Inside 'Rapunzel' castle visited by Queen Victoria left abandoned for decades – as restoration costs hit £34m | The Sun
NESTLED in the rolling German countryside near Thuringia is a breathtaking, abandoned castle that was once decorated for Queen Victoria.
Reinhardsbrunn Castle has a colourful history, from being Prince Albert’s childhood summer home, to being used as wartime hospital and then a hotel.
Schloss Reinhardsbrunn has a religious history, as it sits on the site once occupied by Reinhardsbrunn Abbey.
The abbey was thought to have dated back to 1085, and was built by a ruler of Thuringia called Louis Springer.
It was a tumultuous time, when the church and state were disagreeing over who could choose and install bishops, and Reinhardsbrunn Abbey came under papal protection from 1093.
During the German Peasant War in 1525, the monastery was destroyed, and the monks fled, leaving the building to fall into disrepair.
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It wasn’t until the 16th century that the former abbey was transformed once more, and later was used as an opulent hunting retreat from 1827.
The castle remains that you can see today were done by Duke Ernest I of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, who was Prince Albert’s father – and later Queen Victoria’s father-in-law.
With the help of architect Gustav Eberhard, he turned the abbey into a castle to be used as a summer residence, and a young Albert spent years running around the landscaped gardens as a child.
The neo-gothic castle includes a bell tower with a tall spire, which is why some have dubbed the magnificent building “Castle Rapunzel”.
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Queen Victoria also visited the beautiful castle, and historian Michael Kerrigan said in his Abandoned Palaces book: “His [Albert’s] father had actually had his estate developed before she [Victoria] came here, in an explicitly ‘English’ style.
“So this place, I feel, takes us to the very heart of the extremely (and often counterintuitively) close and intricate mesh of relations between the heads of state of Europe at this time.”
The Royal Collection Trust has a series of photographs of Reinhardsbrunn Castle, which Queen Victoria commissioned due to her husband’s love of the dwelling.
The beloved castle remained in the family for a number of years, but when World War II ended, it was taken over by the East German state and used as a military hospital for Soviet Red Army troops.
When the hospital closed down, the state used Schloss Reinhardsbrunn for a number of functions, such as a police and firefighter training centre in 1953 and a hotel in 1961.
The spectacular building passed through the hands of a number of hotel and tourism companies, and at one point there were plans for it to be turned into a swanky five-star hotel.
However, this was never realised, and by 1991, Schloss Reinhardsbrunn had once again fallen into a neglected condition.
A small construction company called BOB Consult GmbH bought the castle in 2006 for the equivalent of £23,000.
They then sold the building to a Russian investment organisation in 2008, who declared they wanted to make the five-star hotel.
However, in July 2018, the castle was legally repossessed by the State in a bold move.
The historic building was still derelict and the State issued a decree under its powers to preserve historical monuments.
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Necessary repairs were carried out, but the castle is still yet to be restored to its former glory.
Experts have estimated around £34 million would be needed to fully renovate the castle.
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