As a native of Upper Franconia, he got to know and appreciate Plassenburg Castle in his youth. Today, decades later, as a scientist recognized far beyond the region, Herbert Popp follows the discussion about the development of the castle with great astonishment and concern. And he has a clear opinion on the route through the Buchwald forest favored by the palace administration: “Very problematic!”
It would be very problematic to steer tourist buses through the old town and over Spiegel and Wolfskehle to Leithen. It would also be very problematic to build a three-kilometer-long road through the middle of the forest. “The whole of Kulmbach would have to be vehemently against it.” He is also surprised that the castle administration behaves in such detail as an institution for urban development planning. He emphasizes that he does not believe that he can offer the ideal solution. But he could hopefully provide food for thought and promote discussion.
Popp has a clear favorite regarding the development of the castle for cultural tourism: “A cable car from Grunwehr/Schwedensteg to Plassenburg would be the most compatible solution.” There would be parking spaces in the Weibmain valley. And there would be the museums in the Monchshof. “This can be combined wonderfully.” And this solution would be extremely compatible with the cityscape.
Instead of a cable car, the scientist also considers an elevator inside the castle hill near the parking lot to be conceivable. “The red sandstone would be suitable; geological complications would not have to be feared.” If the top station of such an elevator were to be built outside the actual castle grounds, for example on the former riding grounds, and designed in an architecturally appealing way, this could even be a tourist magnet.
The way from such a mountain station to the barracks yard would be even and easy to master on foot. In addition, for example, small electric scooters could be made available for people for whom the walk is too arduous. “There is no need to direct masses of buses to the castle hill.”
According to Popp, the real problem for the declining visitor numbers in parts of the museums at Plassenburg Castle is not only the question of access. “Here a valuable cultural monument and a jewel of the castle landscape is sold under value”, he says. “We are dealing here with a unique historical object, a fortress that was only partially destroyed by Napoleon. Everything should be done to make this fortress experienceable for the visitors.” In other words: The Plassenburg as an outstanding object of the national cultural heritage could be much more enhanced and presented to the visitors, both in terms of knowledge and experience.
According to Popp, this includes, among other things, opening up not only the high and low castles for cultural tourism, but also the remains of the Small and Great Bastion, as well as the Long Battery and the Red Tower east of the high castle.
What he misses, according to the scientist, is a clear position of the city of Kulmbach, which must necessarily be at the beginning of any discussion. “Does the city of Kulmbach want to strengthen city tourism at all?? Does it want to develop and present the Plassenburg as a highlight of a cultural heritage tourism – of course while respecting aspects of monument protection and sustainability in traffic and interventions in the natural and cultural environment?”
If these questions cannot be answered unambiguously in the affirmative, everything else is a waste of love, says the expert – who cannot hide a certain pessimism as far as the relationship between the municipalities and the palace administration is concerned: “The trenches have already been dug here. It will be difficult to fill it up again.”
About the person
Herbert Popp The 73-year-old was born in Bayreuth, attended grammar school in his hometown and passed his school-leaving exams. After studying geography, obtaining his doctorate and habilitation at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, he worked first as an assistant and then as a professor of geography at the Universities of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Passau (1985-1994) and the Technical University of Munich (1994-1999) before being appointed to the University of Bayreuth in 1999, where he held the chair of urban geography and rural geography. In Bayreuth he was emeritus in 2012.
Among his works is “Bayreuth – rediscovered”. An urban geography excursion guide “