Sunday, August 30, 2009

The hidden castle

I finished my cruise at the Rhine’s confluence with the Moselle River, at Koblenz, arriving in the evening. My intent had always been to use Koblenz as a base for a day trip to Burg Eltz, a tall and picturesque castle two hours along the Moselle, but I must have had a lapse of attention in my otherwise meticulous planning. I had booked a train to Cologne the next day at noon. I could have skipped Burg Eltz and concentrated on the pleasant, strollable Altstadt (“old town”) of Koblenz, but I decided instead to abandon my €17 train ticket and see the castle. It was wasteful, but I didn’t want to miss one of my must-sees on this trip for the sake of A$29.

From the Moselkern train station half an hour out of Koblenz, a 90-minute walk through forests and along streams takes you to the Eltz castle, towering above the valley. It is the only castle in the region to escape destruction by French forces under Louis XIV – all the others were blown up – and it has been restored several times under the custodianship of the same family which has owned it for 1000 years. The comforts of the castle were much advanced for the Middle Ages, and included rainwater flushed toilets.

It was predominantly for the photogenic aspect of the forest castle that I wanted to make the trip, but alas, the photographic expedition was a bit of a failure. No photography of the castle interiors was permitted, which is not unusual, but the light outside was really lousy. Bright sun struck the castle at the wrong angle, the afternoon light hazy enough without the wind also kicking up dust. Passing clouds which might filter the light skirted the sun like water avoiding an oily spot, so after waiting an age all I could do was put on a polarising filter and hope for the best. On top of this, the castle was blemished by the bane of architectural travel photographers: scaffolding. I can’t object to restoration or structural maintenance, but it seems that half of the castles and cathedrals in Europe are constantly marred with metal skeletons and veiling shrouds.

1 comment:

#win said...

wow, wow , good to read all the blogs Wayne :)