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Inner Courtyard - 2
Standing outside the Saalhaus now, and looking across to the south-eastern corner of the courtyard, we see the entrance to the former British quarters:
...and then, slightly right and upwards, the roofs of the buildings we have just looked at; note that you can also see the eastern end of the Hexengang corridor:
Moving slightly to my right, I then took this picture which gives a better view of that top gable end over the former British and Dutch quarters.
To the right of the door in the first picture at the top of this page, you can just make out part of a tall archway. This archway allows the visitor to enter the site of the former prisoners' Canteen [actually more of a shop selling razor blades etc.]; once again, the low buildings forming part of that room are no longer there. If you go in via that archway, you are standing in the Canteen:
The odd-looking wooden frame on the right wall is some sort of electric light cluster - I think that it opens out to form a Christmas tree; if you look at it carefully and employ a little spatial reasoning, you can imagine it. I'm not sure why it's there, though...
During the War, there was a window at the far end of the Canteen. This has now been replaced by a door giving on to the lawned terrace outside.
Standing at the south end of the courtyard and looking roughly northeast, we see the Furstenhaus, where the British and Dutch contingents were housed in the earlier part of the War:
The door in the bottom of the turret leads to the Prominente cells and the Dentist's rooms. Here now is a view of the roofs of this building:
...and now a picture of the building as a whole:
At the north-eastern corner of the courtyard, the Furstenhaus block joins the Kurchenhaus block, which houses the Chapel.
Here are two views of the Chapel from slightly different angles [Right photo credit: Melvyn R. Lawes]:
The French quarters occupied the floors above the Chapel, which itself is two stories high as can be seen from the height of the Chapel windows. The upper half of the Chapel extends effectively to the top of the first floor; the French quarters began at the second-floor level.
This is the Chapel clock tower in a little more detail.
The famous Colditz Glider was built in a walled-off section of the topmost attic above the Chapel, just to the right of the clock tower in this picture.
Here is a close-up of the ornate Chapel door surround, hand-carved from the local porphyry rock:
At the north-western corner of the courtyard, the Chapel joins the Cellar house or Kellarhaus, so called, of course, because this is where the Castle cellars are.
During the War, the Cellar house housed the Parcels Office, the sick bay and the German Regimental Sergeant Major's office, as well as the steps down to the cellars. In addition, the southernmost block of the Cellar house complex also held several solitary confinement cells. On the floors above were the Belgian and Polish quarters. Most of these quarters were taken over by the British contingent when, later in the War, the Germans decided to split up the different nationalities in the Castle and ship them off to other camps. Here is another view of part of the Cellar house:
...and here is the southern gabled section of the Cellarhouse. The solitary cells are the three small windows to the right of the cream-coloured door.
There was also a solitary cell to the left of that door...
Also note the manhole cover - part of the Castle drain system and one of the main escaping targets of the prisoner contingent. The idea was that the drains led out under the courtyard gate, and the prisoners hoped to get out there by using them. However, despite the interest and activity involving these drains, no prisoner ever escaped by using them.
The next picture shows the gate, the Bridge of Sighs and, once again, the Solitary cells. The small triangular roof/attic section to the right of the Bridge of Sighs is the reverse face of the Guardhouse; this becomes the guardhouse itself on the other side of the wall.
And, finally for the inner courtyard, here is a view of the inner courtyard gate, looking out west onto the western rampart outside the Guardhouse.
Note especialy the manhole cover outside the gate; the prisoners had seen that the manhole was there, and hence their conclusion that if they could use the drains system they would be able to get out of the inner yard. On one occasion, a sentry outside the gate heard noises coming from under that manhole cover, and, upon the Germans opening it, they found British tunnellers in there. Although those manhole covers in the Castle are not the original ones that were there during the War, their locations are still related to the drains in a similar manner to how they were placed in the War.
For more pictures of the inner courtyard, visit the previous page.
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