Saturday, 5 December 2015

daytrip: the rosenau

H and I were in Rödental by Coburg and made a stop at the nearby Schloß Rosenau, referred to apparently in English—as we were about to learn through a litany of intimate connections, as the Rosenau. Owned for centuries by the Knights of Rosenau, the estate passed into the House of Saxe-Gotha after the last impoverished owner became weighted down by more debts incurred by a wonderfully eccentric ornithological hobby that entailed teaching native finches to sing like English pipits and self-publishing a treatise on it. The duke and duchess bore and raised the future Prince Albert in this castle—who would go on to become the husband (consort) of Queen Victoria. The couple lived in and reigned from mostly Windsor of course, but returned often to the Rosenau and the palace in Coburg.
After the outbreak of World War I made the British royal family much more reticent about admitting to their German connections, the property stood empty. As the Russian Revolution displaced other relations, however, the surviving line of the Romanov family and titular empress of the realm—with her ladies in waiting—was allowed to live there in exile, and in relative peace and comfort, having converted the library into an Orthodox chapel, until her death in 1938. Today, the castle and grounds are maintained as a state park and museum, and we’ll surely visit again for a tour and to see the gardens and their follies—ruins, grottoes and an artificial waterfall, in full glory. I knew some of this history beforehand, but it will forever strike me as incredulous that such events took place right down the road and garner little attention or fanfare.