The state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern counts 2,000 castles and manor houses, many of which not only offer an impressive sight, but also a range of exciting experiences. From tests of courage and thrills at dizzying heights, to concerts and readings in unique historical settings, to papier-mâché classes and moonlight hikes. In Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, there is sure to be a castle for all occasions.
On calm days, you might think that there are two castles in the center of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern's state capital. That is, when the smooth surface of Lake Schwerin reflects an exact replica of the pointed towers, mullioned windows and sandstone-colored facade of Schwerin Castle. Surrounded by water and modeled on French Renaissance castles, Schwerin Castle is considered the most famous in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
The history of the impressive magnificent building dates back to the 10th century. Thanks to two major building phases in the 16th and 19th centuries, the complex became the impressive architectural backdrop that today attracts many visitors to the offshore island in Lake Schwerin. The museum inside the palace features 19th-century paintings, sculptures and handicrafts. Visitors can stroll through the grand apartments and soak up the staged atmosphere of the past. Guests should also be sure to allow time for a stroll through the park surrounding the palace, which includes an orangery, grotto, and pretty collonade courtyard.
Next to Schwerin Castle, Willigrad Castle, located on the western shore of Lake Schwerin, often receives little attention. Quite wrongly. Situated above the steep bank, guests here not only enjoy an outstanding view over the lake, but the impressive neo-Renaissance building also houses the Wiligrad Art Association, which has made a name for itself internationally as a platform for contemporary painting, graphics and sculpture with more than 200 exhibitions since its founding in 1990. In addition to the exhibitions, the association also organizes series of events such as "Jazztime trifft Kunst," which has been held on the castle's terrace since 2015. Readings are also held in the castle complex, which was built in 1900 - an experience in a very special atmosphere. The castle is nestled in a garden landscape restored according to the original plans, whose mighty rhododendron groves bloom colorfully in summer.
Mirow Castle is located on a small island in Lake Mirow in the Mecklenburg Lake District. Anyone who catches sight of the yellow castle among the trees will probably find it hard to imagine that no less a person than Queen Charlotte, the Queen of Great Britain, grew up in such a modest and down-to-earth-looking castle. In 1761, the then princess spent her last night in Mirow Castle and then traveled to Great Britain to marry the English King George.
Mirow Castle is special for another reason: it is the last monument in which the ducal residential culture of the Mecklenburg-Strelitz dynasty has been preserved. This makes the castle of irreplaceable value for cultural history, which guests can learn about today in the castle's own museum. After visiting the palace, visitors can explore the park grounds of the palace along winding paths. Baroque avenues and a love island invite visitors to take a stroll, and if that's not enough, the castle island also features a Renaissance gatehouse, a Johanniter church, the family crypt of the Strelitz ducal house, a Baroque cavalier's house and a café. Guests can also hop on a steamer from the jetty and take a tour of the lake.
Situated on a lofty point with a wide view over the country, this is how one imagines the location of a castle. This is exactly the case with the Granitz hunting lodge. Once the luxurious hunting seat of the Putbus princely family, the castle, built from 1837 onwards, is now a popular destination on the island of Rügen. However, visitors should bring enough stamina for a tour: Because the castle, which is located on the top of the highest mountain of Rügen, can be reached by a shuttle bus. Most guests, however, combine the visit with a beautiful hike through the forest area of the Granitz or get on an (e-)bike. Once at the top, the castle museum, which is well worth seeing, and a wonderful view over Rügen and the blue Baltic Sea all the way to the Bay of Binz await. Not to forget: the extra portion of thrill when climbing the 38 meter high imposing main tower. There are 154 cast-iron steps to climb, and you should be free from giddiness. Because through holes in the individual steps you can see all the way to the bottom of the tower. The guided moonlight walks to the castle and the classical concerts that take place from time to time in the Marble Hall are also guaranteed to be unforgettable.
World-famous musicians, classical sounds and a castle as a backdrop: sounds like a special combination? It is. Since 1994, the grounds of Ulrichshusen Castle have been one of the most important venues of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival, which offers various concert series in the state every year. Every year, classical music stars, emerging talents and orchestras from all over the world perform on the grounds of the Renaissance building, enchanting the audience with unforgettable classical music moments. Yehudi Menuhin, Daniel Hope, Kent Nagano, the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Anne-Sophie Mutter and many more have already performed on stage in the historic ambience of the castle grounds. The listed building also houses a hotel, from whose rooms one can enjoy a magnificent view over the lake, the historic grounds, the castle park and the natural landscape of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Creating a river where there was none before - what sounds like a task for a god, in the case of the Ludwigslust palace complex, a duke came up with. After all, the many water features that characterize the castle complex today would have been inconceivable in this area before the 18th century. It was not until the construction of a 28-kilometer-long canal that it became possible to channel water from the nearby rivers Stör and Rögnitz to Ludwigslust Castle. To this day, this water feeds the cascade and water features that make the architectural ensemble of palace, court church and English palace park so special.
Another architectural highlight is the heart of the palace: the Golden Hall. This one does not bear its name for nothing: Corinthian columns, crystal chandeliers, banisters, stucco elements on the ceiling and walls are decorated here with golden paint and bathe the room in warm light. But what is much more incredible than the sight of this room is the fact that many of the decorative applications are made of papier-mâché. That's right: The so-called "Ludwigsluster Karton," which was invented specifically for this purpose, became an export hit in the 18th and 19th centuries and was gradually installed in many other castles and manor houses. And it gets even better: If you want to bring a few golden decorative applications into your own four walls, you can book a papier-mâché course at Palais Bülow and create your own "Ludwigsluster Karton".
Cover image: ©Timm Allrich
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