Roman and Mediaeval History, Illlustrated Travel Journals, Mediaeval Literature, Geology

  Ain't it Pretty?

I managed to write the required 50,000 words to 'win' Nano. And a few days ahead to boot. When I registered my active participation this year, I had low expectations about the chance to win, but since several online friends do it, I decided to join. Well, it paid off. :-)

It was sheer stubbornness that kept me going some days when I didn't feel like writing after a stressful day at the job. But once I got into the flow, I usually could write a fair bit. Continuing to write the amount of words I did these last 25 days would take too much time off other things - like writing blog posts, for example - but I hope I can take some of the discipline with me into the next months.


  Nano Update

The National Novel Writing Month it is going better than I expected. I reached the halfway point (25,000 words) last night and thus I'm ahead and got a buffer of two days worth of writing.

Autumn at the Externsteine rock formation in the Teutoburg Forest

What I learned this year is the value of discipline. If I want to make it, I need to sit down every evening and write, even when I don't feel like it. Most days, the writing starts to flow after some time. I hope I can keep up some sort of routine after Nano, though not with such a high daily wordcount.


  It's Nano Time Again

I'm participating in the National Novel Writing Month again, and therefore I'm a lazy blogger and commenter. My regular readers may have guessed already. :-)

After last year's unexpected success I've grown more ambitious; I now want to win Nano even with Real Life (TM) getting in the way. Wish me luck.

You can follow my progress on the sidebar.

Autumn Forest

The photo shows part of the Hainich National Park in Thuringia, seen from the observation tower. The grey line in the right lower corner is the tree top walk we did back in 2011.


  A Belligerent Knight and a Faithful Wife - The History of Castle Weidelsburg

It's time for another castle, so I've been digging in my photo archives to find something interesting. My father and I visited the still impressive ruins of Castle Weidelsburg in 2008. The site was undergoing renovation and the western palas (great hall) scaffolded in, but I got enough pretty pics nevertheless. I know most of you like photos of castles and stories about feuds.

Weidelsburg, the eastern keep

The Weidelsburg is situated on a a 492 metres high basaltic conical hill at the borders between northern Hessia, Thuringia, the earldom of Waldeck, and the enclave of the archbishopric Mainz around Naumburg (1). It is the largest castle in northern Hessia and its possession was often contested.

As usual, its beginnings are shrouded in the mists of missing documents. Archaeological traces point at a fortification on the hill dating back to the 7th or 8th century. The castrum Alstat mentioned in a 12th century chronicle may be indentical with the predecessor of the present castle (2) but definite proof is still lacking.

Weidelsburg, view through the Naumburg Gate into the outer bailey

The history of the Weidelsburg is easier to trace when it came into possession of the archbishopric of Mainz in 1266 (3). The archbishop of Mainz and the landgrave of Hessia (in this case, Heinrich I) were at cahoots most of the time. In one of their feuds, the Weidelsburg was destroyed during the Star Wars in 1275.

Landgrave Hermann II (4) and Count Heinrich IV of Waldeck rebuilt the castle in 1380, but ran into problems with Mainz again, which claimed the right to the castle. It took several years to sort out the legal mess. The castle fell to the archbishop who ordered his vassal, the Lord of Hertinghausen, with the rebuilding. The remains of the Weidelsburg we can see today mostly date from that time.

Outer bailey

The feud between the archbishops of Mainz and the landgraves of Hessia, which had lasted about two hundred years already, went on and the castle was partly destroyed by the landgrave of Hessia again in 1402, together with the Naumburg, the other castle in possession of the archbishop.

