Monday, 3 September 2012

castle week: bavaria

Here are some of the two-euro pieces that Germany has issued. The series is not yet complete, I believe, and maybe the mint might consider some lesser known symbols to represent the other states. Though certainly well-known and instantly recognizable by the many visitors who flock there, choosing Schloss Neuschwanstein for Bayern does come at the exclusion but not dismissal of many other fine objects. Proximity, familiarity and the chance to explore, seeking out or finding by accident makes it seem like Bavaria is absolutely lousy with castles.
It is a decision not to be envied, as I think I could fill several weekly series of buildings just from this region of Bavaria, Franconia (Franken)—or equally so for Unterfranken, the Rhön, etc. Land-holders wanted to showcase and defend their power and wealth, especially in a kingdom full of intrigues and frustrated by overlapping profane and sacred jurisdictions and non-contiguous possessions. The fairy-tale castle of King Ludwig II is a relatively recent development, as far as castles and palaces go, and in County Schweinfurt there is the youngest castle in Bavaria and among the most contemporary in the world. Schloss Craheim is another idealization of what a stately residence ought to be and was commissioned just in 1908 on the occasion of the marriage of Cavalry Master Baron Steward of Wetzlar (Truchsess von und zu Wetzlar, rather a sine cure office) to an American industrial heiress, desirous of a more modern and personal home.
The grand Baroque- and Rococo-style construction was finished quickly but less than a decade before the conclusion of World War I, that saw the abdication of much of Europe’s nobility. In the neighbouring county of Haßberg by the small town of Ebern stands a palace that has enjoyed a much longer history and since the 1400s has remained in the same family. Descendants live in Schloss Eyrichofs among the grandeur of the ages. The only significant change was the draining of the moat and the surrounding lake to construct an English garden on the grounds, keeping to the style of the day.
Though somewhat overshadowed by the city’s fortifications above, Veste Coburg, the very British-looking manor of Ehrenburg has been witness to volumes of dynastic statecraft. Historically yoked to Gotha-Saxe-Coburg, the county of Coburg only chose to join the newly constituted free-state of Bavaria (rather than Thuringia) when the realm was dissolved following the war. Queen Victoria, whose mother also grew up in the ducal house, spend some time here with her husband Prince Albert and met a constellation of other ruling houses, whose introductions and match-making that echo through the decades. The Gothic Revival residence, for Victoria’s benefit, also underwent some modernization, having the first indoor plumbing, a water closet, and elevator on the continent installed.