Hambach Castle – The cradle of German democracy. Photo: © Nikolai Brenner
ATTRAC TION OF TH E MONTH
Discovering the origins of German democracy The Hambach Castle at the German wine route not only amazes visitors with its architecture and location high above Neustadt an der Weinstraße, but more importantly, with its history: the Hambach Castle, with the Hambach Festival of 1832, is considered one of the birthplaces of German democracy. Today, the castle and museum present a history that can be touched and experienced. TEXT: JESSICA HOLZHAUSEN I PHOTOS: STIFTUNG HAMBACHER SCHLOSS
It is the end of May 1832, when 25,000 people gather at the Hambach Castle for a protest. Disguised as a celebration, the protest was the beginning of the democratic movement in Germany and made the Hambach Castle famous all over Germany: Next to the St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt, the Hambach Castle is the main symbol of the German democratic movement – and has today become a favourite spot to visit for tourists from all over the world. “The spirit of Hambach, born 180 years ago when thousands of people courageously set out towards the castle ruins – the dream of freedom before their eyes – can still be felt today,” says Ulrike Dittrich, the castle’s managing director. 52 | Issue 77 | August 2019
High above the city at the slopes of the Palatinate forest, visitors have a spectacular view over the Rhine valley and the surrounding vineyards. While the castle had been a ruin during the times of the ‘Hambacher Fest’, today it has developed into one of the most important historic sites and has been extended accordingly – with a modern restaurant, among other things. For the very cautious interfering with the historic structure, architect Max Dudler won the prize of the German Architecture Museum in 2012. The architecture preserves tradition while transferring the building into modernity, allowing an impressive experience of history.
The Hambach Castle makes it possible to touch and delve into history, not only as a monument, but also through its main exhibition. Different media and activity stations turn history into a real experience: “The exhibition invites you to dive right into the exciting days of 1832 and experience history with all five senses.” Above that, the castle offers tours and workshops: for example, about the historic architecture, caricatures or the song as a political medium. To experience history where it happened is important, says castle manager Ulrike Dittrich: “Historic sites like the Hambach Castle enrich the learning experience and allow a multisensory access to historical and political education. And this is even more important in times when populism again becomes stronger.”
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