Marienburg Castle, the seat of Germany's oldest noble dynasty, is located just 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of Hanover, in Nordstemmen. Prince Ernst August of Hanover and family have opened the building to visitors.
The castle was a king's birthday gift to his wife
The Hanover family made headlines in October when they auctioned off around 20,000 objects from their neo-gothic castle. Masses of people made their way to Nordstemmen to take part in the 10-day long event that brought the family 44 million euros ($53 million). Ernst August's sons, both in their 20s, who now own the family seat, have spent a portion of the auction proceeds on renovating the castle.
"We want to make the Marienburg into a tourism highlight in northern Germany," said castle administrator Mauritz von Reden. He is hopeful that 60,000 people will visit the castle this year, 15,000 more than in past years.
Attention royal watchers
Since April 8, visitors have had the opportunity to get a sense of a 19th century noble family's life in the Marienburg museum. They can explore previously inaccessible rooms with priceless furniture, paintings and uniforms. Royal watchers can put a visit down to background research. After all, Hanover family head Ernst August is married to Princess Caroline of Monaco and was once 450th in line to assume the British throne.
The castle's former stalls are being turned into a café, which is expected to start business by June, and a series of classical music concerts is planned for September. Individuals can rent rooms for private parties, and the castle chapel has already been booked for 20 weddings in the coming months. Ernst August married his first wife there in 1981.
Cosy on a cold winter's night
King George V of Hanover (1819-1878) commissioned architects Conrad Wilhelm Hase and Edwin Oppler to design the castle, which was built in 1860 as a birthday present for his wife, Princess Marie (1818-1907). The couple used it as their summer residence.