In the Middle Ages, castles were usually fortified buildings meant to survive enemies’ attacks. They were built for royal and noble families to not only be safe, but to reside in too. Often, castles were miniature towns with servants doing the chores, soldiers guarding the castle, and extended family living under the same roof.

Nowadays, we are used to seeing castles that are turned into museums. We can visit them and see how people lived centuries ago, what art they liked, how they decorated the interior, what their daily life looked like. But there are also people who own castles and live in them or rent them to other people.

An Imgur user shared a little bit of her own experience of living in a castle. Yulia lived in a 6460-square-foot (600 square meters) castle in Germany that was built in 1482 and renovated in 1972. Fashion Life got in touch with Yulia and asked a few questions about her experience.

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Meet Yulia, A Cat-Loving Photographer Who Lived In A Medieval Castle In Germany

Image credits: Yulia

Yulia was born in Russia and grew up in Germany. She is a woman with many interests as she studied mechanical engineering, created her own fair-trade marketplace, and before the pandemic started, she had a wedding business. She is now living in Spain, where she is working on a few IT projects and does photography privately.

Life In A Medieval Castle Isn’t As Glamorous As One Could Imagine

Image credits: Yulia

Yulia lived in the castle for two years. She wasn’t the owner of the castle, but it is still amazing that for some time, she could call such an old and historical place her home. So, how did Yulia end up in the castle? Well, she and her husband offered to work on the castle for its owners in exchange for living there. The owners agreed because the castle wasn’t really suitable for living and needed modernization.

When she moved in, the castle was not modernized. There were things that remained the same as they were in the Middle Ages. For example, the inside needed to be kept warm, mainly with wood, and there was no running water. The castle kept its condition untouched through the ages because it survived not only the local wars, but also World War I and World War II, so it didn’t need as much renovating. These features made life in the castle maybe not so glamorous and fairytale-like, but it provided space for Yulia, her husband, and her cats. Also, life in a castle had its own romance for her.

There Were Six Cats Living In The Castle And This Is One Of Them

Image credits: Yulia

Speaking of cats, Yulia has six of them and they lived as royals in the castle, practically having humans as servants. Sometimes the cats went hunting and they could make themselves a feast as there was a forest nearby and a lot of prey to catch. This doesn’t mean that they were not fed; on the contrary, Yulia calls herself a ‘crazy cat fairy’ and jokes that she spends more on the cats’ food than her own.

The Modernization Of The Castle Started In The Kitchen

Image credits: Yulia

The first attempt to modernize the castle to make it more comfortable to live in started in the kitchen, where an oven and a sink were installed. The sink couldn’t be used, but there was a plan to put a pump in a well so there could be running water. Also, the electric stove didn’t work sometimes, so Yulia’s eating habits, as she put it, were “really medieval.”

Yulia said that the “goal was never to really modernize it.” In the two years she and her husband lived there, they fixed smaller things like “windows, doors, large balcony, glass house attached to it on the outside wall, repaired electricity, installed a phone line (as WiFi was needed for some projects we did, etc.), fixed holes around where rodents could easily enter, etc.”

This Is A Wider View Of The Kitchen In The Process Of Renovating It

Image credits: Yulia

Yulia didn’t have enough time to finish her vision and to complete all the projects she had in mind: “We were there sadly not long enough to touch bigger projects as they mostly require a lengthy process with agencies governing over historical monuments.” Now the part of the castle she lived in is used as a hotel for people working remotely.

The Electric Stove Sometimes Didn’t Work, So The Meals Could Be Considered To Be Made As In The Medieval Times

Image credits: Yulia

Yulia Not Only Can Catch A Fish, But Also Prepare It From Start To Finish And She Thanks Being Born In Russia For It

Image credits: Yulia

All The Furniture In The Castle Was Made By Yulia, Including The Kitchen Cabinets

Image credits: Yulia

The furniture in the picture was made by Yulia for her renovation project. She made the kitchen cabinet from plank wood. Another amazing piece of furniture she made is the bed. It weighs 400 kg (882 lb) and it is made from wood.

Image credits: Yulia

Yulia would like other people to not assume that only rich people live in castles. She claims that on the contrary, a minimalistic lifestyle brought her to live in this castle. She thinks that, actually, not a lot of people would be able to survive more than a few nights in the castle she lived in.

The Only Place Cats Hang Out In The Winter–In Front Of The Furnace

Image credits: Yulia

The winters could get quite cold and the only source of warmth was a large furnace where Yulia and her cats would spend their time. The temperature in the house could go as low as 8 degrees Celsius (42 degrees Fahrenheit). Every week, the ashes would pile up to 60 liters. And in the summer, the situation wasn’t a lot better. The temperature in the castle could get as high as 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit). Yulia said that even coming from Russia, getting used to these temperatures in the living room was hard. It was one of the challenges living in a medieval castle, as it cannot be controlled. Another challenging thing was showering and cleaning with cold water. Also, the castle was deep in the forest, so she would encounter uninvited guests, such as various animals.

But Yulia believes that this experience prepared her for her current life and she doesn’t take simple things like running potable water, heat, and electricity for granted. She is grateful to have a roof over her head and as she puts it that “is already 90% of what you need. You get used to the rest.”

Image credits: Yulia

The Castle Has A Toilet, But It Has To Be Flushed With A Bucket Of Water

Image credits: Yulia

The castle has a toilet inside. It is restored and it looks like a wooden chair with an ash tray integrated in the handle. Underneath it, there’s a septic tank. The pull on the side isn’t for flushing; it apparently was used to ring the bell to call a servant that helped to clean up. If you want to flush the toilet now, you need to use a bucket to pour water manually.

Image credits: Yulia

Another interesting part of the castle was this big glass balcony and glass house. The balcony and the glass house were facing the forest, so the residents of the castle could come to enjoy the view. The glass house was built in the 1970s and it is one of Yulia’s favorite parts of the castle. But maybe not at night, because, in Yulia’s experience, if she would choose to sleep in the glass house, it could be scary when it’s dark. She says: “imagine sleeping in a glass cube which was completely see-through from 4 sides in the middle of the deep forest.”

The Inside Of The Glass House Underneath The Glass Balcony

Image credits: Yulia

Image credits: Yulia

Actually, when asked which part of the castle was her favorite, Yulia could not choose: “It was the whole package. From the road you arrived on, to every single room which had its specific charm and features. Sunsets and sunrise. The fact that we actually lived in a castle…”

Image credits: Yulia

Yulia likes everything that has to do with the medieval times and that reflects in her dressing style. She likes to wear very old clothes that look like they belong to a different era.

Image credits: Yulia

The Christmas Tree Was Cut From The Castle Owner’s Forest And The Cats Loved It

Image credits: Yulia

Image credits: Yulia

Yulia would like to give some advice to people who are struggling emotionally to just leave civilization and try to live as our ancestors would: to dedicate more time to yourself. Don’t get pulled into the vicious circle of working for a calm retirement. She thinks that it is easier to do than you would think. Because really, what humans need is “food, water, shelter, love and purpose. This you can achieve very easily and use as a foundation to improve in whichever direction you want.”

If you would like to see more from Yulia, you can check out her Instagram, or a new project she is working on on DesireHive.