If Stones Could Speak: The Palaces, Gardens and Monasteries of SouthWest Germany

Almost four million visitors each year visit 60 of Baden-Württemberg’s monuments and enjoy their very special atmosphere and the range of varied activities on offer there. Free open days, special guided tours, culinary demonstrations, garden walks make these special places come alive with stories from the past.
Anyone wanting to make the most out of Baden-Württemberg will soon realize they’ve come to the right address at Staatliche Schlösser & Gärten (SSG), the state heritage preservation agency for the state of Baden-Württemberg, or SouthWest Germany. The agency is responsible for 60 historic monuments that it maintains, develops and opens to the public. They include famous places such as Heidelberg Palace but also hidden gems such as the Palace and Palace Gardens in Schwetzingen, only 20 minutes from Heidelberg; the well-known Ludwigsburg Residential Place outside of Stuttgart as well as the lesser-known but no less stunning baroque gardens of Weikersheim Palace; the World Cultural Heritage site of Maulbronn Monastery as well as the luxurious Salem Monastery and Palace on Lake Constance and the Hohentwiel Fortress Ruins. Each estate has its own special stories that make each visit memorable as the past come alive with the lives of noble families, kings, queens and their followers.
Heidelberg Palace, the most famous palace ruin anywhere in the world, is the “flagship” of the Baden-Württemberg monument landscape and has more people visiting it than any other monument in the federal state. Its ruins are some of the most romantic in all of Europe ranging from the Elizabeth Gate constructed overnight by Ludwig V for his wife, Elizabeth Stuart to the façade of the castle which is brilliantly lit up four times each year in an enormous display of Bengal fireworks. The palace has cafes and a newly opened restaurant with one Michelin star.
Only 20 minutes from Heidelberg is the lesser-known summer palace of Schwetzingen with its extensive formal gardens, allees, and park. One of the most beautifully planned gardens in Europe, it also has a stunning restaurant open to the public which is well worth the visit especially during asparagus season. Hidden by enormous hedges, an outdoor stage is carved from a grotto where the nobles would gather and stand for hours while the king and queen sat and watched the plays.
The UNESCO monument of Maulbronn Monastery has a much different story as it was, and still is, a Protestant school. Today, it hosts concerts, culinary demonstrations, wine tastings and architectural tours. The Cistercian monastery in its rural tranquillity has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage List on account of its well-preserved architecture and history. Other outstanding examples of church architecture, include the resplendent monasteries of Upper Swabia, such as Wiblingen, Schussenried and Ochsenhausen and the impressive medieval complexes, including the monasteries of Bebenhausen and Alpirsbach, and the grandiose castles and ruins of fortresses, such as Hohentwiel or Hochburg.
At a time when celebrations of the Reformation 500 years ago are going on throughout Germany, there is an opportunity to savour this anniversary year in a quite particular way in these castles and monasteries where famous events occurred. Heidelberg Palace is an example as it used to be the residence of the prince electors of the Palatinate, who espoused the Reformation at an early stage. It was here that the Heidelberg Catechism was compiled at the behest of the prince elector – and it has retained its validity through to the present. In the 16th century, the palace was the glittering stage of the powerful protestant prince electors.
In Maulbronn Monastery, the Duke of Württemberg established a school in the former Cistercian monastery after the Reformation. In doing so, he marked the beginning of a pioneering tradition, which has continued through to the present. In those regions that did not go along with the Reformation, the Counter-reformation gave birth to an artistic movement, whose stated aim was to bring heavenly magnificence down to earth. The large monasteries in Ochsenhausen or Schussenried, as impressive edifices of Upper Swabian baroque, bear effective witness to that Counter Reformation. Fourteen monasteries and palaces are playing their part in the theme year and have an open invitation to visitors.
Another highlight this year is the reopening of the renovated bel étage in Bruchsal Palace, the former residence of the bishop princes. The reconstruction of the suite of rooms in the bel étage of Bruchsal Palace is now complete and a lost chapter from Bruchsal’s history has come back to life. But more than that: in the 18th century, the prince bishops’ palace used to be one of Europe’s cultural and artistic “hotspots.” During WWII, numerous artistic treasures were taken away for safe keeping, including furniture, paintings and tapestries – more than 350 priceless items – and they are now back in their original positions. It is no exaggeration to say that the collection of valuable tapestries in Bruchsal Palace is absolutely unique. Altogether, there are 38 of them, one of the biggest collections in Europe.
The third Sunday in June is Schlosserlebnistag (Experience a Castle Day), and many people make sure it is highlighted in their diaries – not only those living in Baden-Württemberg. It is a day on which all the palaces and castles throughout Baden-Württemberg are open to the public and offer organized events particularly suitable for families. On October 8, the Erlebnistag im Kloster  (A Day in the Monastery) will be held. Visitors can find out about the world of the monks and the pupils who studied in the schools that were installed in the monastery buildings later on. Whether large monastery complexes or romantic monastery ruins, whether severe mediaeval chambers or joyous baroque dining halls, the range of impressions is extensive.
Every year, the Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten frequently renews its programming and adds new and unusual guided tours. It might be stroll escorted by a lady or gentleman in historical dress, applying all their charms and acting skills in transporting you back to their epoch; or it might be a gourmet tour, during which experiencing history is combined with a culinary extra; or, yet again, it might be a “behind the scenes” program, a children’s event or a walk by candlelight – whatever it is, it will include plenty that’s new or never been seen before.
Advertisements

