Due to a heater failure we missed seeing most of the Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) but we were fortunate to visit two absolute highlights – Würzburg and Füssen – one at the beginning and the other at the end of this picturesque and meandering 460-kilometre route in Southern Germany.
We drove to Füssen at the end of the Romantic Road once our heater had been fixed and we were very pleased we did! It turned out to be an utterly charming town with a gothic castle in its centre (although all you can see of it from the town is the clock tower).
We had a great walk around the snowy medieval town centre with its cobbled streets, many pastel-coloured houses and shops selling everything from lederhosen to tourist paraphernalia.
We decided to have a look at the High Castle (Hohes Schloss), which is apparently one of the best preserved medieval castles in Bavaria but it wasn’t that easy to find the entrance.
We climbed up a flight of steps to a wooded parkland on the banks of the River Lech – a tributary of the Danube, fed by the snow melt from the nearby mountain range.
Our wanderings took us to the base of the castle but we still couldn’t see much of any of the buildings. We walked up a steep bastion and through an archway and suddenly the castle came into view.
The castle is the former summer residence of the Lord Bishops of Augsburg and much loved by King Ludwig ll who stayed there more than 30 times. It is now a museum and art gallery- housing the Bavarian State Collections of Paintings.
The most amazing thing about the castle, which was built between the 13th and 15th Centuries, were the Trompe l’oeil paintings on the exterior walls.
Originally created in 1499, the paintings trick the eye into perceiving the two dimensional surface as if it was in 3D. So windows appear to have lintels and sills, or look like bow windows – a very cleverly executed illusion!
We enjoyed the galleries which among other items, houses late Gothic panel paintings and sculptures which provide an excellent overview of the art of the 15th and 16th centuries in the region. Also on display were many treasures from the nearby Monastery of St Mang which was dissolved in the early 19th century.
The highlight of the museum was the knight’s hall with its marvellous carved wooden ceiling from the late 15th century.
We also enjoyed walking along the battlements to the clock tower and climbing up the wooden stairs to the top of the tower where we had a great view of the snowy rooftops of Füssen.
We walked back “home” to the van through the very snowy and slightly slippery wooded park, passing a beautiful villa painted in a very pleasing pale lemon.
The car park we had left our van in didn’t appear to have 24 hour parking so we drove a short distance to a side road on the edge of town that had not just one but three camper van parks!
It was the perfect spot to stay the night as just up the street were two supermarkets where we could stock up on our provisions!