We took a day trip to Germany to the charming town of Bad Bentheim, just across the border of Holland. Bad in German means bath, and this is a popular spa town. In the middle of this charming town sits a fabulous medieval castle. I love castles, and this was a great one to explore. Castle Bentheim is the largest hilltop castle in northwest Germany with a recorded history from 1050. For the past five centuries, it has been owned by the Counts and Princes of Bentheim and Steinfurt. No one resides in Kronenburg Castle anymore, but it is now a museum depicting how the lords of the castle lived. Both Otto von Bismarck and KaiserWilhelmI once stayed here as guests.
My favourite part was the castle keep which holds the dungeon. One of the oldest buildings in the castle, it dates back to the 11th and 12th centuries. In the interior of the tower is a small opening in the floor called “the hole of fear.” It is the only entry to the windowless dungeon 12 meters below. In the Middle Ages, this was the Castle jail. Entrance to the dungeon is only accessible by means of a rope winch installed above the “hole of fear”. A bit creepy!
At the top of the tower are panoramic views of the town and countryside. The simple Gothic chapel features a two-sided Madonna, carved in 1503, hanging freely from the ceiling. Both sides depict the front of the Madonna. In the courtyard is an early Romanesque stone cross of the Crucified Christ discovered in 1828. Called the “Herrgott of Bentheim,” it was created around 1000 A.D. and is considered one of the earliest portrayals of Christ in Central Europe. I was also fascinated by the library that holds copies of old books, Bibles, and music sheets. Schlosspark sits beneath the castle with well-manicured gardens and a lovely fountain in the middle. The entire setting could be straight from a Grimms brother´s fairy tale.
We couldn’t leave Bad Bentheim, and Germany, without sampling the apple strudel. It was as good as it looked! A great day trip and a chance for me to practice the little German I know.
Bad Bentheim is roughly one hour’s drive from Münster/Osnabrück International Airport (FMO) in Greven. A regional airport is in Klausheide near Nordhorn, about 30 minutes’ drive away. It is also accessible by train or bus.