Castle Keeping

March 25th, 2012 by Magdalena Tabor
I have a long standing love affair with castles, from the time I was old enough to read Grimm’s Fairy Tales by The Brothers Grimm and lost myself to damsels in distress amidst the beautiful hand colored renderings of the castles and the figures that lived within them.
My parents were/are native Austrians and hail from small villages just north of Vienna. I have often wondered why, coming from such an extraordinarily beautiful country, they would choose to settle here in the U.S. I suppose times were different then, and it was vital to earn a respectable living forsaking  beauty, art and culture. Not to say America doesn’t possess all of these things, but it’s hardly on the same caliber or grand scale as living amongst castles hundreds of years old to stimulate the imagination. Or traveling down cobblestoned winding roads through fairy tale villages to do your daily shopping, eco friendly wicker basket in hand. These are the things we try feebly to recreate at the local Renaissance Faire each year.
However, being born of Austrian parentage, my brother and I were given the rare opportunity to experience this magical existence for real on a trip to Germany and Austria, once when I was nine years old, and again when I was twelve, for a full month each time. My father’s brother lived in the heart of Munich, and it was my aunt and uncle’s good intention to give us the grand tour of a castle, sometimes two, each day for the two weeks we stayed with them. We had hardly recovered from the eight hour flight and I remember saying to my parents, “No more…..I’m sooo tired”, a sentiment my folks fully reciprocated. But let there be no mistake, in retrospect, I am eternally grateful to them, not that I didn’t love it at the time. Remember, I was the fairy tale child if ever there was one. However, to fully appreciate the majesty, you need a break between castle hopping with all of its gaudy grandeur. Of the several we visited, I can only recall three or four, the majority belonging to the Mad King Ludwig. I believe the Nymphenburg castle is the one that bears his horse, which he  had fully stuffed after its death, and which I was able to actually touch when no one was looking. It gave me the creeps upon being told that the mad king had mysteriously drowned,  picturing the murky waters entangled with lily pads about his throat. But I believe it was actually a lake somewhere and not some pond near the castle grounds, so I needn’t have worried.
My favorte castle was one not so ostentatious and was in the Rhein region near another relative’s home. I can’t even tell you the castle’s name but its aura was delightfully brooding. It was a gloomy day as we walked up the steep incline of a medieval road that wound its way to the gray feudal dwelling in the thick of the forest. When we got there, the guide made everyone wear giant brown felt slippers over our shoes making us appear suddenly Hobbitlike. This lightened the mood considerably as we laughed at one another. The purpose of this however, was so that we wouldn’t mar the ancient floors.  I believe this is the castle where the guide, upon learning I was visiting from the States, wanted to present me with a token of remembrance. After rummaging through the drawer of a great, heavily carved oak desk, he produced a black and white postcard bearing a sketch of Christ with his arms spread wide. I still have it. I was so impressed with having been recognized as someone special enough to be given something from a secret chamber in a great gray castle that I felt inclined to keep it all these years.
Besides the many castles of the British Isles on my wish list , there is one castle in Germany I long to see. The fairy tale castle of all time – Burg Eltz, also referred to as Castle Eltz. It’s perched high atop a rocky  crag in the forested mountains overlooking the river Elzbach that hugs alongside it. In fact, the very shape of the castle is owed to its winding river. Gaze upon this magnificent structure is to have entered the pages of Grimms. Incredibly, it’s still owned and lived in by the same family branch after 33 generations. Of the eighty rooms they inhabit, only about eight of them are open for public viewing. What’s in all those other rooms??? demands the child within, the imagination running rampant.
Einstein said, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales”.  It doesn’t mean you’ll become the most brilliant person, it just means you’ll glow with a brilliance that only the imagination can illuminate. Nothing speaks more to the imagination than a castle, and the history associated with each one. And then, there’s the fairy tale….
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2 Responses to “Castle Keeping”

  1. Michael Tabor Says:


  2. music with the fairies Says:

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