Well, after spending the night in Thale
, we got up early and took a van into the Harz Mountains. After a 45 minute drive, 15 minutes of which was spent wondering if the driver was just hauling us out into the woods to kill us, we emerged from the trees and found saw our first German Castle. Burg Falkenstein first began being constructed around 1100, and continued to be built till (....). I would continue with the Geschichte (history) but unfortunately the tour we took was all in German and our teacher translated for us, so I really didn't retain much because I was trying to pick out words and translate on my on...which didn't work too well. Anyway, the castle is a wonderful example of how architects of the middle ages thought out the defensive nature of the castles.
Burg Falkenstein has seven gates, each one progressively smaller, that one has to go through until you actually reach the interior of the castle. The first gate is built at an angle so the attacking army has to fight left handed, putting them at an instant disadvantage. If they were to get past the first gate and they might end up hurting themselves because the area is too small for men to draw their weapons. The second gate is at such an angle to the wall in front of it that it is impossible to get enough force with a battering ram to do any damage to the doors. and it gets even harder from there. If you're curious about the rest of the gates, ask me. I won't go into the rest of them, just put it this way, they get smaller and more painful if you were to go on.
The most interesting part of the castle tour is the falcon show.
Outside wall of Burg Falkenstein
The castle has in its employ several falconers and a wide array of birds of prey. Just to name the a few of the birds that they have: American Bald Eagle, Red-Tailed Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Vulture, and two Horned Owls. The trainers give an hour long presentation of the skills of the birds and let them fly free. It really was great being able to see a Bald Eagle up close. They are amazing creatures with deadly talents.
After the falcon show, we performed in the chapel at the castle. It was really an incredible experience. It was the first time that I've ever had the opportunity to sing accompanied by a harpsichord. We had a pretty good crowd of people who gathered to listen, both inside and out in the courtyard. All in all, it was an incredible day. I thought it would be pretty cool to do a "Castles of Germany" trip, so I guess I could consider this the first stop