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July 2004

High Time

If you've never visited Seefeld Castle, located on a hillside near Ammersee, this summer is the time to go

Slow death by excursion—how many of you reading this article have not felt themselves on the brink of such a fate? Planned by well-meaning parents or friends, it involves taking a trip to a place praised by the initiators as “very interesting” or, worse still, “really incredible.” Generally a rural destination of mind-numbing dullness—a badly signposted trek through a nature reserve, say, or a tour of a musty historic building featuring dusty showcases full of old ironware—it brings on the kind of mental and physical inertia experienced by coma patients.

Still, Saturday and Sunday afternoons somehow demand to be filled with activity, which begs the question: is there any place, near or far, where old and young can find something interesting to do on a weekend afternoon? And the answer is a resounding YES. Majestic-looking Seefeld Castle (, perched on a rocky outcrop just east of Pilsensee (Wörthsee and Ammersee are also close by), offers both the commercial sophistication of Munich and the historic ambience of pastoral Bavaria. Where else can you find classy shops, a great little cinema, an excellent restaurant, a constantly changing program of cultural events, great lakes for bathing and a historic walking route all within a short distance?

Seefeld Castle, first mentioned in local archives in 1302, has been in the hands of the Toerring-Jettenbach family since the 15th century. Despite five centuries of extensions and modifications, the castle more or less retains the appearance of a fortress—an impression that is enhanced by the approach over a high bridge. The stone gatehouse to the first courtyard, the Wirtschaftshof (literally the “commercial courtyard”) and the buildings on two sides of this square, where many of the shops, the cinema and the restaurant are located, are in a restrained Baroque style. Beyond this, separated by another bridge, lies the castle. Shopaholics will be in their element in the Wirtschaftshof while inspecting the boutiques and interior shops, two of which are housed in the aforementioned gatehouse, once the castle jail, while those less inclined to make purchases can, after perhaps collecting the program of the Breitwand cinema, settle down to lunch/coffee and cakes/snacks at the Bräustüberl opposite (see the December/January 03/04 issue of MUNICH FOUND for a description of the restaurant). The cinema generally features two films (at the time of going to press Troy was showing alongside the German movie Unter der Sonne der Toskana) and the current program can be found at The organizers of Breitwand, who also run cinemas in Herrsching and Starnberg, celebrated Breitwand’s 18th birthday party at Seefeld Castle on June 25 beginning at 8 pm, and from July 22 to August 8 there will be open-air cinema events at the same location. Details can be found at the Website given above.

Anyone who likes to earn their pleasures may want to approach the castle on foot from Herrsching by walking either the approximately 4 km from Herrsching S-Bahn station or the longer route, about 8 km, from Andechs Monastery. This pleasant hike, part of which is along the famous König-Ludwig-Weg, is more or less foolproof for those with no natural navigational skills. If you’re nervous about it, though, it might be worth investing in an inexpensive map like the one issued by Alpen-Verlag: “München, Ammersee und Umgebung” available at larger bookstores. An added bonus of owning the map is that you can see the proximity of Pilsensee—a 10- to 15-minute walk away from the castle—Wörthsee and Ammersee, all of which have excellent bathing facilities.

The castle’s incumbent owner, Count Hans C. zu Toerring-Jettenbach, has not opened his ancestral home to tourists. You can, however, gain access to part of the buildings by visiting a branch of the Egyptian Museum Munich housed in the building. For details of current exhibitions see Children with a good grasp of German may like to borrow one of the special backpacks available at the admissions desk, containing information on a discovery tour of the museum.

As mentioned before, Seefeld Castle also has a year-round program of cultural events. Cabaret and theater will be of little interest to those of you who are not fluent in German, but the diversity and quality of the musical events on offer is more than adequate compensation. From January to June the program featured, among other things, tango music, an evening of classical music by Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert, a chamber concert with the Munich Philharmonic for children and adults, a concert of gypsy music and a soiree of dance jazz. If this has whet your appetite, go to for an updated list of events. If you are not inclined to pursue any of the activities mentioned above and just want to have a wander around, don’t forget to walk along the south side of the castle—behind the cinema—where one of the loveliest vistas in Bavaria will be laid out before you. To the right a series of elegant arches gives the otherwise forbidding castle an almost Italianate feel and below, enclosed by small hills, is a green, perfectly tended garden with a small lake. It’s really incredible.

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