I spent four years in West Germany, in the 70s, and I’ll tell you, they have an abundance of Castles I had learned. But let me share a few styles with you. I used to think everything was Gothic, because Gothic was kind of the overall look of things but it was not so. Before the Gothic look was Romanesque, which blended into what we see in Germany now, the Gothic look. Grant you, at times it is hard to tell, I think the Germans during the Gothic times tried to copy Romanesque [700 AD to 1250 AD: Romanesque]. In Dieburg, Germany I call the tower there, Gothic, but it really isn’t, it is an 11th century tower, and it has the characteristics of Romanesque, which are a rounded appearance, thick walls with few windows; barrel vaults, rounded arches and domes. I call it Gothic because few people know the other styles. Gothic to me is 1250 AD to about 1500 AD. This style emphasizes vertical; pointed arches, ribbed vaulting; flying buttresses or ramparts [stockades] were developed to support walls, this allowed building tall, narrow windows, with stained glass. Gargoyles to hide rain spouts were created.
We all seem to know the Renaissance period quite well, but in comparing them side by side for style, it might be different. Here we return to the horizontal on the grand scale; geometric layouts and designs; classical motifs, columns, rounded arches, domes; free use of detail: the 16 Century.
Baroque, it was a style in Germany, not just music as I had often thought of the word Baroque; which fooled me when I first noticed it; go to Babenhausen, West Germany, you will see some Baroque style, I lived right around the corner to a great tower that mesmerized me ever time I passed it, trying to figure out its style, or character. It is between 17the and 18th Centuries. The tower I’m talking about is 1712 AD, so it fits in. The Bergstrass route has a castle on it, between Heidelberg and Darmstadt, of which I’ve been to both cities, Heidelberg, being perhaps the best preserved castle in Germany. And in Darmstadt, I simply went to, when I wanted to do a lot of shopping in. In any case the Frankenstein castle is there, the one they used for the ‚Frankenstein,‘ movie in the 1920s. This has a tower that is of the 17th century, but it would fit into the Baroque style, with a mere touch of the Renaissance, thus we see the changing of styles in motion here. I was at the Frankenstein Castle in 1976; and at the Heidelberg Castle in l975.
The last style I want to bring to light is the Rococo, 18th Century for the most part. It is a kind of–oh, how do I want to put this: it has twisted curves, shell work and patterns, artificial grottoes, lots of play and detail , light and frivolous. Go to the Wilhelmstal Palace, you will see what I’m talking about, north of Kassel. I was there in l976.
Kronach: tourist normally does not go to this castle, it is Rosenberg Castle, which I was there 100-families were living in the Castle. It has a nice courtyard, and dates to about 1430 AD or so. I was there in the winter of l977.
Wuerzburg: castle on the hilltop, giving it a powerful position; a beautiful castle inside and out. I went there in 1975. This is one of those Rococo castles you don’t see a lot of; or I didn’t see a lot of or notice. Built around 1719 AD; Napoleon even took a second look at it.
Aschaffenburg’s castle „Johannisburg Castle,“ as it is called is again a beautiful castle: a pink sandstone palace is really what it is; with some 400-rooms, built around the 12th Century. It had a beautiful clock I remember in it, 18th Century. I lived about seven miles from the palace.
Up and down the Mosel River you can see more castles than the mind can remember, and that goes for the Rhine river as well; butt he Mosel is the Spell of the Wine Country, and it is more beautiful than the Rhine, take my word for it. Cochem has a castle on a hill, the Reichsburg, I remember it quite well, and down by the river my twin boy chase the fat geese, and had a great time. Cochem commands the Mosel’s steep slopes, I think formed by volcanic upheavals.
The Roman Walls of Augsburg, Germany; you wouldn’t think Augsburg had anything much to do with Rome for style anyway, but it was a campsite once for the armies of the Roman Emperor: Augustus, about 15 BC. I was there in l970, and was amazed at its thick walls. Augsburg has many military fortresses, from WWII, and WWI, which American Soldiers lived in during the 70s. It seems it never did leave its original forte. Augsburg also has its religious merits, but it was not those that appealed to me back then.
The Tower at Dieburg Germany [of which I even wrote a book about the tower: ‚Cold Kindness‘] is another beautiful piece of stonework [11th century tower], located in a small park, overlooking the once embittered WWII city, bombed by the Americans. I lived here in l974, right across the street from the tower, and I got to know the people of the city quite well, and they were rude at first, but turned out to be quite nice after you got to know them. ‚Die‘ in German means ‚the‘ and ‚burg,‘ means ‚castle or fortress,‘ thus the city is named after the tower, „The Tower of the City“; Romanesque style, with a touch of the Gothic look.
by Dennis Siluk Dr.h.c.