CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER LIDOWSKI
If you haven’t already started to plan your visit to Burg Lichtenberg to explore its towers and walls, enjoy the fabulous food at the castle restaurant, or make a royal fantasy come true, you will probably be motivated to do so after hearing about the three museums situated within the ruins. My family made an entire day out of our visit to Burg Lichtenberg with the grounds and restaurant taking up the morning, and the museums filling up the afternoon. This site truly doesn’t disappoint.
One of the rebuilt structures within the castle walls houses two museums. The first floor offers the Natural History Gallery, which covers the plant and wildlife found in Rhineland-Palatinate. Visitors can interact with the displays by looking through peepholes to see what an animal’s burrow might look like underground or pressing buttons on a display about the dozens of birds that call the region home to see what their various songs sound like. Now I know which call belongs to that black and white bird that keeps showing up in my backyard.
On the second floor, visitors find the Pfälzer Musikantenland-Museum. The museum explains the tradition and history of Wandermusikanten, itinerant musicians who traveled the Western Palatinate region. Many of the region’s professional musicians practiced during the winter and offered lessons to area students. They then traveled from spring to fall playing wherever they could to earn a living. By the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries, there were about 2,500 traveling musicians from the Western Palatinate region.
Displays use elaborately dressed and staged mannequins to illustrate the lives of these musicians and the instrument makers who supported them. Nearly every display includes headphones that allow you to listen to the song played by the brass band on display or the composition that a band leader is painstakingly working on. On the day we visited, a small musical group was practicing just inside the museum’s entrance, which helped us imagine the tunes that the wandering musicians played throughout their travels.
Just beyond the Pfälzer Musikantenland-Museum is the Urweltmuseum GEOSKOP, or the Museum of the Primeval World. This museum is “dedicated to exhibiting the geological treasures of the surrounding Palatine area” according to the English-language brochure available in the museum’s lobby. It explains that the rocks seen in the area today formed 290 million years ago when what is now Germany was located close to the equator as part of the supercontinent Pangea.
Visitors can see fossils and replicas of sharks and crocodile-like amphibians that were alive at the time as well as examples of the mineral resources and geology that grew out of that period. Visitors can take advantage of guided tours, fossil preparation workshops, and a geology reference library. My kids took advantage of the shark fossils that they could have their pictures taken with and the area set up with microscopes and slides available to visitors to view.
With a morning spent living out fantasies on the castle grounds and an afternoon spent learning about the life and history of the region, Burg Lichtenberg offers a full day of exploration. It deserves to be a part of your adventure in Germany.
Burg Lichtenberg Museums
Hours: All of the museums are open daily from 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM April through October and
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM and 2:00 PM – 5:00 PM November through March
Cost: Visitors can purchase individual tickets for the museums or take advantage of a combined ticket that is valid for GEOSKOP, Pfälzer Musikantenland-Museum, and the Natural History Gallery. A combined ticket is 3,60 € for adults, 2,80 € for children and students, and 9,20 € for families.
GEOSKOP Website: www.urweltmuseum-geoskop.de
Pfälzer Musikantenland-Museum and the Natural History Gallery
Address: Burg Lichtenberg, 66871 Thallichtenber
GPS Coordinates: 49.55571, 7.357300000000009