Tuesday, 4 September 2012

castle week: mecklenberg-vorpommern

The German Castle Route, the Burgenstraße, cuts a swath, intersected by other scenic routes, like the Romantic, Romanesque and the Half-Timbered Roads and others, from Mannheim on the banks of the Neckar River to Prague. I notice that a lot of our travels swarm around such trails. There are, however, many more hits off these main sequences.
We had a very nice holiday enjoying the Baltic beaches and natural wonders of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern with the islands of Rügen and Usedom. The resorts and hotels fronting the shoreline and promenades were very picturesque and inviting whitewashed affairs, but we also had a chance to discover some more inland sites.
Sadly many traditional castles in the region are in sore need of care and have been more or less abandoned—though there has been renewed interest in such real-estate and preservation efforts. Crumbling castles are basically free to a good home. But not all was in disrepair and there were quite a few very nice manor houses and plantation estates, just beyond the sand dunes. Situated next to a grove of thousand year old oak trees (Eiche), the Baroque collection of buildings at Ivenack with castle and cloister. With a commanding view of island and lands beyond, the Granitz Hunting Lodge (Jagdschloss) is very impressive site.
A winding cast iron staircase hugs the tower walls and from the vantage point of the roof one is afforded a spectacular and strategic view of the former royal hunting grounds, now protected as a nature reserve. The tower also has a staggering collection of hunting rifles and trophies—contributions from the many guests entertained and hunting parties hosted. The state government invested a lot of funds to rehabilitate this building and turn it into a popular tourist-attraction, and hopefully this act can inspire the public to do more to save the region’s other historic, cultural, and natural wonders.