A couple of weeks ago we decided to visit Burg Castle in Solingen. Not just because it’s a castle, and we feel a little obliged to visit it whilst we are living so near it, but also because it had a medieval market that weekend and we just looove those! Getting there proved to become a small nightmare in itself, with a long walk to the train station, train ticket confusion, 2 bus rides and finally chair lift ride, for which we had to pay separately. After nearly two delightful hours, we got to the market.
The market itself was alright, not very large, and mostly with vendors selling food, drink or tat. Toys, cheaply made jewellery, a Celtic sword made in Taiwan and furs. Yes, furs. Apparently the German population doesn’t think twice about where these products come from for every man and his neighbor walked around with pelts like Game of Thrones’ “winter is coming”. Wolf, fox, cow, sheep, elk, you name it. Needless to say we didn’t get any and decided to check out the castle.
The castle in itself is fairly nice, although like many other German heritage sites it is restored to within an inch of it’s life. A beautiful place to get married, not so much to see the full brunt of history bearing down on the stones. I liked some of the weaponry on display, the little chapel and the apothecary that flared up a bout of envy in the storage-loving part of me. Imagine having a place like that of your own! There were lots of people in the castle due to the market (both inside and out which was a nice touch) and it made viewing some of the displays cumbersome to say the least.
Once outside the gates again we paid a visit to the Solingen knife shop, which has an impressive selection of fine pocket knives. We were actually a little disappointed that we didn’t manage to find any proper blades (swords) anywhere on the market stalls or in the shops surrounding the castle – but who knows, maybe they are hiding out there somewhere.
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On another weekend, we went to Schloss Benrath as we had use of the car this time. We found it easily enough with help of the Satnav, parked in one of the streets surrounding this little palace and got ourselves inside. There were two downers from the start: I had failed to look properly in my coupon book so I thought entrance would be free – AND it turned out we could only get in with a tour guide – so we paid the lady and waited for the tour to start. Everything was, ofcourse, in German. We had to leave our bags behind so I took my little camera out whilst we went round and managed to get a few nice images before I got slapped on the wrist for nobody was allowed to make photos! Oh my!
Truth be told, I was a little miffed. I would have LOVED to make a lot more photo’s in this place. Heck, I could use some decoration inspiration. Schloss Benrath is not a huge residential palace, but a sweet little summer getaway, lovingly restored and everything feels authentic. Every room has it’s own unique look and feel depending to it’s previous owner and function. They are doing everything they can to preserve the original marble and wood polished floors, so all the guests and tour guides have to wear slippers over their shoes when going round. There is even an upstairs section with a painting ‘gallery’ and servant quarters above those. The tour rushed us through some of the parts, for there are some sections that have little exhibits on display – and we didn’t get enough time to look at everything before being pushed on.
It is actually possible to see every part of the house, including going through the secret staircases and into the servant’s dwellings, but make sure to call in advance as only selected tours (in small groups) can enter. The gardens adjacent and to the rear of the palace are in French (hers) and English (his) styles and free to the general public.
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