Stimulus a boon for Germany's crumbling castles

Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:50am EDT
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By Caroline Copley

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Dozens of crumbling German castles are getting a makeover thanks to cash from the government's economic stimulus package.

The government made 150 million euros ($213 million) available for the preservation of UNESCO World Heritage sites last year and earmarked an extra 20 million euros for the restoration of historical buildings in a stimulus plan agreed in January.

"We're happy. This is a positive development," said Gerhard Wagner, Secretary-General of the German Castles association. "Repair work we might only have got round to in 20 years can now be done in the next five."

From the Baltic Sea to Bavaria, government grants are helping to spruce up ancient properties.

About 14 million euros in total has been awarded to projects up and down the Rhine Valley, where more than 40 fortifications overlook the mighty river.

The 13th century Marksburg Castle is one of many to have benefited from the extra cash, receiving a grant of 700,000 euros to carry out vital renovation work.

Nearby bastions, the medieval Burg Eltz and the Palladian Schloss Malberg, nestled in the hills above the Mosel river, were each granted about one million euros.

Work is already underway to stabilize a 40 meter high tower at risk of collapse with iron anchors at Burg Eltz and Malberg is about to restore its vast roofs and walls.   Continued...

<p>A general view shows the Orangery at the park of Sanssouci Palace in the eastern German city of Potsdam July 2, 2006. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann</p>