You might never have added Ballenstedt in Saxony-Anhalt to your sightseeing itinerary if you hadn’t heard of Uta.
Uta was a duchess who lived in Ballenstedt a thousand years ago, and was the “model” for Disney’s evil queen from Snow White.
Uta of Ballenstedt (then Uta of Naumberg) wasn’t evil, I assure you. She was a great benefactor to the church, leaving her entire estate to them after dying childless in 1046. The money she left went on to build Naumberg Cathedral, where you can see a life-size likeness of her.
The castle she lived in still stands today, and is one of the town’s most visited sites. A few of Ballenstedt’s guided tours make specific stops at the castle, and one is totally dedicated to it including its crypts.
Most people know the schloss as the final resting place of Albert the Bear (the 1st Margrave of Brandenburg & and Duke of Saxony), but I like to tell Uta’s story. She came first — Albert didn’t come along for almost a hundred years after her.
Why not discuss both of these famous residents at the castle’s restaurant or at one of the outside cafes in town?
There’s another castle in Ballenstedt, but Roseburg is only meant to look like a medieval burg — it was built in the early 20th century.
Sorry, for the true medieval you gotta stick to Schloss Ballenstedt, the town’s fortification walls, and the church of St. Nicholas. OK, maybe the last one isn’t technically medieval since it had to be rebuilt in 1501 after the original from the 1320’s burned down. Still, I’m throwing it out there as such. ;-)
Make sure you leave time enough to see the Bismarck Tower, the Anhalt milestone markers, the old Jewish cemetery, the Soviet cemetery, and the World War I Memorial (at the Brauberg) while you’re here, OK?
I really enjoyed Ballenstedt, and I think you will too. The place (and Uta) is a story for the ages, isn’t it?