CONTRIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
“______ of the ____” nicknames make me laugh. Let me elaborate. Obviously Venice is know for its canals, but other places have them too. You can bet that every town that has at least two canals has been called the “Venice of the _____.” There is a Venice of China (Zhujiajiao), at least eight Venices of the North (Amsterdam, Hamburg and Saint Petersburg to name a few), and Venice of America could refer to Venice, California or Fort Lauderdale.
It doesn’t stop with Venices. There is a Paris of the prairies (Saskatoon, Canada). The Amsterdam of the east is the Czech Republic – not for its canals, but for the similar “coffee”. Pittsburg, California would rather not be compared to the other Pittsburg, but prefers to be known as the New York of the Pacific.
The thing that gets me is that every place is different. Venice doesn’t have the lock-down on canals. Amsterdam is not the only place with a more open view about ahem “coffee.”
So of course the nickname given to Schwerin Castle of “The Neuschwanstein of the north” had me laughing. What is that supposed to mean? Neuschwanstein is a relatively new castle (built in the late 1800s), which Ludwig II had built but only lived in for less than a year. Shortly after his death it was opened to tourists. Schwerin has been a occupied fortress since 973 and has been the home to the dukes of Mecklenburg and today still serves at as the residence of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament. Neuschwanstein sits on a mountain while Schwerin sits on an island in the flattest part of Germany. If Schwerin was supposed to be like Neuschwanstein, but built in a different era, in a totally different set of circumstances and terrain why would the similarity be drawn?
I don’t know the person who gave the moniker, but my guess is that the comparison has to do with the picturesque qualities of both castles. Also, both are easily accessible to visitors, are well maintained, and in my opinion should be on your to-do list in Germany.
We visited this castle as part of a cruise shore excursion from the port city of Warnemünde, but it could be visited on your own as well. Most people who were on the cruise took a 3-hour train ride into Berlin. We had just been there less than a month ago, so we choose this closer destination. Our excursion included a boat ride on Lake Schwerin (Schweriner See), a walking tour of part of Schwerin the town, lunch in a traditional German restaurant and a side trip to Rostock as well.
The castle building is huge, but the tour of the inside doesn’t cover the whole thing. There are two main reasons for this. First of all the castle is undergoing restoration. The rooms you visit on the tour have been completely restored. You aren’t going to show your guests the rooms at your home that are a total mess if you can help it, are you? Also, part of this castle is now being used to house the Mecklenburg state parliament and this part of the castle is not on the tour route.
The parts of the castle that are open for touring are exquisite. Each room has signage in German and English that explains the importance and history of the room and its objects. From ceiling to floor, you will see inlayed wood, beautiful plaster work and finishes suitable for, well, a castle!
The gardens around the castle are definitely worth a stroll. The castle sits on an island, connected to the town by a bridge. From any part of the gardens you can see the lake and the castle. There are also small fountains and statues.
If you are looking for a beautiful castle with a longer history than Neuschwanstein and without the crowds, I think you will like Schwerin Castle.
Tips for Your Trip:
October 15 – April 14: Tuesday – Sunday + German Holidays: 1000-1700 (Closed on Mondays)
April 15 – October 14: Tuesday – Sunday 1000-1800 (Closed on German Holidays and Mondays)
Children (6-18): €4.00
Castle and art gallery:
Children (6-18): €6.00
Visiting the gardens surrounding the castle is free.
Photo passes are available for €3.00
Audio guides are available for €2.00 (English available)
Cash only; no credit cards.
The castle is wheelchair accessible.
Dogs are not allowed.