Experience Germany Like a Local

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Germany's Oldest Inhabited Castle

Germany's Oldest Inhabited Castle: Meersburg Castle

It really had been a long day. We’d already visited two castles as a family of five, Sebastian, his parents, his sister, and I. It was my 31st birthday, and everyone’s energy level was starting to wane. Yet, with a third castle looming literally on the horizon, the sun setting on my day, I looked deep into Sebastian’s eyes, gauging if he was up to the challenge. His parents had had it, and his sister sensed better shopping opportunities outside of Germany’s reputed oldest castle. It would just be us two going for three castles. And it was just I, who would climb ...the tower!

First, let me say it was so very much worth it. Meersburg Castle was medieval fun, unusual, creepy in good ways, and an adventure! In this very real, Choose Your Own Adventure, I elected to do the additional tower tour on my own. Sebastian’s fear of heights beat him this round. We hurriedly went through the entryway looking for the meeting spot for the tower tour, afraid we’d miss it. It was the last one of the day. We waited in a white-arched room with Bambi’s friends all over the walls. Since it was late in the day, the tour group was small. I left Sebastian behind, to be reunited after the tower.

Antique Hunting trophies in Meersburg Castle

I had guessed it would be exactly a tower climb up and climb down, escorted. Nope! It was actually a very-involved 20-minute German-language tour, which kindly reminded me how bad my German is. None of my core vocabulary words were used in the making of this tour; apfelstrudel, bier, kaffee. I made use of my time by taking photos, and trying not to be a nuisance taking photos. After a full day as a family of five, suddenly being alone with a group of Germans I didn’t know was odd. However, I think there is something appropriately poetic about having a solo adventure on your birthday though.

The highest lookout of Germany's Oldest Castle, Meersburg Castle

We finally started climbing some stairs. A good sign, on a Tower Tour! We ultimately ended up in an attic! I was expecting an open, stone platform with the stepped gable wall surrounding us, but instead we were in a wholly wooden attic which creaked and croaked every time we moved from one window to the next, and there were four windows. The stalwart tour guide continued on talking, but everyone’s attention was torn away by the stunning views of Lake Constance and the lower city streets below. Another window overlooked vineyards, and then even still a third window spied the pink ‘Neues Schloss’ around the corner. I tried to take a few selfies, but they either captured me with a blown-out white background, or a beautiful lake scene with a black silhouette. I was too shy to ask in my broken German for someone to take my photo. I concentrated instead on taking a deep breath and living in my own moment in my own little world in this tower.

After the tour I looked through empty medieval-appearing rooms for Sebastian, finding him exactly where I left him at the beginning.

You’re allowed to navigate the castle unescorted, and its labyrinth of rooms. The castle is so much bigger than it first appeared. There were various dioramas and figurines set up in many of the rooms, a medieval kitchen, dungeon, knights hall, and more. It's easy to get lost in the rooms.

Knight's Hall in Meersburg Castle, Germany

Throne in Meersburg Castle, Germany

When we discovered Annette von Drost-Hülshoff’s rooms, I was curious who she was. Her poetry hasn’t been widely distributed in English, although I’m told she’s part of German curriculums. Although she lived in the time of Goethe, her work doesn’t fit into the same style of Goethe’s, or anyone else for that matter. One interesting tidbit I read was that she and her sister actually contributed folk tales to the very famous folktale collectors, the Brothers Grimm. She lived and worked at Meersburg Castle for eight years, visiting her sister and her sister's husband who owned the castle at that time. In cross-checking for this post, I found a scholar who has translated many of her works and contextualized them with her biography for English readers. The scholar's name is Marion Tymms, and she has two books out, the first is Gods Sorely Tested Child: The spiritual life of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff with a translation of Das Geistliche Jahr (affiliate link).

Annette von Droste-Hülshoff's Work Rooms and Bedroom in Meersburg Castle, Germany

The Castle has a garden that you cross to get through more exhibits. The museum made use of some of the outer buildings to recreate more dioramas of medieval life.

Germany's Oldest Inhabited Castle: Meersburg Castle Gardens

And be sure to check out the gift shop, if nothing else to see these impressive medieval helmets! I find the goose one the most intimidating! For information on visiting the castle, check out the tourism site of the city of Meersburg am Bodensee. Its a privately-owned, and inhabited castle, and the official castle website is unfortunately German only. You can find it here.

Strange Medieval Helmets in Meersburg Castle, Germany

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German City Series: the Lake Constance Towns

Germany's Lake Constance Towns | Friedrichshafen • Konstanz • Lindau • Mainau Island • Meersburg • Uhldingen-Mühlhofen

On the southern border of Germany you will find Lake Constance, also called Bodensee. It borders Germany, Switzerland and Austria and is the largest drinking water storage in Europe. More than 20 different municipalities extract the water of Lake Constance, which supplies about four million people with drinking water.

It has been on our must-see list for quite a while and even after spending 4 days there, we still feel that there is much more to see and explore. This month we will show you our highlights from our recent trip.

Upcoming Posts Featuring Lake Constance:
• History • Meersburg Castle is one of Germany’s oldest castles with more than 30 rooms to explore. Right next to it is the summer residence Neues Schloss with perfect views of shimmering Lake Constance
• Landmark • The seaside resort town of Lindau is so charming we spent all day there.
• Architecture • The architecture in the stunning cathedral of Konstanz, Muenster Unserer Lieben Frau.
• Museum • We go up in the air at the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, and later explore early settlements at the Pile Dwelling Museum in Uhldingen-Mühlhofen.
• Nature • We take the ferry over to Mainau Island, also called the island of flowers. A must-see if you are going to Lake Constance.

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If you enjoyed this article, or these topics sound interesting to you, you'll love our weekly newsletter. You'll receive a free Germany Packing list for signing up, and you'll receive each week's newest posts every Friday. Thank you for reading!


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Thank you For Reading! Denise & Sebastian | Photo by Irene Fiedler