(left: The eastern keep)

The next and final step in the feud took place in 1427. Count Heinrich IV of Waldeck (6) and his son Wolrad, vassals of the archbishop of Mainz, had pawned out half of the earldom to Ludwig Landgrave of Hessia in 1424 for the sum of 22,000 gulden. But then Heinrich went back on the deal, arguing that he already had given his word to the archbishop of Mainz to whom he then pawned out half of his earldom for 18,000 gulden (the landgrave would have been the better deal). Heinrich and Wolrad opened their castles to the archbishops of Mainz and Cologne, Konrad of Dhaun and Dietrich of Moers - the latter being interested in getting a foothold in the borderlands because of his interests in the bishopric of Paderborn and the Castle Krukenburg.

Landgrave Ludwig had already paid the sum and accepted the oath of fealty from vassals, burghers and farmers of the county. Of course, he was furious. Archbishop Konrad of Mainz offered Ludwig to repay the sum Ludwig had given to Heinrich and Wolrad of Waldeck. But Ludwig wanted nothing of that; it must have been more important for him to hold the power in the lands of Waldeck, so the war continued. How the young man (born 1402) got the nickname 'the Peaceful' is beyond me (7). Well, Ludwig won two battles during the summer 1427, took some 300 knights of the archbishop of Mainz captive - albeit Konrad himself escaped the Battle of Fulda - and with that card up his sleeve returned to the negotiation table.

At the Peace of Frankfurt (December 1427) Mainz paid 44,000 gulden reparation and had to hold all its Hessian possessions as fief from the landgrave. But Ludwig gave the pawn of Waldeck to Mainz and accepted a refund. The Weidelsburg must have remained a fief of the archbishop of Mainz, because it was Konrad who appointed Reinhard of Dalwigk as reeve in 1437. It turned out he let the cat loose among the mice by that decision.

Weidelsburg, inner curtain walls

The Dalwigk were an ancient family that first appears in documents in 1036 as ministeriales of the monastery in Corvey (5). Later, they became vassals of the counts of Waldeck; 'Bernhard and Elgar de Dalewich' were elevated to lords by Count Adolf of Waldeck in 1227. In the 14th century, members of the family also were vassals of the landgraves of Hessia and the archbishops of Mainz.

Naumburg Gate, seen from the bailey

Reinhard of Dalwigk (1400 - 1461) was called 'the Unborn' because he was delivered by cesarean. He married Agnes of Hertingshausen (1412) which may have helped in him getting the position as reeve of the Weidelsburg and probably the fief itself, which had been held by the Hertinghausen family before. The Weidelsburg might have been Agnes' dowry. The Hertinghausen played an important role in the northern Hessian borderlands from about 1250 - 1700.

Reinhard of Dalwigk fortified the castle according to the standard of his time, adding an outer bailey and a zwinger to the south. He also modernised the living quarters where he is said to have 'held court like a prince'.

(right: Interior of the eastern keep with fireplace and windows; plus the modern staircase leading to the roof platform)

Reinhard was rich, ambitious, and loved feuds. He kept burning villages and fighting local nobles to an extent that he was considered breaker of the king's peace. Landgrave Ludwig I of Hessia and the archbishop of Mainz worked together for a change and laid siege to the Weidelsburg in 1443. Reinhard submitted and seems to have gotten away with an admonition but no real loss in power and ressources. He promptly went back to his favourite pastime and burned some more villages, joined by his nephew Friedrich IV of Hertinghausen. This time he got into real trouble when Landgrave Ludwig I of Hessia appeared before the Weidelsburg with an army again in 1448.

Ludwig demanded that Reinhard surrender unconditionally. If the following legend is true, that may have implied that there were no prior negotiations and Reinhard would have risked permanent imprisonment or even capital punishment by undergoing a deditio.

The legend has it that his wife, Agnes née Hertinghausen, went to the Ludwig and pleaded for her husband's life. Ludwig allowed the women to leave the castle, bearing 'what was most dear to them', but the men had to stay and await his further decisions. Not much gained there. But Agnes remembered the legend about King Konrad and the Women of Weinsberg (8). So she said what was most dear to her was her husband, and carried him on her back down from the castle while her ladies-in-waiting followed with the pretty dresses and the bling. Ludwig was angry, but the legend about King Konrad obviously was strong enough to influence his decision and he, too, stood to his word and spared Reinhard's life.

