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/.

How about a little Rhine?

How about a little Rhine?

Once upon a time, not very long ago, we continued to enjoy the beauty of Germany, upon the Rhine.

IMG_5277We visited shops and explored some of the area while waiting for the boat cruise.  Once underway, it was a pleasant experience with the boat’s captain and his excellent piloting on the Rheingau.  We cruised at a nice, comfortable speed.  This helped us relax more while taking photos and observing all that our eyes could behold.

IMG_5279                                                          Of course the river patrol helped reinforce the rules of the Rhine. That’s okay though, at least we felt safe.IMG_5259

What an enjoyable ride along the Rhine River, taking in the gentle breeze and gazing upon the accompanying hillsides adorned with castles, relics and modern day activity.  Just look at this photo!  Doesn’t it take you back in time?

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It was also exciting just watching the elongated barges being pushed by tugboats heading to the open waters. Note that the boat crews transport their vehicles with them.

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Equally impressive was the number of trains rolling between the Rhine and the neatly manicured, sloping vineyards.  Rüdesheim lies in the north-west corner of the German wine producing region Rheingau. Riesling grapes are the main type grown in this area, producing mainly high-quality white wines. Wikipedia – Rüdesheim am Rhein

Overlooking the Rhine at Rüdesheim is the Niederwalddenkmal monument.  It was constructed to commemorate the foundation of the German Empire after the end of the Franco-Prussian War. The first stone was laid on September 16, 1871, by Wilhelm I. The sculptor was Johannes Schilling, and the architect was Karl Weisbach. The total cost of the work is estimated at one million gold marks. It was inaugurated on September 28, 1883. The 38 metres tall monument represents the union of all Germans.  (SpottingHistory.com)

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The central figure is the 10.5 metres tall Germania figure. In the sculptured impression, IMG_5326Germania holds the recovered crown of the emperor in the right hand and in the left the Imperial Sword. Beneath Germania is a large relief that shows emperor Wilhelm I riding a horse with nobility, the army commanders and soldiers. The relief has the Wacht am Rhein (Watch on the Rhine) lyrics engraved. On the left side of the monument is located the peace statue. The war statue is located on the right.  Niederwalddenkmal Monument at Rüdesheim am Rhein

IMG_5321As you stand in front of the   monument and look out over the Rhine, it is an amazing view.

Although we didn’t cruise the entire Rhine River it was very rewarding to travel more than 10 miles of it. There is plenty to see and relish.

When you travel around the south west part of Germany,  I’m certain you’ll enjoy all the area has to offer.  We could absolutely spend more time there.IMG_5281

 

 

 

 

 

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