Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Beautiful Bayreuth - Part Two of Two


Through the rock gardens
It took a while to get going on the Sunday following the Eremitage festival.  Our sluggishness was, in part, due to our relatively late night, which created a very sleepy daughter, but also because the day had one of those lazy day feels to it.  So, despite initial plans to get going much earlier, we headed west of Bayreuth in the late morning to the Margravial rock gardens of Sanspareil.





The glorious garden (pub/cafe in background)
Sanspareil, which is pronounced in a bizarre combination of French and German that I've yet to master, is another of Wilhelmine's contributions to the region, although much of the garden has long gone (they were built in 1744) and for the most part only ruins remain.  The only major buildings left are the church and the cafe, between which lie a rather beautiful garden.








Wandering through the ruins
The ruins themselves are way cool.  If you didn’t know they were ruins, you’d swear that what remains of the rock gardens were part of the natural landscape (paths and stairs excluded).  Admittedly, much of what remains are in fact natural features, but the paths are so well done it’s really difficult to distinguish between the man-made bits and the products of geomorphology.  There are markers to indicating what used to be around, and it was really easy to kill an hour strolling through the rocks, peering into caves and just taking it all in.  Even with quite a few tourists around, it's still a quiet place, well-suited to reflection.









The theatre of Sanspareil
One part of the garden that is definitely man-made, is the theatre, and one of the very few original structures left, and one that is used to this day (the play running at the time of our visit was Cinderella, but we didn't stay for the day's performance).  It's amazing, certainly Greek (via the Romans) inspired, and given how much of the area was flattened during WWII, it's a minor miracle they've survived.  In addition to the ruins of the rock garden, there's a beautiful flower garden, an old church rebuilt after WWII, and, of course, a castle.  Sadly the Castle is shut for all of 2010 for much need renovations (it's falling apart), so instead we had to settle for Wurst and a Weiss-beer in the sun.

 
The theatre....Up close and personal
From Sanspareil, we took a drive into the stunning Franconian Alps, littered with limestone formations, beautiful clear rivers and quaint little valley villages, with the aim of visiting the caves at Teufelsh√∂hle, near the town of Pottenstein.  Unfortunately, it seemed everyone else in the area had the same idea, and it was too crowded for our liking, and instead we headed back to Bayreuth for ice-cream!  A great day, topping off a magnificent weekend.

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