I’m a sucker for scenic castles and the legends that entail them, and Germany is full of them, 20,000 castles to be precise, and I’m still counting the legends. When I learnt that there was a stunning castle just 100 km from Hamburg, I mentally packed my backpack, filled my water bottle and started looking at the map. Thus, one fine spring morning, we set off on a day trip to Schwerin, picturesque hometown of the renowned Schwerin castle.
Sitting pretty on an island in Schwerin lake, surrounded by one of the most significant Baroque gardens of Germany, the golden-domed castle is a sight to behold. There is barely an article on German castles to visit without a mention of Schwerin castle in it. It also played a part in the movie, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
The history of the Schwerin castle, also called Schwerin palace, as it began as a castle and then metamorphosed into a palace, dates back to AD 942. With 652 rooms including a throne room, many dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg called it home for centuries. As the grand dukes’ reign concluded in 1918, the state took over the castle. Which means no one currently resides here except a ghost named Peter, and he was my main interest.
The Legend of Little Peter
Like always, there are many versions of the legend, but, here’s my favourite version.
Petermännchen (little Peter) is a good-natured ghost who lives in the cellar vaults of the castle. He is the keeper of the castle and carries a lantern, sword, and a bunch of keys and unlocks the doors as he walks past them. The little ghost rewards the good and honest and plays pranks and punishes the thieves. He wakes up the sleeping soldiers during their night-watch and saves them from punishments. Petermännchen also likes to dress appropriately for events. He is in grey most of the time, but when there is a war going on, he dons red attire, and black, when someone dies.
It turns out, Peter was a servant of a Pagan god. When Christianity first came to the region, the Pagan god fled Schwerin leaving behind his servants, the spirits or ghosts. Eventually, Peter’s fellow ghosts also left the region whilst he decided to stay.
What a nice little ghost, Petermännchen. Methinks, we could do with many more little Peters around us.
- Closest cities and day trips from Schwerin include Hamburg, Luebeck, Lueneburg and Rostock.
- Explore the castle museum which includes throne rooms, living rooms, reception rooms, the weapons collection and porcelain collection.
- Go for a wander around the beautiful Schwerin palace garden (Schlossgarten) surrounding the castle flaunting one of a kind orangery, sculptures, flower gardens, and lakes.
- Visit the old town
- walk around the market square,
- admire the medieval architecture made of timber framework,
- take a tour inside the Gothic cathedral.
- Click here for more information on opening timings and admission fee to plan your day trip to Schwerin Castle.