Friday, March 3, 2017

Two Must See Prussian Castles in the Mecklenburg Lakeland, Germany


This is the last installment of three posts covering our houseboat trip through the Mecklenburg Lakeland in former East Germany. A destination rich in history, nature and culture, the area features 75 miles of interconnected lakes, canals and waterways. 


My husband and I spent a week onboard the Potsdam with our German extended family cruising this beautiful and interesting destination. 


As I detailed in my previous posts, there is so much to do and cover in this area, one could spend months discovering it. 




From nature preserves to the local food scene, pottery factories and aviation museum, the list of attractions are long and varied. 


One of my favorite parts of this trip for me was visiting two of the Prussian palaces open to the public. The castles have mostly been lovingly and meticulously restored. During the DDR times, many were used as hospitals or for government purposes, their splendor and treasures stripped away.


Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to visit Schwerin, often called the Neuschwanstein of the North,  However, the two palaces I visited were both beautiful and full of the area's rich and royal history.


Rheinsberg Palace


Located in Rheinsberg, Germany, this rococo gem is beautifully situated on Lake Grienerick. 




Since the middle ages, a castle has stood on these grounds. In 1566 King Frederick William I of Prussia reconstructed the castle into a Renaissance style structure. 




In the 1700s Frederick the Great  who is said to have spent the happiest years of his life here, conducted extensive renovations in what is known now as Frederician Rococo style, its present incarnation.  After WWII the palace was converted to a diabetes clinic. There is nothing clinical about the palace now.




After entering the palace, visitors are free to wander from room to room. Each has a different theme, style and/or color scheme. 



I took my time, savoring the beautiful details in each room on the doors, ceilings and furniture pieces. 




It was early in the season so thankfully, the castle was not crowded with visitors. I found myself mostly alone in the splendor of the rooms enveloped in peace and quiet. 




It was easy to let my imagination run wild and picture it populated with royalty dressed in silks, furs and jewels. So American of me. 




One of my favorite rooms was this one with a cool, icy light blue and silver color scheme. Simple but effectively royal.





One of two rooms completely decked out in Chinese motif.





There were restored tapestries on display. Don't hold me to restored, they may have been reproductions.



This palace still had a few rooms still undergoing renovation. One was this seashell themed salon. It since has been completed.




What looked like real seashells were integrated into the room's intricate designs on the walls and ceiling.


How's this for a bedroom with drama?



In addition to featuring a collection of paintings and sculptures, this room sported a zodiac themed ceiling.




Speaking of ceilings, this painted one blew me away. You could becme dizzy if you looked at it too long.




Another stunning detailed ceiling.



I love a castle with a view.




Some more of the beautifully restored pieces of furniture on display.



 


One of the last rooms I visited, this one had an unusual outdoor/nature theme.





Mirow's Castle Island


This spot in the Mecklenburg Lakeland is where you get two for one. On this little island are two main buildings to tour, one is a baroque style palace.




The other is the Cavalier house. These structures were built as palace extensions palaces and sometimes used as a guest house for royal relatives and courtiers. This one was originally built as a kitchen and service building. The two structures sit facing each other surrounded by royal gardens on the island. 




This castle, built in the 1700s was the birthplace of Queen Sophie Charlotte (great grandmother of Princes William and Harry). Queen Sophie was also the aunt of Prussia's much beloved Queen Louise.




Between the end of WWI and the fall of the DDR the buildings were used as a museum, a granary and a retirement home respectively. 




The castle is a short walk from where we docked the houseboat. There is a gate house to pass through upon approaching the castle. 




The spot also boasts the beautiful St. John's Church (dedicated to St. John the Baptist) which dates back to the 13th century. 




It was rebuilt after it was destroyed in 1945. 




In addition to the royal tomb, on its grounds are several other graves and monuments, representing layers of history.



Grave 0f 13 soldiers from WWI
I toured the palace first.




Before you gain entrance to the palace rooms there is an extensive exhibit of the history of the Meckelnburg-Strelitz area.



As well as a history lesson of the Prussian royal lineage.




And a lesson in local coats of arms.





After the history lesson, I moved on to explore the rooms of the gorgeous restored palace.




Which went from royal red.




To pretty in pink.


 

To beautiful blue.


I loved these stunning embroidered wall embellishments.




Clever use of a shadow box encasing original castle items.




The details on the room heaters were hard not to fall in love with.




Lots of historical painting lining the walls.



Again, the details...



This girly salon spoke to me.



 

It was time to make my way over to the cavalier house.  




The house itself is converted to a museum and showcases the clothing and fashions of the day.


Many exhibits are interactive. 



Unlike the Rheinberg Palace, most exhibits were also marked in English in addition to German.


There is also quite a bit of history about Queen Sophie, her dress and cosmetic and beauty regime.




Do not miss the gift shop. There are many beautiful items to buy, from scarves and bags to beautiful locally made foods. 




This elderflower rose syrup was a real find. I also bought a beautiful flower designed sturdy tote bag and some other small gifts. 




The romantic and tragic high point of the palace island is the Love Island (Liebesinsel), the resting place of Grand Duke Adolph Friedrich VI, the last reigning Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.




The Duke, one of the richest bachelors of his time committed suicide at age 35.  Rumors swirl around his death range from he was murdered to his alleged homosexuality to his desire to marry a nonroyal.



The monument on his tomb is in the shape of a broken column, symbolizing a life ended too soon. 




Love island is a beautiful place to sit and rest your travel weary feet for a spell. 




Unfortunately, shortly after visiting the Duke's resting place,  it was time to head back to the boat, meet up with the family and shove off. 




From castles to wildlife, to culture to local food specialties, to layers of royal, soviet and world war history, Germany's Mecklenburg Lakeland is a wonder of discovery. 



In a week of cruising the area I feel like I only scratched the surface. It's definitely a place to revisit over and over again. I feel so lucky to have explored the area on a houseboat, a unique traveling experience for an equally unique destination.



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