But Reinhard had to undergo the deditio, the formal surrender, and lost the Weidelsburg (thus he likely held the castle itself and not only the position as reeve - the feudal relationship is a bit murky due to lack of sources, like so often). Reinhard and his nephew Friedrich of Hertinghausen were allowed to keep the castle Naumburg where they lived together.

Remains of a semicircled tower, interior

Reinhard of Dalwigk and Friedrich of Hertinghausen didn't learn their lesson. As soon as a good feud showed itself at the horizon, they went to join it with flying banners. Both got into trouble with the family of Elben about the rights to some forests and tithes. The Elben were another noble family with possessions in northern Hessia and related to the Hertinghausen. That did not stop Werner von Elben to join with other nobles as Lords of the Federacy (Bundesherren) against Reinhard and Friedrich. Between 1450-54, the fire spread to involve more nobles on both sides; villages were plunderned and burned and skirmishes fought. During one of those, Friedrich was severly wounded and captured.

The curtain wall of the outer bailey to the north

Landgrave Ludwig and Count Wolrad of Waldeck - both obviously on speaking terms again after the Peace of Frankfurt - in vain tried to mediate between the warring parties several times. It took a number of dead nobles until Ludwig and Wolrad managed to settle the mess in December 1454. Both sides released their prisoners, Werner of Elben paid a guerdon for Friedrich of Hertighausen's wound that left him badly limping, the tithes in question were granted to Reinhard of Dalwigk. Both parties signed a settlement. That peace held.

Rounded corner of the trapezoid eastern keep, looking skyward

Reinhard von Dalwigk died on the Naumburg in 1461, without known heirs.

Since Reinhard had surrendered the Weidelsburg to Ludwig, the landgrave established a Hessian reeve in the castle, though Reinhard had held the castle from Mainz (maybe it was an Afterlehen, a fief Mainz held from the landgrave and then enfeoffed to Reinhard). There was a quarrel between the archbishop of Mainz and Landgrave Ludwig II in 1463, after which the Weidelsburg was officially given to the landgrave. It continued to be administered by Hessian reeves.

But the castle was considerend technologically outdated in the 16th century, and no money was invested in its upkeep. A severe fire in 1591 left the Weidelsburg a ruin.

The western palas building, partly scaffolded

In 1891, a platform was built on the keep - the tourism to picturesque ruins had become popular. Excavations were done in the 1930ies, and restoration work from 1979-87 and again 2008-11. A good reason to go back. :-) Since both the keep and the palas or great hall are in pretty good condition, together with remains of gates and curtain walls, the castle makes for an impressive ruin. I'll get to the architecture in another post.

The inner curtain wall with integrated great hall, seen from the outside
1) This is not Naumburg at the Saale with its famous cathedral, but a town with the same name in northern Hessia. The castle of the same name is now defunct.
2) Most of the information I got from the official website of the castle, cross-checking facts where I could.
3) The archbishop bought the castle, but I could not find out from whom. Likely either the landgrave of Hessia or the count of Waldeck.
4) Heinrich IV (1340 - 1397) was married to Mathilde of Braunschweig-Lüneburg. One of their daughters, Irmgard, would marry into the House of Everstein that held possessions in Hessia as well as at the Weser.
5) Dear Wikipedia, you cannot have a family be ministeriales and freeborn nobles in the same article. There was a difference. ;-) I think it's more likely they were ministeriales since it was that group of nobles the monasteries preferably employed. They are not connected with a hereditary castle at first, either.
6) He led the men who murdered Duke Friedrich of Braunschweig-Lüneburg in 1400. Another of the assassins was Friedrich III of Hertinghausen.
7) After the feud with Mainz, Ludwig got involved in a war with the grandsons of Otto the Quarrelsome during which he - unsuccessfully - laid siege to Castle Salzderhelden (1447).
8) During a feud with Duke Welf of Bavaria in 1140, Konrad III had allowed the women to leave the besieged castle of Weinsberg in Swabia under the condition that they may bring along what they could carry, and they came down bearing their husbands. Albeit some of the king's advisors argued against it, Konrad decided that he had given his word and would stick to it.


