Is a Castle a Mansion?

Is a Castle a Mansion?

Compare if you will.

German castle overlooking the Rhine River.
German castle overlooking the Rhine River.

A castle is a large building usually with high, thick walls and towers that was built in the past to protect against attack, or a large expensive house.  (Merriam-Webster)

Biltmore Estate in Ashville, Tennessee, USA. (photo from Biltmore.com)
Biltmore Estate in Ashville, Tennessee, USA. (photo from Biltmore.com)

A mansion is a large and impressive house, or the large house of a wealthy person. (Merriam-Webster)

The eight-thousand acre Biltmore Estate in Ashville, North Carolina is considered the largest home in the United States.  Its backyard is the Blue Ridge Mountains. (Biltmore.com)

Well, for this blog I’ll highlight a castle along the Rhine River in Germany.

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Burg Reichenstein  Castle in Trechtingshausen dates back to the 11th century when people on the Rhine began to build fortified dwellings.  (burg-reichenstein.de)

I think there was a difference in the past concerning the security level of the German populace compared to the U.S. populace.  Why else would there not be “castles” in the U.S.?  Those wealthy enough in the U.S. apparently built for comfort and status as compared to a dwelling for defense and security in Europe. And – of course there is a difference in time too since the U.S. was formed much later.

It seems to me that the U.S. populace eventually relied more on government entities to establish forts and defensive structures to protect the populace as compared to individual families building a structure such as the castles in Europe.

However, I’m sure there are variances of opinion and this thought isn’t absolute.

The thoughts arose while visiting Burg Reichenstein in Germany.  It was a very meaningful visit and I just felt taken back in time.  My first impression was the “macho” feel instead of inside warmth.  Corridors were adorned with relics of the hunt or warfare.  But wasn’t that the lifestyle back then?

Regardless, walking through the castle was most intriguing as we reflected on the lifestyle of the era.  Can you imagine waking up in the morning adorned with the ornate, masculine and in some places feminine surroundings?

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Furnishings look fanciful and unique in an airy, open connecting room.

 

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Imagine waking in the morning and taking a peek through the steel and glass to see what’s happening on the Rhine River below.

This blog can’t possibly highlight sufficiently the entire uniqueness, structure and furnishings of the Burg Reichenstein.  The group tour was very enlightening and I could definitely stay there longer, just absorbing the surroundings.

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From what I could determine the Burg Reichenstein was self-contained, including a worship chapel.  I wonder how much interaction was made with the general citizens?

 

The music room and various other rooms for specific purposes were delightful to IMG_5209see and experience.  It seems like they were occupied only yesterday.

 

 

 

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Guest House Falkenburg blends nicely with the rest of the architecture.IMG_5223

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What a view overlooking the Rhine.

Practically every direction and angle you walk there is something that draws you.

Some of the structure has been rebuilt over the years from its early beginnings in the 11th century.  The first documented mention of     Reichenstein in 1213 names the archabbey of Komelimunster-Aachen as possessor of the castle.

According to the museum brochure the Rhenish League of Towns destroyed the castle in 1253 due to some opposition.  After recon- struction the castle was sold to the archbishop of Mainz about 1270.

In 1282 there was opposition by the Mainz castellans and the castle was destroyed the second time.

In my humble opinion the threats seem to have come from within more than  external for which the castle was built.

The castle was rebuilt once again and was formally presented to the Counts of Palatine andIMG_5184 Dukes of Bavaria, who cast Reichenstein as a means of power in their dispute for the German imperial crown.

 

In 1934 the emperor decided that the castle belonged to the archbishop of Mainz.

Mainz remained the possessor until the end of the 18th century.  After various changes of ownership the castle was passed to the Baron Kirsh-Puricelli family.

 

 

 

Several generations of the family restored the castle to its ancient form.

A separate blog will be dedicated to another castle along the Rhine River in Heidelberg. Guess which one that is?

By the way, some of the most prominent and beautiful castles in Germany are identified at http://www.touropia.com/castles-in-germany/.

Germany – fast and slow

Germany – fast and slow

 

Germany - K-town possiblyThinking back on our trip to Germany, what comes to mind is the piece, comfort and beauty of the accompanying towns compared to the frenzy and speed of the Autobahn.

Traffic in Landstuhl was steady and sometimes backed up slightly at the traffic signals.  It was sufficient to slow you down to absorb some of the local architecture and flavor though.

While traveling around the countryside you get the feeling of closeness in the communities, like Steinwenden, and the pride in maintaining their homes and towns in pristine condition, reflecting on the the country’s beauty and history.IMG_4790

We had an nice ride throughout Kaiserslautern and ventured toward the east, moving enjoyably through each town.IMG_5001

 

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Frankenstein caught our attention and we just had to take a couple of photos.    Frankenstein Castle (German: Burg Frankenstein) is a hilltop castle in the Odenwald overlooking the city of Darmstadt in Germany. It is alleged that this castle may have been an inspiration for Mary Shelley when she wrote her 1818 Gothic novel Frankenstein. (Wikipedia)

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http://www.bargaintraveleurope.com/Germany_Frankenstein_Castle_Ingolstadt_to_Kaiserslautern.html

What a contrast from the Autobahn to the slow, easing-going lifestyle  surrounding the fast pace of life.

I feel like I step back in time along the winding roads and wonder what life was like during the days of the world wars.  I think it’s important to reflect on the citizenry of nations, such as Germany, where the ravages of war made their profound impact on life.  There were some gave markers near the castle that bring to memory some of the past.

Do you sometimes get caught up in your travels, reflecting on what was -compared to what is?

After leaving the Frankenstein area we were longing now for a boat tour along the Rhine.  That will have to be in another blog.

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Countryside scenic photos just west of Frankenstein, Germany.