Brühl is castle-riffic. Prepare to be wowed by the rococo of Castle Augustusburg, the baroque churches and the grandeur of the French styled gardens. Close to Cologne, Brühl is easily accessible by train, thanks to the King of Prussia, who wanted a station built as close as possible to his residence in the castle.
Schloss Augustusburg – Castle Augustusburg
This is a great castle, no doubt about it. Entrance is only available with a guided tour. English tours are available, but you may want to call ahead. I was given a choice between an English or German tour, and both were with school groups. The staff was very accommodating, and I even saw people with printed information and headphones, meaning that you will get a tour even if your language isn’t being offered at the time you arrive.
Inside the castle is breathtaking, especially the main foyer complete with a fabulous fresco on the ceiling and much “marble”. The tour guides admitted that much of the marble was painted to look like marble, but that doesn’t take away from the effect of majesty from the grand entrance or any of the other rooms. Always of interest are the stories of how people lived back in the 1700s, especially those about their bathing habits. The tour guide made the journey through the castle engaging, and there was much amusement among the youngsters on my tour to find the secret door in the castle, which we were allowed to walk through.
If you have good walking legs, then take a trip through the forest all the way to Castle Falkenlust, the second castle in town. The path is quite beautiful, but it’s about a 30 minute walk at a good clip.
The gardens immediately surrounding Castle Augustusburg are wonderfully maintained. There are reflecting pools, topiaries and wonderful designs made with hedges and trees. It is free to walk around the grounds of the castles, and I can think of no nicer place to spend a beautiful day.
While the castles are definitely the highlight of Brühl, the town itself is also quite pleasant. There are many little boutiques selling wines and gourmet foods. There are also quite a few cafes and pastry shops. There are a number of historic homes listed on the city walking tour, most of which are along Kölnstraße and the vicinity, and all are well labelled and easy to find. Apparently, Brühl was the place to be for important people from Cologne during the 1800s.
There are two beautiful historic churches in Brühl, St. Maria von den Engeln and St. Margareta. Both are located in the inner city and both have good interiors. St. Maria von den Engeln has a wonderful baroque altar. St. Margareta is a little less golden inside, but has a comfortable charm.
The Jewish Cemetery – The Jewish Memorial
Just north of the city, on the corner of Kölnstraße and Schildgesstraße is the old Jewish cemetery. The entrance is on Schildgesstraße. Some of the gravestones are very old and not legible anymore. Others date back to just before WWII and have writing in both Hebrew and German. This cemetery is not pristinely maintained like other German cemeteries, but the grass is cut and access to the antique looking stones is maintained.
The Jewish memorial is located on A. d. Synagogue Straße – which is the northern extension of Wallstraße. This is a rather sizable memorial compared to other towns, which usually just have a plaque on the location of the destroyed synagogue. It is also rather more informative than a plaque, with bronze writings of historical significance.
For my next trip: The Max Ernst Museum
How to get there: Just 14 minutes from Cologne and 13 minutes from Bonn. This is like a luxury getaway from two fabulous cities in Nordrhein Westfalen! Regional trains leave from both cities 2-3x hourly.
Great things: The castles, the gardens and the charming ambience of the city.
Date of visit: October 16, 2007
Brühl website: www.bruehl.de