Kaiser Wilhelm and his bad taste in castles.

Earlier this year, I made an important discovery: Kaiser Wilhelm I had really bad taste, I mean, really bad taste. Schloss Babelsberg, his grotesque summer residence just outside Berlin, is a perfect example of why you won’t find a Wilhelm I chair or ottoman or whatever in any fine antiques store, there’s Louis XV and XVI, there’s even Louis XIII if you don’t care for clichés, there’s Queen Anne, Empire, which is basically Napoleon, everything Victorian, there’s been a lot done in Victorian style, she reigned so very long, then there’s Louis Philippe, George III, the Swedes have their Gustaf, the Austrians have Joseph II and the Americans got their colonial style, I think the colonies belonged mostly to these Georges on the British throne, so it’s safe to say it’s Georgian style, but Wilhelm I? Forgotten with an effort. As if he had never lived. One must know, however, that this particular catastrophy’s architect was none other than Karl Friedrich Schinkel, Biedermeier’s Norman Foster, one of the best Germany has ever had, at least at the beginning, in the early 1830s, when they started construction. Later, after Prince Wilhelm was declared Crown Prince and to inherit Prussia’s throne, his brother’s marriage had remained childless, the budget was increased, allowing them to put more effort in it, demanded especially by Wilhelm’s wife Augusta, she needed even more Gothic bling, for some strange reason everything Gothic was fashionable at the time, an effort that Karl Friedrich Schinkel’s health did not agree with, he died during the planning of the extensions in 1841. Just take a look at it, you’ll understand.

A Gothic walk.

All of a sudden, at exactly 12:12, the sun came out and took me by surprise on my walk through the romantic ruins of Babelsberg Park. I had rather been in some kind of gothic mood, as if I were stumbling not through the underwood of one of Berlin’s recreational areas, but through a novel by Mary Shelley or one of the Brontë girls, my mind somewhat befogged, exposed to wind and rain, all alone, with no soul in sight, abandoned, deserted and lonely, but what can one expect on a weekday, forcing my way home to a warm fire and hot cocoa, getting rid of my heavy boots, formerly known as New Balance sneakers, weighted down with mud, as I had made it through these wuthering heights’ frightful woods, my way had led me far from the madding crowd and paved grounds, and then, just I had reached a street, right in the middle of nowhere, bright sunlight, a blue sky, blue! I hadn’t seen a blue sky for ages! But hell, what a disappointment, with all that blue sky, Misses Brontë and Shelley were no longer with me in my twisted brain, their influence on my imagination was gone, dissolved, my mind was thrown back into reality, ever so harshly, all those kilometers through the woods had just brought me back to the place where I started: to the entrance gate of Babelsberg Park. But that’s the trouble with any tour, isn’t it?