Top 5 Things to See in Kassel, Germany

  1. Orangerie

Built in the early 1700s, the Orangerie of Kassel sits in Karlsue park. The beautiful baroque building functions as an astronomy and physical cabinet and features as astronomical garden. It took on its current role after being partially damaged and rebuilt during the turmoil of World War II.

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Lowenburg Castle, 2013. c. Leah Putz

  1. Lowenburg Castle

If you want to see what a quintessential Medieval knight’s castle looks like, head over to Lowenburg Castle. Though it’s construction was in the 18th century, it was built following the style of the Middle Ages on the exterior and has a baroque interior. There were lion statues decorating the castle- an ode to it’s name which stands for ‘lion castle.’ Today it stands as a museum, allowing visitors a glimpse into 18th century life in Germany.

Lions in Lowenburg Castle feat. me, 2013. c. Leah Putz

 

  1. Bruder Grimm-Museum

Fairy tales lovers must check out the Burder-Grimm Museum in Kassel. This is a powerhouse for all things related to the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and the fairy tales they collected and published in 1812. The exhibit here houses art installations, original copies of the fairy tales, hands-on activities, and more!

 

Collection of photos in Bergpark Wilhelmshohe, 2013. c. Leah Putz

  1. Schloss Wilhelmshohe

Schloss Wilhelmshohe, which today operates as a museum and art gallery, is an immaculate example of Neoclassical architecture. It’s location on a large and beautiful park lands to its striking appearance. My journey throughout the ‘Bergpark Wilhelmshohe’ was one my favorite parts of being in Germany! This park is one of the most beautiful parks I’ve ever seen- if not the most beautiful!

Herkules Monument, 2013. c. Leah Putz

  1. Herkules Monument

Kassel’s very own UNESCO World Heritage site! A copper statue of Greek God Herakles (German Herkules) stand on top of a pyramid, which is on top of an octagon, which is on top of a large hill overlooking all of Kassel! The view from here is astonishing, and well worth the long climb up!

View of Kassel from the Herkules Monument, 2013. c. Leah Putz

Nottingham, England

It’s easy to imagine how Nottingham may have looked in the middle ages. The narrow, winding streets and bustling center of the city surrounding the castle follow much the same design as they were hundreds of years ago., when Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham were in their prime. But I’ll get to them later.

Nottingham Castle entrance, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Nottingham Castle gardens, 2014. c. Leah Putz

In the center of Nottingham, perched on a hill, sits Nottingham Castle. Since its construction in 1067, the castle has served an important role in English history, especially in the middle ages when it was a royal fortress and residence. It was famously occupied by Prince John supporters like the Sheriff of Nottingham while his brother King Richard was fighting in the crusades. In fact, Robin and the Sheriff had their final showdown at the castle in the legend of Robin Hood. Today, the castle functions as a museum and art gallery, specializing in relics from Nottingham’s history.

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Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem facade, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Neighboring Nottingham castle is one of the oldest inns in England- Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem! This quaint, adorable inn and pub was established in 1189 according to the words on the facade of the building. The small, low-ceilinged interior definitely gives the impression of an aged space, so it’s not hard to believe the claim is true and the inn is in fact almost 1000 years old. Built into the caves beneath Nottingham Castle, the inn has a rich history, having been a common stop for pilgrims on their way to Jerusalem (hence the name). The inn’s pub offers delicious meal options in the way of classic English dishes such as beef and ale pie, fish and chips, and sausage and mash.

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Traditional English meal in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, 2014. c. Leah Putz

If you want to learn all about Robin Hood, his gang of Merry Men, and their escapades, make your way to the courtyard area outside the castle walls. Here you’ll find a life-sized statue of Robin himself! Behind the statue are a few copper plaques implanted in the castle wall. Each plaque depicts a scene from the legend of Robin Hood. There is also a city map in this area, highlighting all of the locations that feature in the legend, such as the cathedral where Robin and Marian were married, and Sherwood Forest.

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Robin Hood relief sculpture, 2014. c. Leah Putz

There’s much more to see in Nottingham that I wasn’t able to get to either of the times I visited- such as a tour of the caves beneath the castle, Sherwood Forest, and Old Market Square. But, I love this small city, so I’ll be certain to return and explore some more, and I highly recommend you take a trip there and explore as well!

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Robin Hood and I, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Blarney Castle

I’ve seen quite a few castles in my time in many different countries, but none are quite so charming as Blarney Castle in Southern Ireland. There’s a reason it’s one of the most famous castles in all of Ireland- a title which really means something in a country where there are literally hundreds of castles through the cities and countryside.