  A Boat Tour on the Wakenitz River

I had a rather unwelcome visit by a nasty cold and didn't feel up to do much research. So here's just a little river tour on the Wakenitz from its outflow of Lake Ratzeburg northwards to Lübeck. The river is only 15 km long before it confluences into the Trave, but it is very lovely.

Ominous clouds gathering over Lake Ratzeburg

I first took a ship from Ratzeburg across the length of the lake (yeah, I got pics of that, too) to a hamlet called Rothenhusen where I changed to a river boat. The clouds didn't look nice and I was afraid I'd not get many photos because of the rain.

Outflow of the Wakenitz from Lake Ratzeburg

And right when I changed ship, the downpour began. Well, the river boat has a nice enough covered deck where they serve drinks and food, but photographing through windows is always tricky. The boat, having arrived from Lübeck, took a turnaround on the lake because the river is too narrow, and behold, when we came back under the trees framing the Wakenitz, the rain stopped and the sun peered out between the clouds.

Alder trees in the sunshine

I spent the next hours between taking photos from the bow and stern platforms to catch the different light from the sun either behind or in front, and having some coffee and ice cream in between. The whole tour turned out to be more fun than the clouds had predicted and the vistas were lovely. There were but few passengers who didn't get in the way of the photos.

Willows framing the river to the right

The name Wakenitz (Wochnica) is of Slavic origin and means Perch River. Obviously, the river has always been rich in fish. Today it is also know as the Amazonas of the North though that's a bit of an exaggeration.

Lovely details of the riparian forest

The Wakenitz had been the border between West-Germany and the GDR and so the landscape remained untouched for forty years. Luckily, it was decided to keep it that way. Part of the Wakenitz lowland is a Proteced Nature Area. Traffic on the river is very restricted except for canoes, rowing boats and ships with electric motors. There's a bicycle lane along the river and a bridge for hikers crossing it, but nothing more until we get closer to the town of Lübeck.

More trees and jungle

That way, the rare riparian forest still thrives. Alder, willow, silverleaf poplar, ash and elm are typical treees that form a veritable jungle in some parts. Among the wildlife are several endangered species that have found a sanctuary here, like fire-bellied toad, spadefoot toad, crested newt, corn crake, kingfisher, black woodpecker or barred warbler, to name just a few. You get the usual collection of carp, eel, perch and northern pike, but also a population of wels catfish.

Riparian forest along the 'Long Misery'

The first part of the river is known as the 'Long Misery' due to the fact that the river is so narrow that sailing ships cannot easily beat to windward; and in former times transport barges could not be towed because of the waterlogged shores. But a modern river boat has no problems (the passenger ferries are some of the few exceptions allowed to use engines).

A different view of the 'Long Misery'

Originally, the Wakenitz confluenced into the Trave north of the Old Town of Lübeck which is situated on a oblong ridge of dryer ground in what originally was a swampy area. The swamps have been drained over time and the rivers connected by canals to surround the entire old town. They became part of the denfense system which included a town wall on the island and later, in the 17th century, a series of bastions, particularly to the Trave side in the west.

The river widens

The first change in the course of the Wakenitz was done already in the 13th century when it was dammed to feed the mills and breweries to the south of the town, creating the Mühlenteich and Krähenteich (Mill Pond and Crow Pond). The town bought the entire river Wakenitz with its fishing rights and other rights of use from Duke Albrecht I of Saxony in 1291.

