Flossenburg Castle

September 25th, 2011 | Posted by Steve in Germany

Hi all,

These are a few decent travel photos with a snapshot thrown in.  I consider none of them to be really good so technical information does not accompany any of them.

Again, anyone who doesn’t want to get these emails just drop me a note.  Of course I always like hearing from any of you.

Yesterday, Saturday, Sep. 24 started out as laundry day.  6 of us piled into a van with our dirty clothes & drove to our worksite to do our wash & have brunch.  When we finally got back to the hotel it was pushing 1 pm.  A friend of mine, Crawford, and I wanted to do something for the rest of the afternoon, but could find no one to do it with.

We decided to go to Flossenburg where there is an old castle and a WWII concentration camp.  We got directions from one of the hotel hostesses.  She was dismissive of the castle, saying it was very old and implied it was also small.  Where I come from there are no castles except at Disneyland.  Old or small I thought seeing it would probably be a treat.

She wrote directions for us and we got a hold of a van.  Her directions were perfect and the German road signs were a great help.  By 2 we had arrived at Flossenburg.  The castle sits high on a prominent hill above the town and is impossible to miss.  We drove around a bit and found that along with the town, the cemetery, and a sport park sit at the bottom approaches to the hill.  We found free parking near the cemetery and began to climb the hill.

The castle dates to 1107 and sits an easy 500’ or more above the town.  The hill is a granite promontory, which was used as a quarry for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Now the area is a nature preserve.  The grass, bushes, and trees have covered any signs of the quarry, although from the top a modern quarry can be seen from the summit at least a mile distant to the west.

As the town’s main export, granite for building and paving grew popular so did the town.  At some point it reached a minor vacation resort status.  The area grew in popularity during the Nazi era, which in Germany I have seen referred to as the National Socialist reign of terror.  The castle became popular among the Nazis as an early example of the Aryan peoples resisting the Slavic peoples from the east.

So much for 1930’s politics.  The walkway to the top is steep.  It must have been an easy 20% grade.  We saw some people struggling to get up the path and others wholly winded once at the top.  Crawford and I have been climbing stairs to our hotel room for the last 3 weeks.  I am pleased to say the climb up stressed my legs, but not my lungs.

Once inside the castle there is more or less a main level with attached courtyards, then there is the climb to the top of the keep.  Some of the stairs are obviously old if not original.  Throughout much of the lower climb hand rails are placed to keep you on the walkway.  Otherwise a catastrophic fall could easily await.  Once inside the small confines of the main keep the stairs become very steep, but modern.   Also, some of the lesser towers and battlements are off limits.

From below facing east I got the feeling I was looking at the prow of a giant ship about to run me down.

 

 

Next is a main level view.  In the grassy area off to the left the main tower sits on the hill’s crown of granite.  The top of the main tower is perhaps 75 or more feet above this level.  As we were leaving two climbers were gearing up to scale the sheer face and rappel back down.

 

This next photo is looking up at the round tower shown above on the right.  The tower and the way to it across the battlements were off limits.

 

This photo is a view from the attached courtyard looking east toward part of the town in the distance.

 

Once we finally made it to the top of the keep Crawford and I posed each other for snapshots.  Here I am getting older and uglier, and until yesterday, in a place I never dreamed I would be.  By this time the sun was reaching a low angle so I made sure the brim of my hat shielded my eyes.  The round disk in the foreground at left is a map of sorts.  It points the way to various points of interest in the area.

 

From the top of the keep looking south you get a view of the top of the round tower and the town below.

 

Inside the main tower a jagged hole or window shows a similar view.  I always look for frames to use in my photos.

 

This last photo is looking out over the town to the east & southeast.

There is a radio or TV in the middle foreground somewhat to the right of center.  The building in the town below that with the largest red roof is the Commandant’s headquarters of the Flossenburg Concentration Camp.  Another of the surviving buildings, housing an excellent museum, is off on the right.  Off to the right a bit more there is a small building peeking out from the trees.  It is one of the surviving guard towers.  The concentration camp will be the subject of the next email(s).

 

Steve

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