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Blarney Castle, 2015. c. Leah Putz

The current castle as it stands dates all the way back to 1446, but it’s believed that there were fortifications on site as early as the 1100s. Since its construction, Blarney Castle has stood strong and nearly intact through the test of time. There’s something really magical about being inside or stranding upon a structure that has survived through so many years.

Blarney Castle Tower, 2015. c. Leah Putz

View of the Irish countryside from atop Blarney Castle, 2015. c. Leah Putz

The Blarney Castle grounds are enormous. Gardens cover every inch of the area, including the poison garden which features poisonous plants in large cages. If you’re planning a visit, I would suggest setting aside a whole day because it will take that long to explore the beauty of the various gardens as well as the castle itself. There are also many other historical features on the Blarney Castle grounds, like the noble horse graveyard and the Blarney House, a mansion which was built in the 18th century.

Gravestone of Tullig the horse, 2015. c. Leah Putz

Seven Sisters and other photos from the Blarney Castle gardens, 2015. c. Leah Putz

One of the most critical moments in the castle’s history is the placement of the Blarney Stone into the tower in 1446. People travel far and wide to kiss and stone and – according to legend –  receive ‘the gift of Blarney’ or the ‘gift of gab’. The origin of this magical stone is shrouded in mystery, making it all the more appealing to visit. One of the theories as to its origins tells of Blarney lord Cormac McCarthy, who kissed the stone that had been blessed by the Irish goddess Cliodhna and was thus able to convince Queen Elizabeth I not to deprive him of his lands. While kissing the stone yourself, try not to think about the fact that its been kissed by millions before you, and just enjoy the adrenaline rush of hanging upside down over a clear drop from the top of the tower of the castle to reach it!

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Kissing the Blarney Stone, 2015. c. Leah Putz

Schloss Heidelberg

Nestled into the hills of Western Germany sits the medieval town of Heidelberg. The town is home to Germany’s oldest university, Heidelberg University, which was founded in 1386, and is a popular tourist destination as well. Tourist flock to the Altstadt (aka the Old town) to admire the baroque architecture, wander through the cobble-stoned streets, and see the imposing Heidelberg Castle.

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Me delighting in what I called a ‘Hobbit door’ in the Altstadt, 2013. c. Leah Putz

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View of Schloss Heidlelberg from the Altstadt, 2013. c. Leah Putz

For me, the castle was the main attraction. Heidelberg Castle is situation high on a bluff, overlooking the town, and has stood there since the 1200s. Throughout the hundreds of years it has existed, it’s been damaged and rebuilt many times by fire, weather, and war, but has ultimately stood the test of time.

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Powder Tower, destroyed in 1689 by the French, 2013. c. Leah Putz

The castle ruins are actually comprised of two different castles, the latter being an expansion built nearly a hundred years after the construction of the first castle. The joint castles were turned into a proper fortress in 1401, when King Ruprecht became king of Germany.

The view of Heidelberg Altstadt from the castle, 2013. c. Leah Putz

Due to the length of time the castle has stood and how often sections had to be rebuilt, there are varying forms of architecture that meld together beautiful. The castle maintains a cohesive look due to the various sections are all built using the same color stone, which gives it a unique red-toned look. Germany’s history is also displayed in the castle, as some of the main buildings in the interior have countless statues depicting many of Germany’s past kings and rulers.

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Wall of Schloss Heidelberg and statues of kings, 2013. c. Leah Putz

To this day, I think Heidelberg Castle is the most majestic structure I’ve had the pleasure of exploring. There is an overwhelming sense of beauty and history in this ancient structure, and if you find yourself in West Germany, I highly recommend making a stop in the captivating city of Heidelberg.

My Cardiff Top 5

Cardiff, the capital of Wales, was a only a small town until the 1800s, though its origins date back to Neolithic times. In the 19th century, the Cardiff port began to bustle and the city grew until it became the largest in Wales. Today, it’s known for it’s bustling metropolitan area, and it’s capacity to preserve Welsh culture. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Cardiff, and have compiled a list of my top five places to go if you find yourself in this beautiful Welsh capital.

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Cardiff Central Square, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay the area surrounding the water fed by the two rivers in Cardiff. The area around the bay is beautiful, with many shops and restaurants nearby, and is a focal point for many events in Cardiff.

