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August 19, 2018

Castle in Hout Bay – Dragons in Africa

Lichtenstein Castle in Africa

 

Castle in Hout Bay, Cape Castle in Hout Bay

Along time ago in Africa, a rich and influential Lord decided to mark out some land and build his Kingdom. Every kingdom needs a castle. This one would be based on the Gothic Schloss Lichtenstein Castle in Germany, maybe because perfection needs no improvement?

Lichtenstein Castle Hout BayOkay, it wasn’t THAT long ago – Though the 90’s do seem like last week to me. It wasn’t a Lord either – it was a Nouveau Lord (aka a successful businessman.) However, it was Africa, where estates can resemble kingdoms when mist blows in from the sea. It also has dragons. Stone dragons, to go with our tigers, which are actually fish – But that’s another story in another realm.

Why Lichtenstein Castle?

If South Africa has East London, Port Elizabeth, Dundee and New Germany, then Lichtenstein Castle is a necessity. In 1998 Lichtenstein Castle grew from the ground in Hout Bay. It must have been a labour of love & dreams.

Truth

I will tell you your truth in this tale because it might make sense. My truth differs, so I will tell you that first so that you can forget it.

Dragons in Africa

Ilona is an enigma, & my friend. She has both a lifelong affinity for dragons as well as an uncanny way of attracting things that bring her joy. I haven’t checked dates, but I am certain that she either lived or intended to live in the Cape when the idea to build this castle was born.

Lichtenstein Castle, Hout Bay

My truth: An intelligent, wealthy, receptive person saw a castle and was inexplicably filled with enough inspiration and determination to create his own castle back home. The completed building needed some finishing touches. The replica castle was authentic enough to provide a secluded home for Ilona’s summoned dragons. They duly arrived with the gargoyles & other trimmings.

Lichtenstein Castle Hout Bay

Lichtenstein Castle, Germany

Wilhelm Hauff published a book, Lichtenstein, in 1826. The book featured the old Lichtenstein Castle in Germany, as well as the estate with its cave. The story fired the imagination of the then Count Wilhelm von Urach.- a cousin to the King, & a German patriot with a keen interest in medieval art, and armour.

The Count was so taken with the book that he bought the old Lichtenstein estate to house his vast collection. The ruined buildings were beyond repair, so he rebuilt his castle on the (1390 AD) foundations of the original. Work was completed in the 2 years between 1840-1842.

The project was a great achievement. The King attended the inauguration of the restored building -A grand, carefully designed & imposing gothic style castle which still contains precious artworks to this day. Various additions & improvements followed before the castle suffered damaged during WW 2.

Lichtenstein Castle Germany

Original in Germany

Renovations and restorations were carried out with the support of non-profit organisations, and the castle was brought back to its former glory. The castle is still owned by the Dukes of Urach, and known for its beauty. Nowadays, the grounds are open to the general public. Guided tours are available to enable viewing access to many parts of the inner building.

Lichtenstein Castle (South Africa)

Reyneir Fritz, a German-born Cape Town businessman,  built his Lichtenstein Castle Replica in Hout Bay after a visit to the land of his ancestors. He saw the castle in Germany and wanted one for himself. On returning to South Africa, the owner/builder created his fantasy family home. Both castles were built with inspiration & imagination as much as any other building material.

Hout Bay provided the seclusion he sought, and despite the odds, he was granted planning approval in this area of outstanding natural beauty. The first castle was rebuilt, then damaged in WW2. This castle was built, but once again, tragedy followed. Mr Fritz died soon after he & his family moved into their new home.

International tourists who choose Africa as a destination are often as hardy or sporty as the locals. The castle quickly became quite a popular walking/exploring destination. It was opened as a guest house, conference & events venue.

New Owners

Lichtenstein Castle, Hout Bay was sold in 2012. Rumour had it that it was bought by a wealthy Russian tycoon who wanted to remain anonymous. News24 later stated that the Deeds Office lists Svetlana Besfamilnaya as the owner since 29 May 2012.

Facts: Lichtenstein Castle, Hout Bay

(Until proven otherwise)

  •  The original is near a cave which also featured in the 1826 book. The Hout Bay replica features a natural waterfallLichtenstein Hout Bay waterfall
  • It is a private residence
  • It has a helipad
  • The castle in Hout Bay took longer to build than the original one (12 years in all)
  • It can be booked for film shoots
  • The separate Conference Centre can be booked for events
  • It is unlikely that permission would be granted to build this castle here today due to the location (a protected area)
  • The castle blends into the mountain backdrop & often surprises walkers when they look up and spot it
  • It’s off the beaten track. Access is by helicopter or one mountain access road only
  • The estate is surrounded by fynbos
  • Travel2CapeTown listed it as a guest lodge (Do check first as things change & this is not an advert)
  • It overlooks the harbour
  • It is the tallest building on Karbonkelberg
  • It’s currently listed as a wedding venue (with photograph galleries) by SAWeddings
  • Many windows feature stained glass panels

Hout Bay Castle stained glass

  • The Castle features dragons, bridges & gargoyles

Lichtenstein Hout Bay GargoylesLi

Trivia – Lichtenstein Castle, Hout Bay

This building has been described as a folly, but there is little doubt that it was built originally to serve as a secluded family home. (I would happily call it Ilona’s Folly if she wasn’t so sensible & I couldn’t be sued) Everything changes, and it will be interesting to see what happens in the future.

Looking costs nothing, and although the estate is privately owned, hopefully planning laws to protect the area will restrict any future use for anything that might attract more traffic. Walkers in the area can often get a closer view, just a friendly warning  – Hands off the dragons!

Folly, fantasy castle, curiosity or family home – This is a hidden gem for those appreciating a stroll down the road less travelled. Who knows? You might even spot it on the silver screen one day.

A lot of things had to happen for dragons to manifest in South Africa. I am miles away, across oceans & on Mud Island. I saw pics of this castle that captured my interest & asked if I could post them on this blog. As fate/Ilona/magic/co-incidence/liquorice works, Ilona knew who to ask. 

The photographer, Paul Watson,  cheerily agreed that I could use his photographs as long as I do not make money out of them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Me? Make money? I am far too busy following follies for that.

A few more pics from Paul Watson’s collection. They were taken during a refurbishment. Others can be found on other sites showing the end result, but I think these seem somehow more intimate.

 

Lichtenstein Castle South Africa

Hout Bay Castle stained glass

Attributes & credits: Photographs are all copyright Paul Watson, except for the photo of Lichtenstein Castle in Germany att: Roman Eisele CC BY-SA 3.0

Sources :  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lichtenstein_Castle_(W%C3%BCrttemberg), http://westcapenews.com/?p=5116, https://www.news24.com/Archives/City-Press/Spooky-castle-gets-new-owner-20150429, http://www.houtbay.org/2011/07/hout-bays-most-famous-landmark-lichtenstein-castle.html,

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