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Calendar >  A Night In A Castle

A Night In A Castle

By   /  November 23, 2015  /  No Comments

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TR Robertson

TR Robertson

A trip to Europe usually includes a wide variety of activities and experiences that will offer the traveler a unique look into the country they are visiting. One such experience, for many, is a stay in one of the hundreds of castles scattered throughout Europe. On one of my family’s trips, we had the good fortune to stay in the Castle Hotel Auf Schonburg, located on a small hill above the medieval town of Oberwesel, in the middle of the Rhine Valley in Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany. My wife, my two sons, some of our relatives, my wife’s cousin and I were traveling through Germany on our way to Amsterdam. My wife, Carolyn, had booked a stay for us in this beautiful, ancient castle above the Rhine River and we were all in for a unique experience.

Photos By Carolyn Robertson

The history of Auf Schonburg goes back almost a thousand years. It is first mentioned in text as a small development existing between 911-1166. Until the 17th century, many groups existed in this area and many families fought over the right to rule in the castle as it grew in size and importance. During the 12th century, the Dukes of Schonburg ruled over the town of Oberwesel and lived in the castle. They raised funds by levying customs taxes for those traveling down the Rhine River by the town. Auf Schonburg was one of the few castles in which, after the death of the ruling Duke, all of the sons of the Duke would become heir to the castle. For most other castles, the eldest son would inherit the castle, but not at Auf Schonburg. At the height of its power, the 14th century, Auf Schonburg would accommodate up to 250 persons living in the castle made up of 24 different families. The most famous of the Schonburgs would be Friedrich von Schonburg, much feared as Marshall Schonburg. He served as a colonel and later a general during the 17th century under the King of France. The Schonburg main lineage would disappear with the death of the last heir, the son of Friedrich.

The castle caught fire and burned in 1689, set by French soldiers during the Palatinate Heritage War. It would remain in ruin for 2 centuries. The castle was purchased by an American of German ancestry, Mr. Rhinelander, from the town of Oberwesel, in the late 19th century. He invested 2 million Gold Marks, over 1 million dollars in today’s money, on a restoration project that would last until 1914. In 1950, the town council of Oberwesel acquired the castle from Mr. Rhinelander’s son. Since 1957, the Huttl family has lived at the castle on a long-term lease where they would establish a hotel and restaurant. Today, the 2nd generation of the Huttl family now lives and runs the castle business.

As we approached the castle in our rental cars, the first thing we noticed as we got closer to the castle, was a narrow bridge we would have to navigate our cars over to a parking area outside of the castle walls. Upon entering the castle through a large arched opening, we checked in and each couple was assigned rooms in the castle. We would discover that they were scattered throughout the castle, several in one of the towers. My wife and I, along with our two sons, were given what I would refer to as a suite. When you first entered the room, to the right was a huge bathroom with a massive tub. Just past this was a bedroom with two beds (my son’s room), up a flight of stairs to a sitting room with a fireplace and on the antique table a beautiful, full brandy snifter with glasses. Our bedroom was quite large and also had a fireplace and a huge 4 poster bed. The 24 rooms that comprise the hotel of the castle come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  All have antique furniture in them, many have lounges, libraries, sitting rooms, some have fireplaces, several have terraces that overlook the Rhine. Their locations range from ground level to high in the towers. Part of the fun was exploring the castle and looking in on the rooms we were able to see. The hotel is open March to January with December and January being the high season. Room rates run from $155 to $410 depending on the size and location of the room.

Another feature of this castle was the five rooms or areas set aside for dining. The Pfalzgrafenstein Terrace was an outdoor area for breakfast. Green vines covered the walls and many of the tables were along a waist high wall that had a view of the Rhine River. The Gobelin Room had a stunning wood décor and was one of the restaurants used for dinners. The Squire Room was a smaller, romantic restaurant, called Knappenstube, mostly set-up for couples dining. The Knight’s Room was festively designed for family dining and used for parties, wedding receptions and other larger events. Our group had dinner in the fifth restaurant called the Rhineview Terrace. This is also an outdoor eating area used for dinners. There is both a set gourmet menu and a menu you can order from ala carte. The menu we had was a set menu of foods that might have been served during the years the castle was at its height. We wanted to try something different, and different it was and I can’t say it was all that good. I found the meats a little gamey.  I might have had trouble eating during those early years of castle life. The menu prices ranged from $49-$79 for meals, not including ala carte items you might choose to add.

My wife and I love staying in hotels that have character, have a story and have a history. Staying in a castle accomplishes all of these. Many of the castles throughout Europe, England, Ireland, Scotland and other countries have been turned into bed and breakfasts or hotels, usually to assist the owners of the castle in keeping the castle open. Some castles are able to survive as museums for visiting tourists. Downtown Abbeys success, from the popular PBS T.V. show, has given hope for other owners of mansions or castles that they can make a living and maintain the continued existence of these once famous structures. One thing is clear, if you have the opportunity to stay in one of these magnificent castles, you should take in the experience. It will be lasting memory. As it says in the brochure “Genieben und sich verwohnen lassen” – Enjoy and let yourself being spoilt.

For more information on Auf Schoenburg go to www.hotel-schoenburg.com or you can e mail huettl@hotel-schoenburg.com.

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  • Published: 8 years ago on November 23, 2015
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  • Last Modified: November 23, 2015 @ 5:17 pm
  • Filed Under: Travel
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