Another experience I had been looking forward to is staying at a youth hostel. I had heard that they are an inexpensive alternative accommodation and that they don’t even mind it if you aren’t much of a youth. In looking for a place to ease my transition from the Czech Republic back into Germany, I came across the listing for Burg Hohenberg Youth Hostel on the Deutches Youth Hostel website. Their pitch is, “Thick walls, defense towers and vaulted chambers – the margrave von Eger used to reside in the castle, today it is the guests of the Youth Hostel. Sleep where brave knights used to watch over the border triangle of Bohemia, Bavaria and Saxony.”
Wow! Sounded cool, and I have to say that it really is. Castle Hohenberg, perched on a hilltop high above the Eger River, is literally right on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic. It is also pretty much the border between the the German states of Bavaria and Saxony. This castle, or burg, dates back to the 1200’s and is the centerpiece of the village of Burg Hohenberg am Eger. Round towers are connected by high walls to protect a courtyard and keep in the center. A footbridge with an arched gateway limits access into the keep. It was built and first inhabited in the late 1100’s and early 1200’s to protect a trade route through the Eger River valley. The “Hohenberger knight festival” held in late May (weekend after Pentecost) celebrates the ancient castle history.
My room was up two flights of stairs and is in what might be called the attic. It is spartan, but clean and comfortable with private bath, down comforter and pillow, and a view to die for. Out my window is one of the turret towers of the castle, the picturesque village below, deep green farm fields, and a forested ridge in the distance beyond. The nights were cool and quiet and I slept like a babe. A hearty self-service breakfast of breads, meats, cheeses, fruits, cereals, coffee, and tea was put out in the mornings — hiker fuel. The stay was quite inexpensive. I was charged 16 Euros per night (about $23) for a single room with bath including breakfast. The staff was quite pleasant and helpful, although expect a hostel to be fairly self-service. Internet access was very weak and required standing or sitting in the hallway near the reception area to get any signal.
My fellow guests were several young families and a group of four bikers (two couples) in black leathers and motorcycle gear — I got a kick out of watching one of the bikers, a tall, lean, skin-headish guy daintily set an elegant breakfast table for his group — complete with flowers. I also heard that there was a group of 70 kids staying in the castle somewhere, but I never saw much evidence of them so they were obviously on a different plan.
This is scenic hiking country sometimes called the Fichtelgebirge — but also a place with multiple interesting histories. Beyond the castle history, the 30 Years War, and WWII, up to 25 years ago or so this was a frontline of the cold war. The border was closed and guarded on each side. Extended families were separated by the politics for decades and visiting each other was difficult, although it was possible for Germans to pursue a visa to visit Czechoslovakia. I met the vice-mayor by chance and he told me that there is good interaction now days. He said that the Czechs speak more German than vice versa.
Following are some more images from my visit to this area – captions where given appear above the images:
More castle views:
Inside the hostel:
Breakfast fit for a duke … if not for a king
The castle is in the village of Hohenberg an der Eger
There are great trails throughout the area — many cross the Czech Republic border on foot
border crossing on the trail
Bunker along the border
Footbridge across the border
Liba, CR is a walk away