Image from Wikipedia
I took a day trip out to Colditz Castle with a friend who was visiting from the UK in December 2017. Situated in the town of Colditz, about an hour from Leipzig, I’d heard of the castle because of its use a prison during the second world war, and the films about that time involving the castle. Apart from that though, I didn’t know much of its history.
We arrived at about 10:30 in the morning and the place was deserted. We hadn’t checked if it was open, or if there were tours running. Fortunately for us, it was open, but there was no one else about! We parked up and walked into the castle and wondered about before finding the entrance to the gift shop, which to be honest wasn’t immediately apparent that that was where this particular door took us
Once inside, we met a nice man sitting at the desk who asked us if we were Ian. Strange! We replied no, and asked for a ticket for a tour, only to be informed that from October-March tours are by appointment only. However, it turns out that there was a group of two people (Ian) who had booked a tour, and if we didn’t mind waiting for 10 mins, we were welcome to join that tour. Erm, yep, 10 minutes is fine! We handed over out 18EUR and had a chat.
Once Ian had arrived, who had come with his wife from the UK, we set about our tour of the castle guided by the incredible Steffi.
You enter the castle grounds through this archway. It’s quite a small place and I wondered how many prisoners it could have held at a time. Knowing nothing of its history, I had no idea.
Steffi was a fantastic guide and knew the history of the place like she’d lived there her whole life. It turns out that during the war it held Officers only from various allied countries who had managed to escape from other prison camps. Colditz, given its position on the top of a hill, was considered escape proof, so troublesome Officers were sent here.
There is a small courtyard in the centre and the prisoners were housed in various buildings looking over it.
I didn’t take many photos throughout the tour as I was engrossed in the way Steffi brought the place to life with the stories of the castle, it’s history and the tales of the escape attempts made during its time as a prison. I have been on my fair share of tours in the past, but I have to say that Steffi really is the best tour guide I’ve ever met. Her knowledge and enthusiasm were enthralling and walking around her descriptions really felt like I was watching a movie!
Colditz is a fascinating place, and I really don’t want to give too much away as I think you should pay it a visit and learn all about it first hand from Steffi or one of the other guides.
There is one story I must hint at though, as it is just incredible.
The British Officers held at the Castle had the idea to build an aeroplane to escape. I’d never heard this story, but Steffi assured me it was true. She went on to explain that they built the plane by hand in the loft of the castle over a period of many many months and remained undetected by their German captors!
They researched how to build plane through books, and built it out of wood and cloth. The worked tirelessly under the cover of darkness and managed to get the plane built and ready to fly. It really is unbelievable.
For the full story, I would say you have to visit to find out what happens if you don’t know all ready. But I will say that although the original plane was destroyed after the war, they have a full-scale replica of it in position at the top of the castle, and it is really something
If you get the opportunity, Colditz Castle really is a must see.
I loved it!