about a dream: Day 44: Burg Liechtenstein

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 44: Burg Liechtenstein


This was exactly the castle experience we've been searching for. We didn't even know it existed until yesterday, and it was just fantastic.

But first, a little background. The castle was built 900 years ago, by a man named Hugo von Petronell. "Liechtenstein" literally means "bright stone," and Hugo apparently changed his name to Liechtenstein after building the castle. Or while building it. I guess he liked it better than von Petronell? The castle was destroyed by the Ottomans in the 1500s, laid in ruins for centuries, and then in the 1880s it was bought back by the ruling family of Liechtenstein. I suppose this means that this is the castle that gave the Liechtenstein family, and thus the country of Liechtenstein, their name. Unless someone along the way was just confused by the coincidence ("How many Liechtensteins can there be?" someone once said long ago. "It's got to be ours!") It was restored and enlarged, and decorated in the way the castle renovators of the 1880s thought a Romanesque castle looked. Ever since its renovation, it has been used as a museum. There's no heat, electricity, or plumbing in the castle, so even Nina says she wouldn't care to live there. Probably.

Unfortunately, we don't have any pictures from inside the castle. They don't allow any. So here are some more pictures from the outside:

This one was taken outside of the entrance. The tower that you see directly above Maggie's head is the chapel tower. The tour guide told us we couldn't go up there because the tower didn't pass city inspection for large groups. I guess stone and mortar isn't as stable as steel reinforced concrete after all.

We did go inside the chapel itself, which was very small. There was an interesting and very small red chalk drawing of a crucifix with Mary and I want to say John, but I don't remember. It was made when the chapel was first built or shortly thereafter, and this is remarkable because chalk shouldn't last that long. The tour guide referred to that as "really miraculous," but I don't think it's a church sanctioned miracle. Still, very cool.

Other highlights inside the castle included Austria's oldest bed. Not very comfy looking! It was actually more like a semi-circle about two feet deep in the wall. But they didn't lie down to sleep on this bed, because people didn't lie down to sleep at all in that day (!!!!!). They sat in it! Why did they sleep sitting up? Because they didn't have a lot of clean water to drink, you know, and so they drank a lot of wine. And the wine in the day, besides having a high alcohol content, was very acidic. So, people threw up a lot in their sleep, and so they'd sleep sitting up so that they didn't aspirate their vomit.

What!! The more I learn about history, the more I am happy to live in the here and now. Oh, and also they thought lying down was for dead people, and since lying down to sleep did cause death, I guess they were right. Even the king and queen would sleep like this! Drunkenness for all!

Another interesting tidbit was that the castle's bare, stone walls are an inaccurate representation of the Romanesque time. By the 1100s, they had figured out that wood panelling kept the castle warmer, so that was de rigeur. I didn't know that. I always pictured castles as having bare stone walls, with maybe some tapestries to keep them warmer.

From the top floor of the castle, which was only added in the 1880 renovation, we could see Vienna and I think all the way to Bratislava, but really who can tell. Here, see for yourself!

Well, it's hard to see. Photos of the distance never come out well. It's just one of those things that you have to see on your own. But the girls look awfully cute, so the picture stays!

Here's a picture from what's maybe the courtyard, instead:

Alright, bed time for me. There's probably more that I should remember, but it's almost midnight, and we went to a Heurigen for dinner with some friends of ours (Nick's old friend Any, his wife Uli, and their son Alexander) after the castle, so I am beat!

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