Mainberg Castle near Schweinfurt

This guest post is written by Lance M. Goolsby, who originates from Seattle, Washington. However, he spent 15 years in the U.S. Army, serving in the city of Schweinfurt, Germany for four of them. He says he is married to the most wonderful woman, Antje (Pronounced: Auntie-A), a local Schweinfurter. After leaving the army, he decided to settle down in Schweinfurt and place his roots in this beautiful small city. This is what he has to share with us.

Mainberg Castle

Mainberg Castle

A couple days ago, I was searching the internet to get some source photos for a renovation project I am conducting and came across Maria’s blog.

I had heard of a local castle, but had never gone. Many times the unit would hold a party in the castle, but somehow I was either deployed to some foreign country, or on duty. So I was always otherwise occupied.

A few months ago I was invited to a birthday party being held in the castle, and I thought it would be my chance to see it first hand. Somehow I met the manager, and we started talking. He was in the works of finalizing the plans for the renovations of the castle with the owner. Hours passed with him telling me stories of the history of the building, from its major involvement in the German Peasants war of the 1500s, to the unsavory occupation of the castle during the second world war by generals Hermann Goering, and Heinrich Himmler.

One thing led to another, and I was hired as the groundskeeper of the castle. My dream job. Bringing the long unattended gardens back to their former glory, which had not been seen by visitors since the renovations of the castle in 1924.

The castle name is Schloss Mainberg, located around 3 kilometers, or about 2 miles outside Schweinfurt.

The tower of the castle was the first thing built, in around the year 980 to 1005. In the late 1300s and early 1400s, the local duke built the original castle. The castle was mostly destroyed in the Peasants War in the 1520s. Twenty years later, the castle that stands now, was built. The only thing original to the castle prior is the tower, which only lost around 30 feet from its top in the war.

After the Second World War, the entire contents of the castle were either carted off under orders of General Goering, or looted by the American soldiers or the local towns people. All statues with the exception of one, were used by various soldiers as target practice or targeted by vandals, and all heads are missing. Later the castle was shortly used as a factory for a hair care products company. After that, it passed through a few hands, but never was renovated or repaired.

In the last 60 years, the castle has slowly fallen into ruin. Cracks are allowing water to seep into the building, staining and ruining many murals painted on the walls and ceilings.  Vines, crawling up the walls, are undermining the concrete and pieces are falling to the ground. Eventually without the proper care, the castle would fall to the ground.

My job will be to bring the grounds to the quality they were in after the 1822 renovations. In one author’s writings, he described the gardens as an almost heavenly walk. Looking right, the view over the local Bavarian valley afforded him the possibility to see for miles on end. Three fountains adorned with mythological creatures gave the area an ethereal sound and the flowers planted gave the garden a scent that he couldn’t forget for several years before he wrote the book.

Further investigation into the grounds has recently produced a second garden from the same era, which it seems no visitors has ever seen. It’s a garden for the woman of the house at the time to retreat to with one of her favorite books, to relax and read. We now refer to this one as the secret garden. It was built in the rear of the castle, which is on the uphill side. It was made up of one main terrace, and three others, adorned with flowers, and rock walls. They had in effect carved 4 level areas out of the castle, adorned them with flowers,  benches, and tables, then fenced it off from the main castle garden for privacy. It must have been a vision in itself and to me was much more beautiful than the main garden.

I thought for the readers of Maria’s blog it would be cool to see some recent photos of the same castle, of which she shared photos taken by Russell Satterthwait in the 60s and to compare how the castle has slowly fallen into almost ruin.

With luck, in the next two years, the castle will be back to its regal status. I also invite all readers to come by and take a tour with me when it is completed. You will not be disappointed. We will be able to have some coffee in its café, or if you like, spend the night in the castle hotel.

Mainberg Castle is one of the regions most important and beautiful castles. Soon it will be open to the public again.

Thanks for reading my long winded article.

