Schadeck Castle is the most recent and smallest, but still most interesting of the four Neckarstein castles. It is perched on the high mountain like a bird's nest, which is why it is, in fact, called the 'Swallow's Nest'. After Ulrich II (1236-1257) inherited the 'front castle' from his father Ulrich I and another son joined the clergy, Bligger V, the third son, was forced to build a new castle. However, there was no more room on the mountain ridge where the other castles stood and thus he had to erect it downstream from the front castle on the slopes of the rocky massif that drop steeply to the Neckar River. This location must have caused enormous difficulties during the construction. To save the level ground for the castle complex and provide it with a frontal ditch as protection against the mountainside, a large chunk of the steep rock face had to be hewn out.
The castle itself stands on a rocky basement and appears to literally grow out of the mountain. Along the top of the high curtain wall, the most likely place to be attacked, runs a covered wall-walk with little towers on both sides. They command a panoramic view of the Neckar River valley and the impressive walled town of Dilsberg. Visitors to the castle today walk along a path from Neckarsteinach, which leads through the former frontal ditch. Earlier access was by way of a steep serpentine path from the Neckar. Today the ruin is the property of the state of Hesse and was recently restored at great cost. It can be viewed at any time free of charge and the curtain wall can be climbed.References:
Augustusburg Palace represents one of the first examples of Rococo creations in Germany. For the Cologne elector and archbishop Clemens August of the House of Wittelsbach it was the favourite residence. In 1725 the Westphalian architect Johann Conrad Schlaun was commissioned by Clemens August to begin the construction of the palace on the ruins of a medieval moated castle.
In 1728, the Bavarian court architect François de Cuvilliés took over and made the palace into one of the most glorious residences of its time. Until its completion in 1768, numerous outstanding artists of European renown contributed to its beauty. A prime example of the calibre of artists employed here is Balthasar Neumann, who created the design for the magnificent staircase, an enchanting creation full of dynamism and elegance. The magical interplay of architecture, sculpture, painting and garden design made the Brühl Palaces a masterpiece of German Rococo.
UNESCO honoured history and present of the Rococo Palaces by inscribing Augustusburg Palace – together with Falkenlust Palace and their extensive gardens – on the World Heritage List in 1984. From 1949 onwards, Augustusburg Palace was used for representative purposes by the German Federal President and the Federal Government for many decades.
In 1728, Dominique Girard designed the palace gardens according to French models. Owing to constant renovation and care, it is today one of the most authentic examples of 18th century garden design in Europe. Next to the Baroque gardens, Peter Joseph Lenné redesigned the forested areas based on English landscaping models. Today it is a wonderful place to have a walk.