On Friday, our Sprachkurs class make a trip to the town of Hechingen to see Burg Hohenzollern, a 19th century neo-gothic monstrosity. The castle is typical 19th century, when princes with too much money and an overactive imagination would build massive neo-gothic creations that have no defensive function. Castle Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, the castle that the Disney castle is modelled after, is the best example of such castles.
We took a bus to get the 20km or so to the town. From there, we began the long trek up to the castle. The castle is built on a small mountain, part of the Swabische Alb, a lightly mountainous region of Germany not far from Tuebingen. The trek through the woods was nothing short of strenuous–there weren’t many switchbacks and so we ended up walking almost straight up the mountain. Arriving at the top drenched in sweat, we rested for a bit and then proceeded to head into the castle.
The tour was completely in German, but the tour guide was actually quite easy to understand. We were shown the lavish interiors and admired the gold leaf and fairytale like design of the castle. Interestingly, there was a small group of Americans in the tour that didn’t speak any German. Whenever we heard a particularly interesting bit of information, we’d lean over and tell them what was going on. After the somewhat short tour, we were allowed to climb one of the towers to get a better view of the countryside. When the weather is nice, you can see the Swiss alps from there, but it was a bit hazy, putting a stop to those plans.
All in all, a fun day trip, but I don’t think I’ll be back. The parts of the castle that are open for viewing are really quite small, and given its lack of history and extremely difficult walk to the top, one day trip is really all that’s needed.