While in France we visited the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle, a 15th century fortress, and a beautiful blend of French and German styling.
It is set high atop a hill in the Vosges mountains, and it has a commanding view of the surrounding Alsatian countryside and even the Black Forest region of Germany. Throughout history the castle has served as both a French and German stronghold, but in 1899 it was given to Kaiser Wilhelm II von Hohenzollern, who set out to restore the castle to his ideal of what a German castle from the middle ages might have looked like.
As we wandered around the castle, trying to imagine what life must have been like way back then, I couldn't help but look up and take in the beautiful artwork and intricate woodwork that filled nearly every ceiling.
The walls were also adorned with interesting objects like the antlers pictured above as well as artwork.
In this room a carved dragon held court, hanging beneath a beautiful wood and plaster ceiling.
It was very dark in the castle, and not a good place to use a tripod, so some of the images are a little grainy but they still convey the beautiful and masterful artwork found on the ceilings and walls of the castle.
The colors still remain vibrant and look as if they were applied just months ago, and not hundreds of years ago.
My favorite room was the main dining hall which had an intricately painted ceiling. It must have been magnificent to dine under that gilded ceiling when the chandeliers would have illuminated it with candlelight.
In the fall issue of Romantic Country I wrote an article about a guest house in Napa where the homeowner had commissioned an artist to paint the walls and ceilings of her French inspired kitchen. It truly made a statement and was beautiful to look at.
After visiting Haut-Koenigsbourg castle I began to wonder when it was that painting ceilings fell out of fashion? Rarely do we see hand painted ceilings in decor anymore, yet they truly can add a whole new dimension to a room's style and decor. Maybe it has become too expensive to create works of art on a ceiling, or maybe we have just forgotten to look up. Somehow I hope the trend will find it's way back in, so that hundreds of years from now people can tour a home and marvel at the craftsmanship and artistry of the time, and not just gaze up to find a blank canvas.