Mecklenburg – Manors and Horses
Mecklenburg – fine travel destinations in the north-eastern part of Germany. There are many opportunities to explore Mecklenburg visiting castles and manor houses, enjoying the wonderful landscape. Travel by car, by bicycle or with a horse. And for those who like the art of slow travel, why not travelling as a passenger of a carriage, dipping into fairytale scenarios of past times?
The two black Friesian horses trot through the Mecklenburg countryside in the same calm rhythm. Images of idyllic landscapes pass by. The path to the Vogelsang manor leads through small villages with brick houses, through alleys and along lush yellow rape fields. The horses on alongside pastures watch us. Mecklenburg is equestrian territory. The holiday region offers much more than just sunbathing on the popular Baltic beaches. A trip to castles and manor houses in the Northeast of Germany can be an impressive experience as a horse riding holiday but also just having a good life without the horses.
Eier Box – the egg box is displayed in black letters at the front garden of a house in the last village before the neo-gothic castle building appears at the end of the road. Put in some money and the breakfast egg is secured. This kind of trade is based on trust. The carriage now heads straight for a magnificent fountain in front of the imposing Vogelsang portal. The welcoming committee includes a peacock.
“When the beauty of horses is reflected in the New Romantic era against the backdrop of a neo-Gothic façade with towers, battlements and opulent staircases, no traveller would pass by”. – Vogelsang Manor House
Vogelsang is embedded in a gently undulating landscape near the “Mecklenburgische Schweiz” Nature Park. The manor house, built in the Tudor style, is a two-storey plastered brick building in the municipality of Lalendorf. Around the roof there is a battlemented wreath. Consisting of individual battlements, the architectural element, which originally belonged to fortifications, was regarded as a visible sign of the owners high social status. They were allowed to fortify their stately home.
Vogelsang was first mentioned in 1379. In the 19th century owners changed frequently. The actual existing manor house with its large park was built in English style, untiil 1840 during the period of German Romanticism. In 1884 it was sold to the Hamburg merchant Julius Hüniken. The merchant had the park and manor house renovated in 1893. The Hüniken owned Vogelsang until its expropriation in the course of the so called land reform in Germany, 1945. It then was owned by the communist state of the GDR. From the original estate, in addition to the castle, a stable from 1897, a water tower, the coach house and the inspector’s house have been preserved.
Since 2010 the impressive Vogelsang manor house has been in private ownership again. The new landlord, Dr. Robert Uhde from Rostock, originally a physician, but then rather a concept developer and organiser of cultural events and owner of an event agency, with his new property he is gradually creating a space “beyond time”. Already during the still ongoing restoration work regular events take place: Concerts, shows, festivals – inspired by the Victorian age and the Steampunk movement. With the Horse Whispering event, Vogelsang Manor dedicates two days to the horse: workshops and show acts across the different riding styles.
The manor house can be rented for celebrations, the castle and park served already as location for film and photo shoots. In the future the property is to offer accommodation for riders and their horses. Castle renovation is an expensive undertaking. “We have created a loan community for the complex restoration work of the zinc roof”, says Robert Uhde. A coworking space and the extension of the inspector’s house for use as a trail riding base are also planned.
Information about Vogelsang, events, offers and contact details:
The tourism organisations of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania are committed to liberal riding route regulations and the expansion of the riding route network. “The tourism location Mecklenburg-Vorpommern should use its potential as a space for equestrian tourism”, says Tobias Woitendorf, deputy managing director of the state tourism association. After all, about 600,000 of the approximately 30 million overnight stays in the region are spent on horseback riding holidays each year. A total of 6,400 kilometres of riding trails are available to them between the lake district and the Baltic coast. The state tourism association of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is also calling for a coherent network of riding paths that will enable riders to ride round courses and allow flexible route planning.
Many of Mecklenburg’s castles and estates already offer accommodation for trail riders, such as the Alt Sammit Castle on Lake Krakow – Schloss Alt Sammit.
As early as 1600, great horse tradition was celebrated at the Alt Sammit estate over the centuries. The paintings in the castle bear witness to this. In GDR times, in the 1970s, the Güstrow stud farm Ganschow was established at Alt-Sammit. The youth hostel-like riding tourism centre offered low-cost riding holidays, mainly for children. An interesting collection of posters in the typical graphic style reminds us of the early GDR agriculture spirit. The posters with slogans of wisdom that turn-up weird today, were intended to bring agricultural knowledge closer to the people in the post-war period. After the fall of communism, the palace was exposed to rapid decay. Since the 90’s it was brought back “into shape”. Today, modern, lovingly furnished apartments are available – for nostalgic travelers who want to return to the place where they were riding as they were kids, for hikers, for those seeking peace and quiet, or for riders who would like to be trained at the neighbouring Ganschow stud farm. The Ganschow Stud Equestrian Centre offers riding lessons up to higher classes with own horses and also with provided horses of the riding school.
Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania has the highest castle density in Europe. Every tenth square kilometre counts one castle, over 2000 castles in total. Many of them are still empty and abandoned today. Between 200 and 300 of the castles offer overnight stays. Every courageous person, for whatever reason, who take on one of the once sublime houses, to renovate it, to let it shine in new splendour – to preserve architectural history deserves great thanks and respect. More than 300 of the castles and country estates are used for tourism and are open to the public or partially accessible. Schwerin is the ideal starting or finishing point for a tour of Mecklenburg’s castles, palaces and manor houses. The state capital owns a magnificent “fairytale castle”. Situated on the castle island, Schwerin Castle, today hosts the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It is an opulent building that has grown historically over a thousand years.
Not far from Schwerin, in the district of Ludwigslust-Parchim, lies the picturesque Wendorf Castle.
“Residing like the Dukes in old Mecklenburg” – Wendorf Castle Hotel
The Wendorf manor house, also known as the Wendorf hunting lodge, was built in its present form from 1904 to 1906. The building is currently used as a luxurious hotel. Fine salons with inlays and woodwork in Art Nouveau style on ceilings and walls. The Wendorf Castle Hotel offers the luxury of a 5-star grand hotel: individually designed suites, a spa in the vaulted cellar, a light-flooded orangery and the extensive park with art sculptures allow to take a break in the tranquillity and relaxation of the exceptional ambience. Those who no longer wish to travel far for fine dining can do so in the adjoining restaurant “Cheval Blanc”.
Wendorf Castle was first mentioned in 1637, when it was owned by the Schack family until 1895. From 1904, a new owner had the building completely rebuilt according to a design by architect Paul Korff. The associated park with up to 600-year-old oak trees was designed within collaboration of garden architect Reinhold Hoemann. After the Second World War, the castle served as a children’s home. Following the fall of the Berlin Wall, it was restored and opened as the Grand Hotel Schloss Wendorf in June 2009.
The Schlosshotel has a total of nine 5-star luxury suites in the castle and further junior suites as well as double rooms in the 4-star standard in the Hotel Residence. Each suite has been individually furnished with authentic antiques. The noble salons, the library, the cigar lounge, the orangery – everything is authentic down to the smallest detail. The castle terraces and the castle park with a bathing lake were reconstructed according to old models.
Holstein show jumpers are bred and trained at Schloss Wendorf. Where the stables for the horses of the old castle used to be, there has been an equestrian sports arena since 2009. On the one hand it serves as a boarding stable, but on the other hand top-class show horses are professionally trained at the riding facility. The winner of the Hamburg Derby 2009, the Mecklenburg show jumper Thomas Kleis, runs his show jumping stable at Wendorf Castle. Professional sport, horse breeding, holidays with horses, wonderful trail rides and traditional hunt riding with the Mecklenburg pack – the scenery of the Schlosshotel offers perfect settings for perfect (riding) vacation. And for those who prefer to play golf, there is an excellent golf course in striking distance.
Everything you need to know for a luxurious country holiday, a weekend at the Wendorf Castle Hotel with or without your horse: www.schlosshotel-wendorf.de
Cloud formations like paintings over the expanse of the Mecklenburg landscape. Earthy brown tones, radiant yellow, green in various colour gradations. Fields alternate with rape fields in full bloom. Gentle hills. The landscapes are varied for travellers. On the one day the rich colours of the fields are pleasing, the next – the tree islands in them. Lovely villages, avenues, the many lakes, abundant forest, few people and not so much traffic on the roads make up an environment in which the mind comes to rest and the senses become more awake.
However, it is not this landscape in which one would suspect gauchos and criollos. And yet it does exist:
“Where the Mecklenburg Gauchos live …” – Gut Dalwitz
At Gut Dalwitz in Walkendorf, guests can feel like staying in South America while helping with the cowherds. Also for the less experienced riders, well behaving Criollo horses are kept ready for Gaucho style riding to work with the cattle. The Criollo is a South American workhorse that is also used in polo. Criollo are commonly bred in Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, the Caribbean and Venezuela. Gut Dalwitz is a full-time agricultural business. Farming and livestock breeding are not a holiday backdrop, but the centre of an ecological and sustainable economic system.
The noble family of Bassewitz was already mentioned in documents in the late Middle Ages. The land around Dalwitz has been in their possession since 1349. After the expropriation and escape of the family in 1945, the Dalwitz estate was owned by the communist state of the GDR. In 1992 Dr. Heinrich Earl of Bassewitz and his wife, Lucy Countess of Bassewitz, came from South America to rebuild the farm and the Dalwitz estate. They tackled the renovation of the farm buildings ambitiously. The Earl of Bassewitz had worked as a project manager in Uruguay for a long time. The idea of furnished holiday apartments in the renovated farm buildings arose from the need to use the buildings sensibly.