The widest part of the river prior to Lübeck

To avoid the dangerous route of the Sound, Kattegatt and Skagerrak, a canal was built to connect Lübeck (and the Baltic Sea access via the Trave) and the Elbe which confluences into the North Sea; the Stecknitz Canal, finished 1398. It also allowed the transport of salt from Lüneburg to Lübeck by water via Ilmenau and Elbe.

Upper deck of the ferry

Five hundred years later, a new canal for larger ships was built: the Elbe-Lübeck-Canal (1896). That one cut off the Wakenitz from the waters around Lübeck by the Falkendamm (Falcon Embankment) at the north end of the old town. The Wakenitz now drains into the Crow and Mill ponds by a little canal called Düker; its end forms a lake.

The Wakenitz in Lübeck

The embankment was necessary to regulate the water levels of Wakenitz and Trave. While the Baltic Sea is not tidal, storms can still cause the Trave to flood the lower parts of the town and heavy rains can lead to a rise of the Wakenitz all the way down to Ratzeburg. Already the Mediaeval system of canals helped with that, but nowadays more sophisticated means are needed.

Villas with pavillions at the Wakenitz in Lübeck

The suburbs along the Wakenitz - St. Jürgen (wih the university) and St.Gertrud - have some of the more expensive real estate, esp. if you want access to the river. St. Gertrud, grown around a pestilence churchyard from 1350, was the site of the 'summer houses' of rich Lübeck merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Just a pretty view

I did a tour of the Lübeck canals in spring, so there'll be more information about the harbours and Medieaval defenses of the town at some point.

The Wakenitz tour is operated by Wakenitz Schiffahrt Quandt.

  Sub-Marinean Magic - The Ozeaneum in Stralsund, Part 1

The Oceanographic Museum is part of the German Maritime Museum in Stralsund and specialises on the Baltic and North Sea. The underwater world of both seas is presented in a series of themed tanks, together with additional information about themes like biodiversity, climate or the hydrologic cycle. I was surprised that some photos turned out nice, considering the darkish blue or green light and the moving fish. So here is a glimpse into an alien world.

Tank 'Harbour Bassin Stralsund', European perch, common roach and rudd

The first tank presents the hidden life of the harbour in Stralsund. The salinity is 0.8% and the temperature 12°C. With 126,000 litres, the tank is one of the larger examples. With fishlife like that, no wonder there were fishermen casting their rods and lines at the quay.

Tank 'Greifswalder Bodden', a curious pike-perch

The Bodden is a form of lagoon or bay found in several places along the Baltic Sea coast, usually between the mainland and islands. The water depth is often less than 5 metres and sandbanks can prove dangerous for ships. Other fish living in the brackish water of the Bodden are plaice and flounder who camouflage by imitating the sand of the ground.

Tank 'River Outfall', various trout and char

The simulated river outfall is colder (9°C) and with lower salinity. Most of the fishes swimming around are members of the salmonid family (and very yummy when served fried or boiled). To give you an impression of the technology involved to create such tanks; the windowpane (7 x 2.3 metres) alone weighs 1.6 tons; some of the other panes are even heavier.

Tank 'River Outfall', Russian sturgeon

This guy, a Russian sturgeon or Waxdick, had been living in the other Marine Museum in Stralsund until his move to the Oceaongraphic Museum in 2008. He is more than 40 years old; caught by a fisherman back in 1968, and something like the mascot of the museum.

Tank 'Marine Eelgrass Meadow', broadnosed pipefish

Pipefish play hide and seek by looking pretty much like seagrass. Can you spot them? Pipefish can cope with different conditions from the sea around northern Norway to the Mediterranean and live anywhere with enough seagrass to hide in.

Tank 'Stockholm Archipelago', lumpsucker

This funny looking guy is a lumpfish, a mostly ground-living fish that attaches itself to surfaces - usually stones, but the glass of the tank pane works as well - by a suction disc in its pelvis. The German name means sea-hare (Seehase). Other inhabitants of that habitat are whitefish and eelpout.

