Day 289: Wartberg CastleNovember 30, 2017 in Germany
Time for a day-trip out of the city, something we haven't had since arriving in Weimar! Unfortunately since we were going to a castle, we had to leave Schnitzel behind for the day. Caught the bus to the station, then a train about 40 minutes to a small town called Eisenach, almost directly in the centre of Germany. Looking on the map, it looks roughly equidistant to the north, south, east and western borders of Germany.
Another bus here up a long steep hill where we finally arrived at Warberg Castle around 11am. Very cold, plenty of of snow lying around on the ground, and a few little flakes fluttering around here and there too! The castle itself, despite looking very imposing from a military viewpoint, is actually more notable for cultural reasons as we were about to discover on our entirely-in-German guided tour!
Founded in the 11th century by a knight, not much remains of the old buildings and it was largely reconstructed in the 18th century based on what they roughly thought it probably might've looked like during that era. It was home to St Elizabeth of Hungary, a Hungarian princess who was brought to the castle aged 4 and betrothed to the lord. During her stay, she devoted herself to helping the poor and sick, donating alms and setting up hospitals etc. When her husband was killed during the Crusades she was forced to flee, later dying in Italy aged just 24 and was sainted only a few years later.
We also saw the Minstrel's Hall, site of a medieval competition where minstrels and musicians tried to win the lord's favour, and the losers would be put to death. Although it's likely apocryphal, it was later immortalised in an opera by Richard Wagner. But the most impressive room on the tour was the immense banquet hall. Again, a later reconstruction of what a medieval German hall might've looked like, it was still super impressive - impressive enough that King Ludwig II of Bavaria built a full-scale replica inside Neuschwanstein! This hall was where in 1817 a group of unruly German students gathered together to talk about politics in a way that was forbidden under dissent laws at the time. From this a political movement was born and it ultimately led to German unification in 1871. They even had the original flag the students used - red and black bars, with a gold leaf on the front. Which later inspired the German flag.
But the most important room was last - Martin Luther's room. He lived in hiding here for 10 months after being excommunicated, and it was in this room that he translated the New Testament from ancient Greek into German. It paved the way for translations into other languages like English and Spanish, and for the first time the Word of God was in the hands of the people, rather than being filtered down via the clergy.
So all in all, it was a pretty cool spot. It looked great too - exactly as you'd imagine a medieval German castle to look, which I suppose was exactly the point. Filming done, we walked back down the hill rather than wait for the inconveniently timed bus and through the pretty little old centre of Eisenach. Not much time to stop though, since we had a train to catch that only arrived every hour!
Grabbed a quick late lunch at the station (it was now 2pm), and just made the train. Back to Weimar where we got the bus back home via the supermarket to pick up some dinner supplies. Schnitzel very happy to see us of course - it's been quite a while since he's been on his own for a whole day!Read more