The nice thing about not booking campsites is finding lovely sites in interesting places. We were on our way home from Potsdam and Berlin and noticed that there is a campsite in the village of Colditz, just south of Leipzig. The site is located just outside the town, alongside an open-air pool. The owner was very friendly and helpful and there was plenty of room for tourers, unlike some of the sites we’ve stayed at in Germany. The toilet block was clean but showers were extra so we used our own – anything to save money! The owner also cooks in his café, so if you don’t fancy cooking you can try his out.
The club Europe guide said that it is a 30 minute walk to the castle and it was, on a footpath through a pretty forest which was originally the castle game reserve. Luckily you come to the top of the hill, just by the castle, so no long climbing up the hill is needed. We knew, from reading the leaflet given to us by the campsite owner, that there are 3 extended tours a day so we got there in time for the 10.30 one. Our guide was German, but spoke perfect English as her family had moved to Britain during the communist era, and she knew her subject inside out. For 2 ¼ hours we were fascinated as we explored the castle, learning about the many escape attempts – those successful ones were known as “home runs”! The British prisoners were the most “active” with over 100 attempts, but the French prisoners had one more successful one than us. We really didn’t think you could think of so many different ways of getting away from the castle and it was lovely when you learnt that the escapee got home or reached a neutral country like Switzerland. In the roof they even constructed a glider, though it never got to fly – until a reconstructed one was flown this March, complete with dummy pilot. It worked perfectly though the original intended landing spot is now a house so they had to crash land early and the dummy’s head came off!
We met a tour party from the UK and several other visitors from Australia, etc – but hardly any Germans. Apparently the German people don’t really visit and even the locals are puzzled as to its popularity and didn’t know that it was a POW camp during the war – the state of Saxony funds the restoration but the money collected from visitors really helps especially with the research and archaeological side of things. Only 2 weeks previously they had found counterfeit German uniforms hidden under a stair and the French tunnel were only found a few years ago. A British film company was in the castle earlier this year, filming a documentary, so watch out for it, we will be!
Photos added are:
1. prisoners parcels box - someone tried o escape in one!
2. The castle from the back gate
3. The clock tower - The French tunnel started from the top of this!
4. The french unnel - was discovered when it was 6 feet from finished.
5. The theatre where prisoners put on plays and concerts - and escaped!