So we are just taking day trips around Germany over this long Labor Day weekend. We decided to go visit the small town of Wonsees to visit the area known as Sanspareil. It is said that during the mid 18th century a lady of the court visited the rock garden and upon viewing exclaimed, “Ah, c’est sans pareil!” – “It has no equal!” – thus, Margrave Friedrich had Zwernitz renamed Sanspareil.
But anyway, our half-day trip. It was only about an hour and 15 minutes away and we stopped off in Bayreuth on the way up to have lunch. We ended up just eating McDonalds… I know… because it is easy. But then we got back on the road and ended up in Wonsees – an adorable little town full of old architecture and miniature horses. Can you tell what I notice first? We got parked and walked up to the castle first in hopes that it would warm up a little bit before we walked through the rock garden. (it did not) There is a small building across from the gates of the castle that you go into and you will find toilets, a gift shop, and the man to buy tickets from! He was so kind and we ended up chatting with him for a while. He had been in the German military and worked with the Americans at Grafenwhoer in the 80’s (pretty sure I have that right). Once you have your tickets it is really just self-guided. I suggest reading about the history before you go through, as almost all of the provided info is only in German. By doing my research before hand and also using Word Lens to give me clues I was able to be our tour guide with a basic knowledge.
The castle itself was quite interesting to walk through. The first room held old clock parts, an old safe, and other items for days past. Once you walk through you can look into a room that has not been updated and looked to be a practice area. They also have original suits of armor on display along with many different kinds of jousting equipment. From there you actually get to climb (I say climb because the stairs are more like a ladder) up to the top of the tower. From there you have an amazing view of the entire town. Both Billy and I were amazed at just how thick the walls were. Looking through the windows the walls were over 2 feet thick in places. Once we got back down to the bottom we were able to look down into the dungeon, which I didn’t read about. But there were bones lying in the depths so I am guessing it was not a dungeon you wanted to visit. This kind of thing will never cease to fascinate me.
Then when you get to the second part you get to see a lot of old hunting equipment and a great collection of hunting themed art. There is also a collection of stag on display. The workmanship of something just as simple as the plaque holding the antlers and heads amazed me.
There were also some of the guns from the castles prime. Just looking at the details in the metalwork and carvings in the wood makes me wish we still did things like this by hand. We actually know a man who still does the metal work and it is truly amazing. But it saddens me to see technique like this becoming a lost art.
Once we walked through these rooms we went back outside and into the small structure you can see “hanging” out on the ledge here:
It was the prison! And you can actually walk through the 3 cells and see what it would have been like. Not great… but you had a nice view!
From here we went back down and across the road to walk through the rock garden. We didn’t get to go inside the oriental building because there was a wedding party taking photos kind of blocking the way… but we did walk through the rock garden, which I have to say was my favorite part. I wish more had been left intact over the years but it was still just a magical place to walk through. I would love to go back and wonder through again.
The stage was by far the coolest part for me. You are wandering through the forest and at the farthest point, you walk around a huge rock formation and come across an elaborately built stone stage, complete with sculptures, a pit for the orchestra, and an open air roof. I wish I knew more about it, like who performed and what kind of performances were held here. As we walked through I tried to imagine what it would have been like to come and see a show out in the middle of the woods during the mid-1700’s.
All in all, well worth a trip.
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