Introducing Brunette Bombshell × Disney Star Ronni Hawk

Ronni Hawk can be seen on the hit Disney Channel series “Stuck in the Middle.” Opposite a talented cast, Ronni plays the pretty, yet self-absorbed Rachel; the eldest of the Diaz’s seven children. “Stuck in the Waterpark – The Movie” will share the Diaz family adventures as they embark on a family vacation that doesn’t exactly go according to plan! The movie will also be available on Disney Channel’s multiple on-demand platforms including the app and Disney Channel vod.


In light of her newfound success, Ronni, who has considered herself an environmentalist since a very young age, is eager to use her position in the public eye to give back to those in need. Influenced by her father’s philanthropic work providing dental services and basic needs to communities in third world countries, Ronni has recently partnered with Thirst Project to raise funds and awareness surrounding the worldwide water crisis. With the launch of her campaign, Ronni will call on her fans to join her in raising money to fund projects building wells in communities where water is scarce.


Following in the footsteps of her mother, Ronni fell in love with performing while studying ballet as a young child. Ronni danced six hours a day, dividing her time between the Bak School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Boca Ballet Theatre. It was here that she discovered her interest and abilities in acting in an effort to expand her range of performance. During a weekend acting workshop for aspiring actors, Hawk connected with two acting coaches from LA who encouraged her to pursue her newfound passion and suggested she try Hollywood.


At the age of 13, Ronni seized an opportunity and flew to Los Angeles to meet with agents and managers. The first agent she interviewed with signed her on the spot in all categories, TV/Film, Commercial, Print and Voiceover. With the support of her friends and family, Ronni flew between the two coasts for auditions and training. At 15, she booked the role of “Rachel” on “Stuck in the Middle” and stayed in Los Angeles and began shooting the Disney sitcom.


Ronni’s experiences as a young dancer taught her the importance of self-control and prepared her for performing in front of large audiences. It was Ronni’s spirit and determination that prevented the rigors of the industry from having a negative impact on her self-confidence. Hawk equates much of her drive and focus as an actress to the intensity and strictness necessary to perfect the craft of dance. Ronni is also quick to thank great coaches, tutors and her family for all of their help, support and encouragement. For her current role, Ronni references TV favorites including “Vampire Diaries,” “The Originals” and “Peaky Blinders,” but looks forward to growing into dramatic roles as her career matures. She looks to the careers of film icons such as Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, Angelina Jolie and Robin Williams and classic works like “The Dead Poets Society” for inspiration.

Instagram.com/RonniHawk

Facebook.com/RonniHawk

Twitter.com/RonniHawk



Talent: @RonniHawk

Photo: @TyrenRedd

Publisher: @VaughnLowery

Style: @Apuje

Makeup: @AmyChance

Hair: @glamwithdenise

*Special thanks: @advantage_pr

**Images of Hawk from spread will be available in our upcoming mid/late May print issue.

[editorial presentation powered by Afatti Brand × Betty Moon]