issue there's no dispute: You are
the coolest grandmother ever, bar none. And according to Astrid Baur, who has one of
the coolest jobs ever, having given castle tours for the past eight years, her hometown
fortress should be stop No. 1. Of course, Baur grew up in the Bavarian
town of Fussen, literally in the shadow of Neuschwanstein, Germany's
most famous castle (the ones in the Disney parks are Neuschwanstein
knockoffs), a 19th-century structure built by King Ludwig II.
"It's also the most visited castle in Germany," Baur said, "but it's not a typical one. Castles were typically built to protect whoever was living there, but this one was for a mad king who wanted to dream and get away from people." For bona fide dungeons and faint echoes of derring-do, she recommended the castle at Marksburg on the Rhine River. Most castles that would capture a 14-year-old's interest date from the 12th and 13th centuries, and almost all have been at least partially destroyed in the years since. "But they couldn't get to Marksburg, so it's exactly as it was 800 years ago."
"Another Rhine one which is absolutely marvellous is Eltz," Baur said of a pristine fairy-tale structure surrounded by thickly forested terrain, not to mention the occasional spooky mist. "And of course Heidelberg castle" on the Neckar River, which has sustained enormous damage over time but still possesses a lovely moat and knights' hall.
This article was originally posted by The Washington Post on its website in its Travel Q&A section. Many editors across the U.S. selected this item for inclusion in their travel sections, including The (Nashua NH) Telegraph, The Charlotte Observer, The (Charleston) Post and Courier, Pioneer Press (Twin Cities MN), San Francisco Chronicle, and The (Monterey County) Herald.