Tank 'Kattegat Reef', haddock and pollock, trying to escape my camera

The Kattegat, together with the Skagerrak, both between Sweden and Jutland / Denmark, are the connection between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea. The salinity of the water slightly higher than the Baltic Sea so that fish of both seas live there. The area is difficult to navigate due to a number of stone reefs as th one represented in the tank.

Coldwater coral reef in the Baltic Sea

We think of corals as creatures thriving in warm water where they build impressive reefs like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. But there are species who can live well in colder water provided it is very clean. They grow more slowly, but they are very pretty, too. These orange ones are typical for the Baltic Sea.

Moon jellyfish

Those fragile beauties reflect the blue light of the tank illumination. Jellyfish are difficult to keep under tank conditions, but if those are right, they live longer than outside. When we were on holiday at the Baltic Sea coast as kids, we used to gather dead jellyfish and plop the cold, glibbery mess on the beer belly of that nasty old guy who kept complaining about kids having fun. Hehe.

Baltic Sea crab

Crabs are one of the largest subspecies group of the crustaceans, and it's pretty hopeless to try and figure out who exactly the cutie above is. Possibly a variant of the spider crabs. They attach algae to their exoskeleton for camouflage.

The next part about the North Sea is below.

  Sub-Marinean Monsters - The Ozeaneum in Stralsund, Part 2

The tour of the Ozeaneum - follow the little footprints on the floor - will now take us to the North Sea in this second post about the tank displays of the Oceanographic Museum in Stralsund.

Some fish like herring or haddock can be found in both seas, but others have developed special subspecies who can deal with the higher salinity of 3,5%.

Compass jellyfish

This jellyfish is a bit more alien looking. Compass jellyfish also have toxic nematocysts at the end of their tentacles whose discharge can lead to skin irritation. The species can be found in the deeper water off the British and Dutch coasts, but storms sometimes bring them up and onto the shore.

Great Spider Crab

Great spider crabs (Hyas araneus) are indigenous to the North Sea and Atlantic. They live in deeper water (down to at least 50 metres). They are hunters who hide under stones or other places and who, like their Baltic Sea relatives, use algae to cover their shields, until something edible, like a starfish, comes along.

Tank 'Tidal Bassin', weever

This guy may look harmless if a bit grumpy, but it's actually one of the nastier critters hiding in the tidal sands. The weever has a sting on its back that ejects poison into the foot of any hapeless tourist who happens to step on it. The pain and discomfort may be worse than a vasp sting and can lead to an allergic shock.

Coral reef in the Channel, with boar fish

Another of those beautiful coral reefs, this time from the North Sea. The violet ones are called Anthothelia, a deep sea coral that can deal well with cold, dark water. Those red darlings swimming among the corals are boar fish, almost too colourful for the environment - it's what you would expect in the Pacific. But boar fish turn black when they swim into deeper water.

A wreck with new coral and sea urchin colonies

I liked this one just because it looks so pretty. A simulated wreck starting to attract inhabitants of all sorts.

Tank 'Helgoland', catsharks

Those two guys were hanging out in the tunnel-shaped Helgoland tank. The dark colour is due to the dim light; catsharks (also called dogfish) are a bit lighter of colour, with dark spots. But I like the blue version. :-)

Tank 'Scottish Underwater Cave', with a John Dory

This one is not a nice fish to meet if you're a herring. It will suck you right in, literally. John Dorys can evert their mouth very wide and snatch an entire herring. Slurrp. But humans are safe.

Tank 'Open Atlantic', a shoaling of mackerels, with some cod

The last tank is the largest. The 'Open Atlantic' contains 2.6 million litres of water. Too bad I could not find out what the glass plane of that one weighs - it has a size of 50 square metres and is 30 cm thick. It also was the most difficult to photograph because the fish kept either moving too fast, or hiding in the background of the big bassin.

