Travel: Bavarian Magic Castles

At this point in my trip, I have become increasingly uninterested in man-made structures, despite the story they tell about the daily lives of the clergy, royalty, and general population. Therefore, I took a day-trip to the heart of Bavaria; thankfully it was a gorgeous day filled with sunshine, that complemented my intense need to traipse through the natural undergrowth of the mountains.

2013-05-18 08.26.10

Modern day Bavaria comprises a large chunk of Southern Germany (approximately 27,200 square miles); this is 20% of the nation.  It originated as a duchy during the middle of the first millennium. Previously it had been inhabited by  Celts, but Bavarians began to emerge north of the alps, seeming to have coalesced out of the population remaining in the aftermath of the 5th century Roman withdrawal.

2013-05-18 04.07.46

This led way to the Duchy of Bavaria which was ruled by the house of Agilolfing from 554 to 788, before the last Duke Tassilo III was deposed by Charlemagne. In the following four centuries, numerous families held the post, but rarely did this extend beyond three generations.

 

2013-05-18 04.19.23

Fast-forward to the 1800s, when Napoleon abolished the Holy Roman Empire, Bavaria became a kingdom in 1806. It then preserved its independence by capitalizing on the rivalries during the 1866 Austro-Prussian War.

Eventually, Bavaria became a part of the German Empire despite religious tension between the protestant Prussian state and the Bavarian Catholic Population. 

2013-05-18 07.19.10

Sorry, I always let myself get overly enthusiastic about the origins and history of an area. Perhaps I should have chosen to be a history major or study anthropology or archeology instead! Nonetheless, the mountainous region was beautiful and capped off by a visit to Neuschwanstein Castle.

2013-05-18 04.33.33

 

 

 

The brainchild of Ludwig II, it was designed as a  Romanesque Revival in homage to Richard Wagner. Fortunately, Ludwig paid for the construction with his personal fortune or via borrowing instead of selfishly utilizing public funds. Unfortunately, the king died before the castle was complete, and therefore many of the major features remain unbuilt to this day, with only 14 rooms finished.

The Myth:

2013-05-18 04.52.31

Ludwig II is often called ‘Mad King Ludwig‘. His younger brother Otto was considered insane, so it is claimed to be hereditary. He was deposed on the grounds of mental incapacity despite lack of medical support.

Furthermore Ludwig II died under mysterious circumstances when both him and is doctor were found dead in the waist-high water of Lake Starnberg the day after his confinement. The doctor had managed to sustain unexplained injuries to both his head and shoulder.

 

 

Travel: Medieval Dreams of Prague

Prague, how can I even begin to describe the city that beckoned to me, the land that shimmers of fairytales, and the nights filled with good friends, appetizing beer, and laughter. This city succeeded where others have failed, she completely disarmed my strategic schedule, teasing me with her untarnished history, her colorful culture, and her people.

2013-05-12 03.54.44

This city’s origins are from the Paleolithic age. In 200 BC, the celts established an oppidum in the south, and at the end of the 1st century BC, this population was primarily composed of the Germanic Tribes. This gave way to Slavics in the 6th century AD, following the collapse of the Western Roman Empire.

Legend says that a Czech Duchess and Prophet  Slavics and her husband, Přemysl, founded this as a simple fortified fort in the year 800. They were also the founders of the Přemyslid dynasty. The first masonry beneath Prague Castle dates from 885.

This region became the seat of the dukes, and in time, the capital for the kings of Bohemia. During this time, it was elevated to archbishopric, and became a vibrant merchant city for individuals from all regions of europe. In the 14th century, Prague flourished as the third largest city and Imperial Capital of the Holy Roman Empire. During this time, under the reign of emperor Charles IV, construction of the Saint Vitus Cathedral was completed. He also personally laid the first foundation stone for the Charles Bridge.

2013-05-12 07.52.152013-05-12 03.54.01

However, the flourishing was not to last, the trade guilds became increasingly more powerful as the craftsmen deftly wielded the economy  As a result a large differentiation in social strate occurred  and the number of poor people continued to increase. You can still see remains of a fortification wall that was built, despite being unnecessary  in the 1360s to provide employment to workers and food for their families.

I like Charles IV already! He seemed sympathetic to the struggles of the commoners, and tried to alleviate their suffering during the famine. Unfortunately, He died in 1378, and during the reign of his son, King Wenceslaus IV, intense religious turmoil began to invade the city…