Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology


21.9.08
  Some Castles, Lots of Landscape, and a Church or Two

Not a bad booty for two days. Actually, it's indeed two Romanesque churches, and two and a half castles (there has been one on the Ilsestein cliff but almost nothing is left).

Let's begin with the Harzburg, already mentioned a few times on this blog. At the zenith of its power Harzburg Castle could have competed with the Norman castles in size despite being a typical German hilltop castle, but not much has been preserved besides part of the curtain walls, the well house and a few foundations and trenches. One tower and the bridge have been reconstructed.

Harzburg, part of the outer curtain wall

The well house has been repaired and a roof added to protect the structure. If King Heinrich IV indeed fled that way as legend has it, he must have been very courageous or very desperate, or maybe both. It doesn't look like a way I'd like to take - it goes down pretty deep and it's dark and wet. More Harzburg photos can be found here.

Harzburg, the well house

This tour involved even more wandring than the one in July albeit in cooler weather, and my feet hurt a bit tonight. The better hiking trails in the National Park Harz are either needle covered wood ground with roots and boulders strewn in, or pebbles. The bad parts look like this. (The handholds are necessary because a misstep would send you down a 150 metres shortcut to the valley.)

Path at the Ilsestein

But the views are worth it, once you managed to get up there from the valley. Well, it's good for the blood circulation and burns some of that rich dinner from the day before. Harz hiking tours are not for whimps, though I think a bunch of doughty dwarves with Old Norse names and the odd Ranger would do fine, especially since the Harz is rich in mines as well.

View from Paternoster cliffs near the Ilsestein

Where there are mountains and granite cliffs, there are also lush green valleys with trees and swift running brooks. Not that the paths along the rivers are any easier to walk, though, sometimes they get very close to the water, with a granite wall on the other side and only some 50 cm to stick to. I love me my trusty walking stick.

Ilse river

But it was fun, and two Benedictine monastery churches added a whiff of culture. I've visited both the churches in Drübeck and Ilsenburg shortly after the reunion, and I was glad to see the churches have been renovated and some of the outhouses restored. There is still a lot of repair to be done, though, forty years of neglect left a helluva work behind.

Drübeck monastery church (Klosterkirche)

I did not see any dwarves, alas, nor the Princess Ilse or the Raubritter clan (knights prone to highway robbery) from the Ilsestein. I'm glad though I didn't meet Heinrich IV; I'm sure he was in a very bad mood after the Saxons kicked him out of the Harzburg. What I did see was the Saxon god Krodo and a demon plot squirrel.

My father said he'd seen a witch - the Harz with the Brocken is witch country, after all - but I love him nevertheless. *grin*
 
Comments:
Gorgeous shots of the castle, wellhouse, stream and valley! It looks like a remarkable walk. No dwarves or preincesses though?
They must have been on vacation!
:-)
And looking at the rocky terrain, I can see why you like your walking stick!
 
Thank you, Sam.
The dwarves were probably busy inside the mountains, and the princess slept in late. :)
 
It sounds like you had a great time, and I loved the photos. I, too, see why you needed your walking stick. LOL Only you would see a demon plot squirrel. ;-)
 
You weren't wearing those sandals again, were you? ;-)

Great pics - you can almost smell the fresh air (or is it the dwarves?). And are you and Susan (Higginbotham) conspiring on a witchy theme this week? Halloween's still a few weeks away, you know ;-)
 
God, these are beautiful photos, Gabriele!
~yearning, yearning~
 
Thank you, Shelley.
Demon plot squirrels are a lot sneakier than ordinary plotbunnies.

Lol, Lady D., wish I had. Those sandals were a lot more comfortable than the shoes I did wear. ;)

Bernita, thank you.
 
What's the legend about Heinrich IV? Did he escape by hiding down the well, or something?
 
Carla, down the well and through a secret vault. :)

Well, he did escape a castle under siege, so there must have been some unusual way. But the Harzburg is not easy to lay siege to - lot's of steep slopes on all sides.

The damn chronicles don't tell us any details.
 
Gorgeous photos! Want to go to Germany...

Watch out for them demon plot squirrels. Nasty little buggers, they are. ;)

Is there a link between the names Princess Ilse and Ilsenstein?
 
Thanks, Kirsten. And you're welcome to visit Germany, it's very nice. :)

Yes, there are some legends about Princess Ilse that connect her with the river also named Ilse, and thus the Ilsenstein and other places.
 
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Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction and Fantasy author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK and Scandinavia.

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I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.

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