Saturday, May 23, 2009

Schwetzingen Castle

Pronunciation: SVETZ - in - gen

Location: City of Schwetzingen

Distance From our Apartment: 10 minutes

Who knew this beauty was so close to where we were staying.?.

My breath is taken away every time I look at these pictures...and every time I relive the experience here. I could visit this palace every day and never tire of it.

And I think you'll agree if you'll join me on a small photo portrait of this "summer retreat" for royalty and nobility. I hope you are able to expand your imagination to grasp the beauty of it. As with anything, it is so, so, so much different in person. Even the best cameras and photographs still don't capture the stunning and breathtaking beauty, architecture and gardens of the Shloss (Castle) Schwetzingen.

I'll admit, this palace is nothing what you imagine a Castle to look like. So I refer to it as a Palace. This was the first place the girls and I ventured out on our own to (with Brian's encouragement of course). We spent a few hours here, then went down the street to explore (see next post) while waiting for Brian. Brian came for dinner (we ate outside it was such beautiful weather, and if you know ME, I don't do outside eating. I'm either too cold or too hot) and then we went back to explore the gardens (the Castle was closed) more with him. We had such a great time.

This palace was considered "small" by normal "Castle" standards. Servants had makeshift beds by night that became their work tables by day. (Work on a more expansive castle was halted at the time because the money had been spent elsewhere, much because of the political climate at the always, it's blamed on an impending war.)

It was built in the 1700s originally as a hunting and fishing lodge, but then was later expanded into what it is today. It has a very modern look and style to it and has massive gardens, as well as one of the last surviving theaters in the Rococo Style, which of course, were the two biggest selling points to me. (see pictures below)

As I said, it was a summer retreat for many of the nobility. Interestingly, it was considered "away" from the "city". However, when asked which "city" was meant, I was told that the Electors (their nobility) who lived there were Karl III Phillip and Charles Theodor, who's main residences were in Mannheim (by car only 15-20 minutes away and still a very beautiful city). I had to give a chuckle that a city so close to this one would be considered "away." I always thought summer residences were hundreds of miles away, if not in a different country. I guess was thinking in a more modern fashion. Cuz I was quickly reproved by the tour guide explaining that back then Mannheim was a very dirty city, with disease, poverty and stink. Also, Mannheim by today's standards is close, but back then was quite a long ways away by carriage. True. Very true. Which puts into perspective now many of the travels I read about in the old period books. Thank you Sylwia (Sylvia) for enlightening me, albeit rebukingly. :)

Xanthe didn't have a place for her water bottle, so she found one.

The girls and I were able to tour the palace, although we were not able to take pictures inside. It was very similar inside to other palaces, with ornate furnishings and expensive draperies, tapestries, art collections and wall murals. What was of note was that unlike other tours where you're not really taken into their dressing rooms, shown the escape stairways, nor are you shown their "private" affairs, such as how and where they went the bathrooms, and where they changed, we were shown all of these things. We were able to really somewhat grasp what "real" life was like back then. I've always wondered these things and was so glad to have my mind's questions answered.

This is a picture of the girls while we were waiting for the tour to the start. They'll do anything to entertain Spencer and get a laugh out of him. They had made up a scarf dance. :)

And I did agree. It was quite small by the standards I imagine castles were built by. However, it was noted that not much time was spent inside. And you'll see why if you look below.

See where Xanthe is standing at the bottom of the map? That's the Castle. The rest of it are the Gardens. 6 or 7 times the size of the actual castle. Can you believe it? Massive. It has a Bath House, The Orangerie (their greenhouse), a Mosque (which houses all the collections of the residents of the house) and an outdoor theater. I had no idea what I was going to encounter. It exceeded my expectations tenfold.

The Gardens

The pictures above are just a small glimpse at the manicured gardens. Behind, you can see the building "wings" connected to the castle (there were two) that branched off from the sides. This wing was the theater and the other one on the opposite side hosted balls and events.

Obviously, the pictures below are not my own pictures. But I wanted you to see what the inside of the theater looked like. Impressive, no?

The theater still to this day holds a Festival every summer of opera and classical music, featuring modern and classical instruments. The day we were touring, there was an abundance of finely dressed people entering the theater for a performance to take place that same night.

I think I've said enough. I will leave the pictures to speak for themselves, although there was just no way to capture everything. There would have been hundreds of pictures. If a comment needs to be made, I'll quickly make one underneath the picture. Enjoy! (And I promise there ARE People Pictures down further.)

(The archways leading to L'Orangerie, the massive greenhouse)

Statues and Sculptures

(This statue of Pan is considered a very famous fountain/sculpture that has been traveled to by visitors from many distant lands, and from many distant centuries)

( Mazes like this one led you in and out of every area of the gardens. There was no way to capture them all, so one picture should give you an idea, as long as you realize there were at least a hundred.)

Outdoor Theater

Bath House
(The large white circle in the middle is the "Bath". I wouldn't mind having that for my bathtub. There wasn't enough room to get a good close picture of it.)

(6 Walkways leading from the Bath)

(8 Aviaries with live birds surrounding the large Bath)

Spencer being his happy self.

People Pictures

As we were walking further into the gardens, Xoe & Xanthe started collecting walking sticks, which soon turned into arrows, swords and knives they were collecting to defeat "Sanjoso" (huh?), a make believe character they were scheming to capture. I seriously laughed so hard while they were playing. But mostly my heart was full because I love when kids use their imagination more than playing computer games or watching TV (which the girls have been doing a littlle too much of lately.) They were the most creative when they were 4, 5 & 6 years old when I purposely didn't have TV. They had to find other ways to entertain themselves. And sure enough, they found that imagination again. And I loved it. They played the whole time and NEVER broke character. I was not allowed to call them anything other than their character names (which I'm so sad I've forgotten now. The girls can't remember either.) And if you can't tell, they're wearing one of Spencer's blankets and their Paris scarf as a cape.

The Lake

I didn't get very great pictures of the breathtaking lake. Just know that it was BREATHTAKING. Enough to use that word twice.

Daddy loving on Spencer, and vice versa. They can't get enough of each other.

A Few More Landscape Pictures to End On

Spinning Fountains

A better view of the "theater wing" with one of many sculpted urns.

(The "ball" wing as I call it, that has painted ceilings and beautiful relics.
I hope you've enjoyed the journey of the Schwetzingen Castle. It was one of my favorite places of our Germany trip.
And this will be the last time I say this about the subject of how many pictures I post. I worry about it all the time. But I want to say this. I know many of you don't post very many, and I don't know if you hate when others post lots. But I tend to have a hard time weeding out. I'm sorry about that. But I realized that that's just the way I roll. I love beauty, beautiful pictures and I love sharing it with others. So, if you don't really like having to weed through all the pictures and documentary, just see what you can, and I appreciate you at least stopping by.
Next Stop: Schwetzingen Hopfenplatz


Randi said...

Isn't it amazing that castles like this are everywhere! I love the buildings and architecture in Germany. I also love the scarf dance. I would love to see it in its entirety someday.

stacy said...

why aren't there places like that here? or are there and i just don't know where to find them. so beautiful. theses trips that you are taking your girls on are once in a lifetime. sooo amazing for them and huge learning opportunties. sorry that you have to be without your honey for so long... i know how hard it can be. :) i wish you lived me that is. :)