— Lance Goolsby

grounds keeper at Mainberg Castle

Photobucket by Lance Goolsby: http://s60.photobucket.com/user/mordfilm/slideshow/Schloss%20Mainberg

YouTube by Matthias Breitenbach: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIUlhAwT9NM

Schweinfurt Garrison Dining Out at Castle Mainberg 2009 (Photo courtesy of Schweinfurt PAO) on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/schweinfurtpao/13404333633/

Three Days in Riquewihr, Alsace

This is a little show-and-tell of roadsides,  restaurants, and Riquewihr impressions from our three-day visit.

There are quite a few tourists with a dog in tow. For some older dogs, it might be a bit hard to walk up and downhill on the cobble stones. This shop owner’s cat had a keg to hop on every time one of the friskier dogs came near.

cat on keg

Most amazing are the beautifully decorated shops and windows in these old and well preserved houses.

Grocer's shop window, Riquewihr

This was taken on Sunday evening with the weekend making it a busier place.

Riquewihr

We had looked online at rental places outside the medieval part of town as well, and so we took a little stroll to see where some of the other lodgings are located.

View onto Riquewihr

We ended up with a very nice studio apartment on main street, rue du Général-de-Gaulle. More about that in a different post.

Longshore Fishing at the Baltic Sea

It was interesting to see the longshore men bring in their catch one morning. It came in many different colored plastic containers, and together with the ice, looked quite heavy when getting hauled up and stacked. I took quite a few photos, and as time went on, more and more onlookers gathered around.long shore fishing

One morning, they only came in to spread out their nets for mending.

mending fishing nets

fishing net

The port in Maasholm was the most fascinating place any time of day. The sky constantly changed its color, some tourists stopped at the ice cream parlor, the seagulls were ever-present (but not annoying), and there was a constant breeze.

Maasholm Port

The evenings were especially lovely. There are beautiful walkways around most of the peninsula. Sometimes we did not walk that much; we only carried a bottle of red wine to the nearest bench, gazed out onto the water, while others passed by.

Walking around the Schlei Estuary

Walkway around the Schlei Estuary

A Salute to the Schweinfurt Military – Multimedia Archives

Team Schweinfurt presents The History of the Army in Schweinfurt in a slide show.

To keep its history alive, Team Schweinfurt set up this online photograph exhibition, “Salute to Schweinfurt: 1945-2014,” a tribute spanning almost 70 years of the U.S. Army in Schweinfurt. The project is meant to educate future generations and demonstrate the army’s service in Schweinfurt.

Deadline for submitting photos ends today (no April Fools’ joke either), but I’m sure they’d welcome more photo contributions.

Schweinfurt Military Housing – Askren Manor

Much has been said and written about the closing of Ledward and Conn Barracks in Schweinfurt, one of the largest U.S. American bases in Germany, which is to be completely carried out by 30 September 2014. This post is about Askren Manor, the housing which is supposed to get completely torn down.

Askren Manor is the largest on-post housing area  with 674 stairwell apartments as well as 26 duplexes, all in within walking distance to Ledward Barracks. Other facilities include  the elementary school, commissary, school age services, and the child development center.

We had spent another weekend in Schweinfurt and on our way home again, we were heading towards Niederwerrner Straße, where we stopped for a photo on the side gate. The mesh wire fence has become almost obsolete by now.

mesh wire fence

We are approaching the corner of Niederwerrner Strasse and John-F.-Kennedy-Ring.

Coming from Ledward on  Niederwerrner Strasse

Askren Manors, Schweinfurt

Just passing by some of the buildings on the John-F.-Kennedy-Ring. Too bad we had the Grüne Welle (synchronized traffic lights) and could not slow down, which made some photos a bit blurry.

Askren Manors

 

Askren Manors

The gate to Askren Manors

Askren Manors

The latest I heard was to turn Askren Manor into a completely new housing development and Ledward Barracks becoming a sister college (i-Campus) to FHWS Würzburg.

More about the i-Campus: http://www.mainpost.de/regional/schweinfurt/Auf-dem-Weg-zum-i-Campus;art742,8036003 in German.

Quoted from the article: Im Herbst sollen die ersten Studenten für den FHWS i-Campus der Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften (FHWS) nach Schweinfurt kommen….”

(Starting with the fall semester 2014, the first 100 students are expected to enroll at the i-Campus University of Applied Sciences in Schweinfurt.)