Some people collect stamps, others coins, yet others again rare editions of books, porcelain figures … you name it. I, on the other hand, collect ruins. How does that work, you ask? Well, castle ruins have fascinated me ever since I was a kid, and I like to visit them whenever I can. I hike up mountains, scramble about stone piles, take pictures and keep track of the places I visit. I read up on the history and collect stories and legends that surround the place. It has a torture chamber? Excellent. Ghost stories? Even better! I do this because I am a history geek and I love to read and write stories. Not least because this is excellent inspiration for my next book…
This is the second blog entry of a series that focuses on Castle Ruins.
Falkenstein: a proud name in the upper Austrian Mühlviertel, surrounded by myths and legends. Infamous robber knights, enchanted nixies, doomed kings, tragic love stories – Falkenstein has it all. We set out with great expectations, eager to explore the ruins. Alas, it turned out to be somewhat of a disappointment.
We hiked through a narrow but idyllic forest path framed by mossy stones and brooks.
And ran into this poisonous little fella here:
After a while, the trail widened into a rough stone-paved path, indicating that there must have been some sort of civilisation around here, once upon a time. Other than that, there was no sign of the ruin. Maybe we took the wrong path somewhere?
Deciding to walk on, we followed the path, jumped across a little brook and emerged into a forest clearing, where seemingly out of nowhere, it appeared, bathed in sunlight: Falkenstein ruin.
It was in such dilapidated state, with signs of “Lebensgefahr” posted everywhere (“mortal danger”) -do not proceed. To my disappointment, it really did not look safe to scramble about those walls.
It looked like it could collapse any time. So, we admired that pile of stones from a safe distance.
Falkenstein was simply left to deteriorate since 1724. Unthinkable that for several centuries since 1140, Falkenstein used to be the main ruling headquarters north of the Danube. It harboured the tragic fate of King Zawisch of Falkenstein, who was imprisoned and beheaded by his own stepson.
Was this the tower where Lilofee bathed in secret on full moon nights? Legend says that her husband, the lord of the castle, broke his promise, spied on her bathing and saw that his dear wife had a siren’s tail. This legend ends the usual way: she left him and returned to the Danube.
We picnicked in front of the main gate, dreamed a little in the late summer sun about knights and nixies and returned the way we came, through the sun-dappled forest path.