My Illlustrated Travel Journal with Essays about Roman and Mediaeval History and some Geology


29.9.12
  In the Land of Saale and Unstrut

We followed some stations on the Romanesque Road in southern Saxony-Anhalt, and kept running into castles. Like this one we saw from the breakfast room in our hotel - what a nice view to wake up to.

Neuenburg Castle near Freyburg

The Neuenburg was founded in 1090 by Ludwig the Leaper who also built the Wartburg. The castle was extended in the 12th century and its most beautiful features date from that time, like the chapel. It also got several towers, halls, walls and gates to turn it into the big boy you can see today.

Neuenburg, outer bailey (Vorburg)

After the Ludowing landgraves died out, the castle fell to the margraves of Meissen of the House Wettin, who further altered the castle - it proabably needed even bigger walls. In the 17th century the Neuenburg came into possession of the prince electors of Saxony who used it as hunting lodge and added some Baroque frills. Like many castles in the former GDR, it didn't fare too well, but was renovated after the reunion..

View from the outer curtain wall to one of the palas buildings

"At the bright shores of the Saale
Castles standing proud and keen;
Their fair walls are partly fallen
And the wind blows through the hallways
Clouds are drifting overhead."


Thus goes an old folksong, and it certainly fits the twin castles of Rudelsburg and Saaleck. And the wind did indeed blow through the halls the day we went there.

North tower of the Rudelsburg in the foreground,
west tower of Castle Saaleck in the background

The Rudelsburg was built in 1050 to protect a local border, and expanded in 1150. It changed possession a few times and ended up as ruin, like Castle Saaleck, though the palas houses a restaurant today.

Rudelsburg, seen from Castle Saaleck

Castle Saaleck is first mentioned in 1140 and was for some time in the possession of the bishops of Naumburg. It fared worse than its neighbour and today only the two - partly reconstruced - towers and bits of the curtain walls remain.

Eckardsburg

This one is the main seat of the Eckardsberga marshals of the Ebersburg in the Harz who we already met. The castle was a possession of the landgraves of Thuringia and is another one that retains some Romanesque architectural features. The landgraves visited the castle a few times, so it played a role in history.

Querfurt Castle, with the tower Dicker Heinrich (Fat Henry)

Now we get to a real whopper. Querfurt Castle is seven times the size of the Wartburg. Parts of the inner curtain wall and the cellar of the Granary (Kornhaus) date to the 10th century, the two towers are from the 12th (Fat Henry) and 13th centuries (Torture Tower - though it actually was a keep and not a prison). Another tower and the outer curtain walls were added in the 14th century, the bastions in the 15th.

15th century bastion, southern gate and the 13th century Marterturm (Torture Tower)

The castle was the seat of the Noble Lords of Querfurt. The family rose to prominence a few times, most notably with Brun of Querfurt who became a martyr in the late 10th century, and Konrad of Querfurt, Bishop of Hildesheim and Würzburg and chancellor of the Emperor Heinrich VI.

The Romanesque chapel (with the Torture Tower to the left and Fat Henry to the right)

A jewel on the Romanesque Road is the monastery of Memleben. Albeit only ruins remain, it is indeed a pretty place to visit, especially in sunshine. There most likely was a palatine seat during Ottonian times since both King Heinrich I and Emperor Otto the Great died in Memleben, but no traces have yet been found. Though it's not easy to catch those early places because most of it was built of timber. There was a large church in the 10th century of which only a few bits of wall remain.

Memleben, remains of the main nave of the 13th century church

The other and somewhat better preserved Romanesque church dates to the 13th century. It fell into decline after the Reformation but the remains still give an impression of the former beauty of the church. The crypt has also been preserved.

Memleben, the crypt

The most famous church this time around was the cathedral in Naumburg. There had been an older church but when Naumburg became the seat of a bishop, a larger church was needed. It was built on base of the older one and started out as late Romanesque (1210) in the east choir to progress to early Gothic in the west choir (about 1250).

Naumburg cathedral, the Romanesque east towers seen through the cloister

The west choir was built by the Master of Naumburg, architect and sculpturer. We've met one of his works in Mainz. The feature for which the cathedral is famous are the donator figures, a number of historical persons sculpted in stone with an amazing life-likeness of expression. You can detect them in the niches between the windows (see photo below) but of course, I got closeups of them, too.

Interior, view to the west choir and the choir screen

Usually, that place in the choir was reserved for ecclesiastical portraits, apostles, saints, maybe bishops, so to put lay persons there was very unusual. There's a theory that the statues may have replaced the tombs from the older church and thus gave the founders / donators a place of worship back.

The choir screen is a work of the Master of Naumburg as well.

West chor with the donator figures (Stifterfiguren) and Gothic windows

The last church in the collection is another Romanesque / Gothic hybrid. The monastery of Pforta, also known as Schulpforta, was a filial foundation of the Cistercian monastery in Walkenried, and like that one, has a double-arched cloister. The monastery served as boarding school (it still does) after the secularisation and thus survived.

Schulpforta Monastery, double cloister

So lots of Romanesque but no Romans. I hope my readers from that time excuse my lack of Roman posts lately. Aelius Rufus is already complaining about the long hiatus and even got out of his bath to tell me.

 
Comments:
I wish we had that kind of countryside - it's so scenic!
 
Fantastic pics!
 
Fat Henry - someone with a sense of humour gave that name to the tower. It rather suits it.
 
Daphne, I bet you have some scenic countryside too, just minus the castles.

Thank you, Kathryn.

Carla, yes it goes right with the nicknames for some people, like Mad Dog of the Leine Valley. :)
 
There's something satisfying about Romanesque architecture...
 
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The Lost Fort is a travel journal and history blog based on my travels in Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and other places. It includes essays on Roman and Mediaeval history, as well as some geology, illustrated with photos of old castles and churches, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.
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Location: Germany

I'm a blogger from Germany with a MA in Literature and History which doesn't pay my bills, so I use it to research blogposts instead. I'm interested in everything Roman and Mediaeval, avid reader and sometimes writer, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, photographer, and tea aficionado. And an old-fashioned blogger who hasn't yet gotten an Instagram account. :-)


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