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Cardiff Bay, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

Cardiff Story Museum

The best way to get to know a city is to explore its history, especially a city with as long and rich a history as Cardiff. Thankfully, you can visit the Cardiff Story Museum to learn all about Cardiff through the ages, complete with numerous artifacts and objects to view.

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Wales Millennium Centre, 2014. c. Leah Putz

Wales Millennium Centre

Fans of BBC show Torchwood will recognize the Wales Millennium Centre. Comprised of multiple shops, restaurants, and arts centers, it’s the perfect place to stop and shop in the Cardiff Bay area as it also features the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre.

 

Bute Park

Once a part of the Cardiff Castle grounds, Bute Park is a whopping 130 acres of park and gardens. It was originally landscaped in the 17-1800s and sits near Cardiff Castle and along the River Taff. The park is dotted with sculptures, bridges, and immense natural beauty that is rare to find in the heart of a city.

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Sculpture on the street in Cardiff, 2014. c. Leah Putz

 

Cardiff Castle

If you’re going just about anywhere in the UK your trip isn’t complete without a visit to  a castle, and Cardiff is no exception. The castle, which was built by the Normans in the 11th century, can be found in the city centre, along with a Victorian mansion. It’s not only a main attraction of the city of Cardiff, but of Wales as a country as well.  

6 Reasons a Fairy-Tale Fan Should Visit Germany

As a lover of the Grimm Fairy Tales, my time spent in Germany was wrapped up in imagining I was inside one of their stories. Marburg and Kassel are to this day some of my favorite cities I have visited, and I look forward to going back to Germany one day to explore more of the places I’ve compiled on this list. Without further ado, here I present 6 reasons that a Grimm Fairy Tale fan must travel to Germany!

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Marburg, 2013. c. Leah Putz

 

  1. Neuschwanstein Castle

If Neuschwanstein Castle looks familiar to you it’s not surprising, as Disney used the castle for inspiration when building Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty castle. The castle’s opulence, as well as its high position overlooking the beautiful countryside, make it easy to imagine you’re inside a fairy-tale! If you don’t have a chance to visit Neuschwanstein specifically, it’s okay. West Germany is covered in castles, and any one of them is a magical experience to tour.

  1. Marburg

Nestled in West-Central Germany sits Marburg, the city where the Grimm brothers collected many of their stories. Both Marburg and the brothers left a lasting impression on one another. Jacob and Wilhelm studied at Marburg University, where their appetite for literature and culture was awakened.

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Me in Marburg, 2013. c. Leah Putz

 

  1. Rapunzel’s Tower

Jouney to Trendelburg to stay at Hotel Burg and see Rapunzel’s Tower! Rumor is that Rapunzel was locked away in the very tower that stands connected to Trendelburg Castle today, and you can climb to the top and catch a far-reaching view of the German countryside. The castle doubles as a hotel as well, complete with a restaraunt and spa, making it a complete package of all you could ever want!

 

  1. “Talking Mirror” in Lohr am Main

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Any fairy tale fan would recognize this signature line from ‘Snow White.’ According to legend, the story of ‘Snow White’ stems from the real-life relationship between Maria Sophia Margaretha Catherina von und zu Erthal and her strained relationship with her ‘wicked’ step-mother, Claudia Elizabeth con Reichenstein. Claudia owned an ornate mirror from Lohr, who’s mirror’s have the reputation of always speaking the truth. The mirror worked it’s way into ‘Snow White’ as the magic mirror on the wall. This mirror, known as the “Talking Mirror,” is available to be seen at the Spessart Museum in Lohr am Main.

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Kassel, 2013. c. Leah Putz

 

  1. Kassel

Kassel is the epicenter of all things Grimm. The brothers lived there and worked at the Hessen State Library for many years. Today, there are many reminders in Kassel marking the city as the Grimm hometown, including a Brothers Grimm Monument, guided Grimm and fairy-tale tours, and the Bruder Grimm Museum, which houses an original copy of the Fairy-Tales, which is annotated by Jacob and Wilhelm.
1.Fairy-Tale Road Trip

Rent a car and hop onto the road to follow a 370 mile route running from Hanau, Germany to Bremen, Germany, covering a large chunk of Western Germany. The route is dappled with historic sites from the lives of Jacob and Wilhem Grimm, as well as sites that may have served as inspiration for their collection of Fairy-Tales. If you coast along this path, you’ll be able to see not only the fairytale gems on this list and many more, but the beauty of the German countryside as well!

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Kassel, 2013. c. Leah Putz