Hello people, I am back! Today, I’m gonna be writing about the small town that in which I currently live: Schwetzingen. You may have never heard of it, I’d be surprised if you have-unless you live nearby. I live here because it is at a convenient distance both to Heidelberg and Mannheim. Though I wanted to live peacefully in a small town after living in Istanbul, I also didn’t want to be secluded and far away from anything interesting. What is curious is that I thought Schwetzingen was an ugly, small, boring place when I first heard that it has an industrial park. And boy I was wrong.
As you can see on the map, Schwetzingen lies in the southern region of Germany, and hence we have a milder, warmer climate here when compared to rest of the country.
This is why there are fields surrounding the town, almost acting as a border between it and the other surrounding townlings. I figured that they generally produce asparagus, which is the symbol of the town quite interestingly. However, the most interesting thing about the town is its castle and history that goes way back. According to its Rathaus, Schwetzingen was mentioned as “Suezzingen” back in 700s, but is actually believed to have existed during Stone Age. Hence the architectural style of the town and the castle reflects the progressing eras; you can see the Roman, Turkish and English influences in the castle gardens, as well as expansion of the main building according to need. By need, I am talking of rich aristocratic German dudes, who were not satisfied with a hunting castle in the middle of practically nowhere and decided to add more glam to their lives. This is clearly reflected in the vastness of the garden and the number of statues. However, I haven’t been inside the castle itself, as currently they are off season and have tours only in German and on weekends.
So this is the centre of the town, just across the little train station. [Although it is pretty small, thanks to the numerous tourists visiting every summer, there is good public transportation to both Mannheim and Karlsruhe.] The street continues up to the castle and then you can either take a left or a right; they both go around the town making a loop. What surprised and fascinated me most was the size of the castle. It can be seen anywhere, but especially the long road that continues down to Plankstadt gives you a fantastic view even from afar. Landscaping is also very prominent and important in Schwetzingen, these trees are taken care of regularly and meticulously and that adds to the charm of the place. Since we are in winter right now, there are not any leaves on them yet they hung Christmas lights on the trees you can see on the left hand side of the street. They look lonely and barren, yet cheery at the same time.
This is the castle, and you can see the silhouette of a fountain in the back. That is the starting point of the gardens. You really cannot fathom its size from outside since the structures obscure it. It was mid October when I first arrived and the weather was nice enough. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to check out the gardens until in November and at the time all the statues were put away as a means of protection, leaves had fallen down and the garden had lost its spectacular beauty. Although I love autumn colours in nature, from what I’ve heard, the gardens look amazing in spring when the flowers bloom and everything becomes very colourful and alive. I’ll definitely go and visit the garden again in spring and summer to see for myself if the rumours are true.
I took this photo previous sunday, when it suddenly started snowing. It didn’t stay on long, but I had to chance to walk around long enough to capture the essence of winter in Schwetzingen and it is more magical than it looks. I have never experienced Christmas before with its trees and markets, and the snow was cherry on top. A choir was singing Christmas carols, people were drinking mulled wine and chatting. The snow made things cosier.
This is what the castle looks like at nights. The colour reflects Christmas, as the Christmas market continues from the town square into the castle’s entrance. It would have been amazing to put up a big tree in the back garden that can bee seen from the entrance gates, but both Schwetzingen and Heidelberg are very nature conscious when it comes to their usage of electricity in hangings and ornaments. Still, the red colour changes the atmosphere.
This is the courtyard. You can see the little tents that sell various different handmade stuff; from lights to candles. I had to get some hot chocolate and take in the happiness oozing from people around.
This is the orangery of the castle. There were swans swimming in the pond just outside its central doors. The thing about the castle gardens is that everything is meticulously done and taken care of, it almost feels unnatural. All the ponds in there seemed to be human made, just for the sake of aesthetics. They had built an arboretum inside the forest area. So they juxtaposed the tamed, domesticated nature with natural forest-which was controlled as well but you know what I mean-and it had a beautiful effect.
Not only two very different nature meet, but also they have other structures scattered around the garden. There are three temples for Apollo, Mercury and Minerva and a mosque. I found it very interesting for them to have built a mosque in a small town, but it was never intended for prayer and religious rituals but was built under the Ottoman influence in the 18th century. What is curious is that the architecture of the mosque does not resemble that of Turkish but rather of Middle Eastern.
I want to finish my post with a photo of the Rathaus and the little Christmas tree as tis the season. But what I can say about Schwetzingen is that, although it is pretty small, it is a nice town to visit. If you want to stay at a historical place but see other cities as well, I’d highly recommend Schwetzingen. You can both visit Mannheim and Heidelberg quite easily by bus or train and experience even more history (in Heidelberg), city life (in Mannheim) and busy social life.