Okay, so this was only my second castle ever, but it's really really fancy! Anyway, this is the first place we've been that we feel totally committed to showing to visitors. It was so, so fun. Come visit us and see!
First, Königswinter, a charming town half an hour south of us down the Rhine. These hollyhocks grow all over the place in the Bonn area.
Next, the Drachenfels. Königswinter not only has a ridiculous castle, it has romantic ruins just up the hill. Drachen means dragon--there's apparently some dragon legend associated with this place, but I don't know what it is because none of the signage was in English. Maybe the legend has something to do with the volcanic activity on the hill that I'm pretty sure one sign described.
Here is tiny Tyler with the main chunk of the ruins, and me with another piece.
There are amazing views of the Rhine valley and surrounding hills from up there. We could see all the way to Köln and could even make out the cathedral (not pictured). I'm a bit surprised the Köln cathedral isn't visible from space.
On to the main event. This castle was built between 1882 and 1884 by the son of a Bonn innkeeper. He had done very well for himself in speculation of some kind. He was made a baron in 1881, before he started building his castle, but I think he'd already started planning it before he was technically an aristocrat.
Doesn't it look more like someone's idea of a romantic castle than an authentic castle? Even to my extremely inexpert eye there seem to be some anomalies, like these guys (around the base of the bow window). They look like they belong in a Polish church from the year 13o0 or something.
It seems this guy just took all the palatial elements he could think of (such as golden stags), chose the ones he liked best, and used his new money to make it happen. But that's probably what makes it so fun to see.
This is the main staircase.
Here's a really cool ceiling. We didn't take the guided tour (because it was in German and would've been a waste of money at this point in our studies) so we couldn't go into all of the rooms, but we could peer over the thresholds.
A beautiful bookcase in the library.
This is the ceiling of the drinking room. Seriously.
There is a polar bear on the floor. I think there are also some fancy slippers in the background. At some point when our German is better I want to go back and take the tour so I can see these things up close.
The castle remained in private hands until the early '80s, when it was donated to the state and extensively refurbished. The final touches were just finished last year.
P.S. On our way back from Königswinter we spotted this extremely important piece of news:
Gummy bears have surpassed Beethoven as Bonn's #1 export! I'm not sure what this means, exactly. Was Bonn previously exporting more Beethoven-related stuff than gummy bears? Or are the gummy bears now the greater tourist draw? We may have to go to the Haribo factory to find out. Stay tuned...