The participants of this Workcamp will help in the conservation of the castle. Thus, the volunteers will do some works from repairing the small wooden bridge to restore the doors and windows. Another task will be to help in the restoration of the stone walls which are surrounding the ensemble. Additionally, the participants will clear up different parts of the ensemble and take care of the green area around by cutting grass and cleaning the ditch, which was previously part of the defensive system around the former water fortress.
simple conditions, shared rooms with beds, warm showers and toilets
Ollendorf is situated between Erfurt, capital of Thuringia, and Weimar. The small village is surrounded by a beautiful countryside. Ollendorf Water Castle was probably built in the 13th century as a protective fort at the “via regia”. The “via regia” was the most important medieval trading route which ran from Flanders via Frankfurt and Leipzig to Russia. In 1692 the castle had been destroyed by a fire and only the foundations could remain. The current manor house was built in 1694 in a simple rural baroque style, replacing the former castle. Following the decline of the “via regia” in the 19th century, the site was later used for agricultural purposes, and store houses and barns were built. During the last decades, due to long vacancy, the manor fell into disrepair. Since several years Open Houses is active at the Water Castle and could save it from falling apart. Many works has been done since then, both focusing on the restoration of the historical complex and the renaturation of the castle’s surroundings. Due to the young people from different countries, who have lived there and have taken part in its restoration during the last years, the castle changed into a place of creativity and open-mindedness. Ollendorf is a good place to start excursions to important historical and cultural places like Weimar and Erfurt which are not far from the village.
The camp places are mostly situated in small villages in rural areas, so the participants should not expect busy places and normal city activities for the leisure time during the working days. Small trips in walking distance are possible in the afternoon. On the weekends it is possible to organise an excursion to nearby cities or to have other leisure activities.
The history of Open Houses Network dates back to the mid-1980s, when a group of young people started to restore village churches in East Germany in voluntary work to protect them from decay. The engagement for these buildings united people who enjoyed the freedom these activities provided and who filled these rooms with life again in ways which by far exceed the craftsmen’s work done – through exhibitions, concerts, making music together or just sitting by the camp fire.
Meanwhile, rooms free of political and ideological pressure are no longer urgently required; however, places have become rare where people can meet without commercial pressure, free of bureaucracy and institutionalism, free of nepotism and the exclusion which it produces. What should be easy – to go somewhere in order to meet people and to work together – has become difficult. The tightrope walk between, on the one hand, public activities in a monetary and functional sense, and the retreat into private life on the other, is very difficult, and it requires a lot of power and permanent efforts to tackle red tape and financial restrictions.
Free spaces are less and less understood as common property, and are permanently being cut back. The idea of public property seems to have gone out of fashion, and places of common responsible work have become rare.
Open Houses Network tries to create and protect such spaces. In this process, we do not want to be the do-ers, but be people who have a vision, who want to initiate something, but who also are aware of depending on the co-operation of others. We understand our projects and events as offers – as offers to create space for commitment, for changes, for meetings.