Mission Statement

This blog journals my quest of art, whether it is a piece of work that is inherent in nature or one created by artists known or unknown or that I created myself. During this search, I have come to appreciate the magnificence and generosity of God who in his infinite wisdom surrounded us with exquisiteness everyday...everywhere and inspired our human spirit to create beauty that feeds our bodies and souls. Come join me on my journey to find art through my travels and my own creative endeavors. Maraming salamat.

All rights to all posts and contents on this blog, including photos and artwork are reserved by jojo sabalvaro tan.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Castles in the Air - Burghotel auf Schönburg

Burghotel Auf Schönburg, Oberwesel, Germany

At the airport, as we were lined up to check in for our flight to Ireland , conversations buzzed around the travelers in queue and their anticipation of their castle tours . We were also embarking on a castle tour, but in Germany instead of Ireland or England.  It seems that to stay in European castles is  all the rage nowadays.  I must have somehow absorbed the vibe when I was planning another European road trip for a couple of my high school classmates and my husband and I.  We were originally planning on staying at castles for the entire trip but we decided to stay in just two, opting for a more convenient smack-right-in-the-middle-of-the-sights accommodations in Cologne and Rothenburg ob der Tauber. 

The castle I was most excited about was the Burghotel auf Schönburg located above the town of Oberwesel in the midst of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley. As we were driving along the banks of the Rhine River, we had no difficulty spotting it towering atop a rocky bluff.  We parked in the parking lot before a wood bridge. We could have crossed the bridge to  park closer to the castle but we were afraid that the bridge would not hold up the weight of the car and passengers (it actually does). The castle was an imposing sight from up close, a typical fortified medieval stronghold  with thick walls, battlements and stone towers.

Climbing up to the summit with my walking stick

So goes our trek from the car, crossing the narrow wooden bridge, up a steep winding hill paved with smooth cobblestones, through the gates and to the top where the entrance to the hotel was located. Good thing I purchased a walking stick at Boppard to help me with the climb. We were huffing and puffing by the time we got to the main door of the burghotel and we were not even carrying our luggage which we wisely left in the car.

Map of the castle and gardens at the back of the scroll

When we checked in, we were given a scroll as a certificate of our stay and keys attached to chains with a heavy pewter knight ornament - it was not a set of keys that you could easily lose. We gave our car keys to the reception who phoned to have our luggage brought up to our rooms.  On our way to our rooms, we were given a little tour of the castle. There was a very cozy library that invited you to sit and read, a keeping room with a huge fireplace and a number of lovely dining areas including  terraces with a panoramic view of the Rhine. The scroll included a map of the castle and the grounds which we could explore at leisure.

One of the many nooks and crannies

Some of the public rooms

View from the terrace

We were told that each room is different in size and configuration  since they conformed to the unusual shape of the castle. The rooms were accessible through a maze of narrow corridors and winding staircases.  Mercifully, this castle has an elevator - something out of place in a medieval castle but very welcome for those of us who dreaded climbing up the narrow winding staircase of the castle.

View from the lead paned windows in our room

Our room
Our room décor combine historic period furnishing with modern comfortable conveniences seamlessly and had a very romantic feel. No two rooms are alike. We were treated to imposing views of the Rhine below from the tiny diamond lead paned windows in our rooms. One of the rooms had a wooden balcony and the other one had a secret door that led to the restored ruins of the curtain wall of the castle. Here you could walk along the wall  and it would not be hard to  imagine how it would have been to defend and protect the castle from that vantage point during the middle ages. We also found an extra bed tucked in under the window hidden by curtains. It looked like one of the sleeping berths on a train. We toasted to the "Good Life" with the complimentary bottle of Sherry and fresh fruits.

Complimentary Sherry and fresh fruits
The Curtain Wall
The Gobelin Hall
At the lovely castle dining room, we had a delicious gourmet five-course candlelit dinner.
My favorite dish was the cocktail of shrimps and avocado with green herb sauce. We accompanied our meal with the local Riesling and beer. A sumptuous breakfast was served in the cozy breakfast room (Gobelin Room named for the Gobelin tapestry theme). Our seating by the window seemed fit for royalty as it was set higher than the rest of the tables.

Our seats at breakfast

As a souvenir, I bought a book about Schönburg Castle  and learned more about the history of the place . It was first mentioned in history as early as 911AD. Emperor Barbarossa of the Holy Roman Empire granted the castle to a member of the Schönburg family who ruled it from the 12th century until their line eventually died out with the death of the last heir. The castle was burned down in 1689 by the French army during the Palatinate Wars. It remained in ruins until it was purchased and restored by German -American banker Rhinelander in the 19th century. In 1957, the Huettl family was granted a long term lease on the property and today they operate the castle hotel and restaurant. There were many famous guests at the castle including many heads of states, members of royal families from Europe and Asia, as well as captains of industries such as Aristotle Onassis and his family and celebrities such as Ella Fitzgerald and First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Old etching of Schonburg Castle, the town of Oberwesel and the Rhine

 I wrote this little poem as an homage of our perfect castle stay experience:

Castles in the Air
by jojo sabalvaro tan

No longer Castles in the Air
Our dreams of staying in a castle fair
Where do the knights and maidens keep
The secret loves of their hearts so deep
The castle walls whisper still
Just listen as the church bells peal.
Screams of torture, squeals of delight
You'll hear before the morning light. 
The ghosts of the past fear not, my dear
For I'll hold your hand and always be near

For more information on Medieval Castles please visit: http://medieval-castles.net/

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