Lovingly restored and decorated in modern country house style, the furnishings show the signature of the landlady Lucy von Bassewitz and her Uruguayan origins: South American flair in the bright, tastefully furnished holiday apartments. Particularly popular is the “Asado”, the barbecue that takes place in summer when the weather is fine. Another popular meeting place is the “Remise”, the farm restaurant in the old stable.
Information on the estate, criollo breeding, horse riding,
on short country trips or extensive holiday: www.feriengutdalwitz.de
Mecklenburg can be a pleasure at any time of the year, even when it drizzles. Especially if you have a hotel room in the magnificent Kaarz Castle.
“Would you like to sleep in the Gardener’s Room, the Milkmaid’s Room or the Tower Room?” – Kaarz Castle
The rooms are decorated tastefully so that Mecklenburg-travellers feel at home right away. The castle building is in use as a hotel, café and restaurant. The hotel offers 22 rooms, suites and apartments. Each room has its own unique design. Fancy ideas and objects in the rooms make a stay at Kaarz Castle particularly pleasant – such as hot-water bottles on the beds, raincoats on the hooks in front of the rooms in the hotel corridor and a collection of rubber boots, from which everyone can borrow a pair.
Sometimes simpler – sometimes more opulent, every room is different. Wallpaper with different patterns, cushions printed with original motifs, rustic coat stands made of coarse wood. Each hotel room has an individual name to match its furnishings and location.
The Kaarz estate was founded in the 17th century. In 1872 it was bought by Julius Hüniken, a Hamburg shipowner and merchant. He had the present manor house built and the park laid out. After Julius Hüniken’s death in 1891, the manor went to his son, who from 1902 had the castle rebuilt and the park transformed into an English landscape park. The facade of the neoclassical manor house is restrainedly decorated, the large tower in the style of a monoptero with its cast-iron spiral staircase is striking. Inside the palace, only a few original elements have been preserved, such as the fireplace in the Red Salon and the ceiling painting in the foyer. Interruptions in the stucco of the small library indicate conversions when Kaarz was in use during the GDR era as an old people’s home.
In 1873 the neo-baroque park with rare trees was built on 70,000 square metres in the Mecklenburg end moraine landscape around the castle according to plans by Carl Ansorge, a pupil of the famous master gardener Lenné. Later, the park was rebuilt in the English landscape style. The park, designed as an arboretum at the beginning of the 20th century, was described as a special treasure of park architecture in the yearbook of the “Royal Dendrological Society” and is today on the national and European monument list.
In the castle’s park and in the castle itself, works of art are exhibited. In the staircase hang pictures of a photo artist who had a kind of artist-in-residence program at Kaarz Castle. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. The aim of the stay is the artistic examination of Kaarz Castle, the surrounding area or the region.
The Kaarz gastronomy relies on cooking with regional and local products, often in organic quality. Fish from the region, poultry and beef from surrounding farms, honey from local beekeepers. Homemade apple products are made from apples of the castle’s own orchard.
In the morning the opulent castle breakfast and in the eveneing the dinner is served in the Red Salon. The so-called family meal has a long tradition at Kaarz Castle. It continues the tradition of gathering all family members around a large table sharing their meal. The food is served in bowls and dishes and everyone takes their meals according to their taste and mood. The range of regional family dishes changes monthly: for example Königsberger Klopse, Mecklenburger Kloppschinken, stuffed rib roast and duck in the pre-Christmas period.
Drink a cocktail at the bar with a view into the park, let your mind travel. The non-alcoholic cocktail with lemon and basil is particularly refreshing. Definitely try it!
Kaarz Castle and its park: www.schlosskaarz.de
Kaarz Castle belongs to the Liebschaft Mecklenburg. Part of the Liebschaft is the Vorbeck estate with its adjacent Winston golf course. Popular as accommodation for golfers, the manor with a riding facility for dressage and show jumping also offers accommodation for riders of all ages with riding lessons on your own horse or with horses of the riding school. Trail riders and riders from other disciplines are also welcome. The originally furnished farm café is particularly beautiful. On the benches of the modern windows there are collections of vessels from earlier times, especially pretty is the teapot collection. Spacious estates are an ideal place for long walks. A canoe station has been installed at the Vorbeck estate. For those for whom this does not provide enough variety: The Mecklenburg Carriage Museum in Kobrow Mecklenburgische Kutschenmuseum exhibits historical carriages for almost every purpose. Before or after the entertaining guided tour, the huge round table invites to linger having tea or coffee and cake. And those who then let their gaze wander upwards to the ceiling, will discover the traditional rural harvest festival crowns.
The variety of castles, manor houses and country estates in Mecklenburg is enormous. For every target group the Mecklenburger Land has much to offer. The following websites show more travel ideas to castles and estates.
Title image : (c) Simone Fust
A “castle safari” exploring the beauty of Mecklenburg:6 Likes