August 3rd, we took a day trip to explore and hike through the castle ruins of Donaustauf. The trip was actually a last minute decision, as we originally planned on spending the day at another palace – one that was actually still intact. However, the sad eyes our dog, Autumn, had been wearing for the hour before our departure had finally worn us down. We quickly searched for nearby castle ruins and stumbled upon Donaustauf. Really, any ruins would have worked as the only requirement for the trip was it needed to be outdoors.
Once we had chosen our destination, we packed ourselves into the car and were on our way. It was about and hour and twenty minute drive away from Vilseck, but when you take the autobahn you almost always arrive sooner than expected. We drove through the small town, unsure where the ruins actually were. We parked the car and figured we’d wing it. Most likely the ruins would be perched atop some hill nearby in the middle of the town, so we hoofed it until we found the gate entrance and, lo and behold, the ruin parking lot.
We hiked up the trail into the heart of the ruins, which in all honesty wasn’t the worst hike we’ve had to do here. The walk up the town streets was actually worse than this. We spent a good hour or so meandering around the ruins, taking pictures and enjoying the scenery. Even though half of the castle has crumbled, the architecture was breathtaking. I can only imagine how beautiful this structure must have been while it was still standing in one piece. Not to mention the amazing views the occupants would have seen every time they looked out their windows.
The castle had been built in the early tenth century, just outside of the city of Regensburg, as a stronghold to defend against the Hungarian invasions. Bishop Tuto of Regensburg had the castle constructed and for several centuries afterward, it was seen as one of the strongest structures in the area. It was well sought after by many and was involved in quite a few military attacks. For the last four centuries, the castle has been left to decay in peace – aside from the tourist types and hike lovers.
We had so much fun on our little outing, and Autumn was thrilled she was able to partake in the exploration this time around. The weather was beautiful – sunny and seventy-five – and the scenery was incredible. Castle ruins are quickly becoming my favorite places to go for day trips. If you’re ever in Europe, take advantage of the abundance of castles – ruins and non-ruins alike – and make sure to see a few during your trip.
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