Tank 'Open Atlantic', stingray

Now try to escape the stingray and resurface back in the museum after the trip through the Baltic and North Sea. You can visit a guy from the other hemisphere on the museum roof: one of the ten Humboldt penguins living there (the other ones were hiding in their stone caves).

A curious Humboldt penguin

I hope you liked the little tour through an unknown and alien world. A hot tea or coffee may be in order now.

I could have spent more time in the museum if my itinerary had allowed it, waiting for the perfect shot of some cool fishes I did not show here.

  More Mediaeval Brick Buildings

I'm back from my second Hansa League tour, with some 2,000 photos. The weather was a bit on the dreary side some days, but at least the rain poured down mostly during the night or when I could stay under cover.

Ratzeburg Cathedral, seen from the lake

First we get a very beautiful cathedral in Ratzeburg, a small town near Lübeck. The cathedral was founded by Heinrich the Lion and survives as Romanesque building, but it is constructed of bricks like the great Gothic cathedrals in northern Germany. In an area lacking stone quarries but rich in loam, bricks were the material more easily obtained.

Ratzeburg Cathedral, interior with view to the choir

I came a bit early and there was still Sunday service going on, with an additional organ concert. It was totally worth the wait until I could walk around with my camera.

St. Nicolai Church in Lüneburg, interior

We can compare the sturdy Romanesque columns with the slender pillars of a Gothic church with its soaring architecture that reaches towards Heaven. The example shown is my favourite of the churches in Lüneburg, St. Nicolai.

The cathedral in Schwerin; flying buttresses

Another typical feature of Gothic churches are the flying buttresses that support the high naves. The use of bricks makes them look less fragile and elegant than the ones built of sandstone; they give the brick architecture a more solid appearance even when it tries to imitate the flamboyant style.

Lübeck, Hospital of the Holy Spirit

The Hospital of the Holy Spirit in Lübeck had been scaffolded in when I went there in spring, but now the scaffolding has come off and the facade shines in new splendour. The hospital was commissioned by rich merchants in the 1260ies and provided housing for the poor until 1970. The foundation of the hospital still cares for old people.

Stralsund, the town hall

Brick architecture developed into an art form, with glazed bricks in black and white and sometimes bricks in other forms than the common rectangular ones, used as decorative elements. The town hall in Stralsund is a fine example.

Lüneburg, gabled houses

Rich citizens wanted to show their money by building representative houses, the so-called Dielenhäuser which held the office, storage space, and the living quarters in the back. Decorated gables became a common feature, and in the northern Hansa towns they are often created of bricks.

Stralsund, remains of the town walls

The towns of the Hansa League all had town walls in the Middle Ages, but often those were dismantled later to make room for more houses. Some, like Stralsund, retain at least parts of those fortifications.

Schwerin, the neo-Romanesque palace

The palace in Schwerin is not Mediaeval, but neo-Romanesque. But it is so over top with its turrets and oriels and gilded decorations that it's fun. *grin* Some rooms are a museum, the rest is taken up by the county government of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

Don't miss the second photo post below.

Miscellaneous musings of an aspiring Historical Fiction author. Illustrated essays on Roman, Dark Age and Mediaeval history, Mediaeval literature, and Geology. Some poetry translations and writing stuff. And lots of photos of old castles, cathedrals, Roman remains, and beautiful landscapes from Germany, the UK, Scandinavia, and the Baltic States.

All texts (except comments by guests) and photos (if no other copyright is noted) on this blog are copyright of Gabriele Campbell.

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Location: Germany

I'm a writer of Historical Fiction living in Germany. I got a MA in Literature, Scandinavian Studies, Linguistics and History, I'm interested in Archaeology and everything Roman and Mediaeval, an avid reader, opera enthusiast, traveller with a liking for foreign languages and odd rocks, and photographer.