So the way I would pronounce that is Bay-ruth. The way it's actually pronounced is Bye-roit. Yep still learning. We picked this town because it's a place I've wanted to go and haven't had a chance. We were able to drive out to the Old Eremitage and explore that area pretty well.
We did take a tour of the inside and couldn't take any pictures. The tour is entirely in German but dad's translation was actually really good!! It's been fun to hear him speaking and also nice to have someone who understands everything that's going on since I still really . . . don't. The Hermitage was owned by Margrave Frederick and Margravine Wilhelmina who was the sister of Frederick the Great. According to Wikipedia (reliable source I know!), a Margrave was a military commander who was assigned to the defense of a border province of the Holy Roman Empire. They are in rank about the same as a Marquess and above a Count. The tour indicated that Wilhelmina felt like she was in exile at the Hermitage and it is out away from other things -- especially in the mid-1700s where transportation is all horse and carriage.
When you entered the Hermitage you had to cleanse yourself. So you started in this amazing room that was entirely decorated in rock and shells. The sculptures and frescoes and everything. There was a series of fountains that sprayed so that you could physically cleanse yourself. Our tour guide turned on the waterworks for us and it was really cool! Probably William's favorite part and definitely a water show I want to take the kids to!
From there you walked into a courtyard with men's and women's rooms where you were required to meditate in order to cleanse yourself mentally and then you could enter the Hermitage. Like a lot of palaces and places, there were women's rooms and men's rooms with the decor matching the decorator. Wilhelmina's rooms were dedicated to paintings of strong women, her friends, music and art, and even had her favorite dog in one of the ceiling paintings depicting Troy.
After our wonderful tour (and it really was neat), we wandered the grounds and watched the fountains at work and explored the different nooks and crannies. The Sun Temple is particularly beautiful not only for how it looks as a whole but because when you get up close you can see that ALL the design is made with colored rocks. Not flat squares like a mosaic but actual rocks of the type that are that color.
Even the windows are not actual glass here but that rock
I've been seeing a lot of statues lately of men carrying women off . . . I wonder if that's a reflection of how Wilhelmina felt?
The dragon grotto was a little hidden gem. I don't know if the water here is a natural spring or piped in. In order to get the water pressure for the fountains on the grounds and in the Hermitage, they built 2 big water towers on the grounds. This is in the 1700s which is just crazy to me! We always think of these places as having no plumbing of any kind but they figured out a way. There were 200 spigots in the fountain room.
This is the back of the Hermitage. From the front it looks kind've like a typical but slightly boring building. It wasn't nearly as beautiful as the sun temple with the rocks. Then you go around to the back and you have all this cave or grotto rock or whatever it is attached and the house looks like two different things stuck together. It's also fairly small.
Crazy faces on the wall.
The grounds were filled with very manicured gardens where the walls were made of trees that were trimmed bald on one side and close on the other to look like they were hedges. A lot of work has gone into this place!
The lower fountains
The fountains run every hour and we watched the upper fountains do their thing. It was very pretty!
When we left the Hermitage we wanted to go into the city. Bayreuth has two other palaces in the city I think and an opera house that is supposed to be fantastic but when we tried to go into the city and see the New Castle, a road was closed and my GPS couldn't get us around it. Since I didn't know the city and there were kids EVERYWHERE walking and biking home from school, we called it an early day and went home. But the Old Eremitage is wonderful and has beautiful grounds. It's also free unless you take a tour of the inside and I can see us making a trip out there every now and then to just enjoy the gardens and fountains and have a picnic lunch this summer!