Last Updated on 4th December 2023 by admin
Germany is a land of castles, with an estimated 25,000 of them dotting its landscape. Some are medieval castles that witnessed centuries of wars, others are fairy-tale palaces that inspired Disney movies. Whether you are looking for history, culture, or romance, you will find a castle that suits your taste in Germany.
The history of German castles dates back to the 9th and 10th centuries, when they were built for defensive purposes against invasions by Romans, Vikings and other tribes. These castles reflect the history, culture and art of the different regions and eras of Germany. They are popular tourist attractions that offer visitors a glimpse into the past and the present of this fascinating nation. Here are 10 of the most famous castles in Germany that you should visit.
1) Neuschwanstein Castle
Neuschwanstein Castle is probably the most iconic and famous castle in Germany, and one of the most visited tourist attractions in Europe. It was built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the late 19th century as a personal retreat and a homage to his favorite composer, Richard Wagner.
The castle is perched on a rocky hill above the village of Hohenschwangau, and features a stunning Romanesque Revival architecture with turrets, towers, and frescoes. The interior is equally impressive, with lavish rooms decorated with themes from Wagner’s operas. The castle also offers breathtaking views of the Alps and the surrounding countryside.
- The castle is most famous for its iconic and beautiful design, it is listed among the most famous castles and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.
- Having a stunning Romanesque Revival architecture with turrets, towers, and frescoes, and a lavish interior decorated with themes from Wagner’s operas.
- Offering breathtaking views of the Alps and the surrounding countryside, making in one of the most famous castles in Germany.
- Being a popular destination for freediving because of the depth directly accessible from shore and the lack of current.
- Serving as an inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle.
2) Eltz Castle
Eltz Castle is a hidden gem in the Moselle Valley, surrounded by dense forests and a meandering river. It is one of the few castles in Germany that has never been destroyed or rebuilt and has been owned by the same family for over 850 years.
The castle consists of several buildings with different architectural styles, reflecting the different branches of the Eltz family that lived there. The castle also houses a treasury and an armory, with a collection of weapons, armor, gold, silver, and porcelain.
- Being one of the few castles in Germany that has never been destroyed or rebuilt and has been owned by the same family for over 850 years.
- Famous as a so-called Ganerbenburg, or a castle belonging to a community of joint heirs, which consists of several buildings with different architectural styles, reflecting the different branches of the Eltz family that lived there.
- Housing a treasury and an armory, with a collection of weapons, armor, gold, silver, and porcelain.
- The castle situated in a secluded valley in the Eltz Forest, which has been declared a nature reserve by Flora-Fauna-Habitat and Natura 2000.
- Offering a scenic view of the river Elzbach and the surrounding hills, making it one of the famous castles in the World.
3) Hohenzollern Castle
Hohenzollern Castle is the ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern, one of the most influential dynasties in German history. The castle sits on top of Mount Hohenzollern, about 50 kilometers south of Stuttgart, and dominates the skyline with its majestic silhouette.
This beautiful castle is also one of the most visited castles in Germany. The current castle was built in the 19th century in a neo-Gothic style, after the previous ones were destroyed by wars and fires. The castle contains a rich collection of art and historical artifacts, including the crown of Wilhelm II, the last German emperor.
- The ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern, one of the most influential dynasties in German history.
- Having a majestic silhouette that dominates the skyline with its spires, towers, domes, and sculptures.
- Containing a rich collection of art and historical artifacts, including the Crown of Wilhelm II, some of the personal effects of King Frederick the Great, and a letter from US President George Washington.
- The castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Germany, receiving about 300,000 visitors each year.
4) Heidelberg Castle
Heidelberg Castle is a romantic ruin that overlooks the old town of Heidelberg, one of the most charming cities in Germany. The castle was built in stages from the 13th to the 17th century, and combines Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque elements.
The castle was damaged by lightning, fires, wars, and explosions over the years, and was abandoned in the 18th century. Today, visitors can explore the remains of the castle and admire its beauty and history. The castle also hosts a museum, a wine cellar with a giant barrel, and spectacular fireworks show every summer.
- The world’s largest wine barrel where you can taste regional wine, making it one of the famous castles in Germany.
- The residence of the Palatine Counts and Electors from the House of Wittelsbach, who ruled the Palatinate of the Rhine for over 400 years.
- The world’s largest Apothecary Museum with a collection that dates back 2000 years.
- The Elizabeth Gate, a romantic archway that was built by Frederick V for his wife Elizabeth Stuart in one night.
- Hosting a museum, a wine cellar with a giant barrel, and spectacular fireworks show every summer.
- The Friedrichsbau, a unique monument of historicism that was reconstructed in the 19th century.
5) Lichtenstein Castle
Lichtenstein Castle is a fairy-tale castle that seems to defy gravity. It is built on a cliff edge above the Echaz Valley in Swabia, and is connected to another cliff by a narrow bridge. The castle was constructed in the 19th century by Duke Wilhelm of Urach, who was inspired by a novel by Wilhelm Hauff set in medieval Lichtenstein.
The castle features a neo-Gothic style with pointed arches, battlements, and a drawbridge. The interior is decorated with medieval furniture, weapons, paintings, and armor. The castle also has a chapel, a library, and a hall of ancestors. The castle is open to guided tours, and offers a spectacular view of the Swabian Alps and the Echaz Valley.
- Lichtenstein Castle is famous for The Knight’s Hall, which displays paintings and weapons from the Middle Ages.
- There is also a famous Chapel, which has stained beautiful glass windows and a wooden altar.
- There is also an armory which houses a collection of historical firearms and swords.
- Here’s one such bedroom at Lichtenstein Castle, with a canopy bed and a secret passage to the library.
- There is a large library with over 1,000 books and a spiral staircase leading to the terrace.
6) Hohenschwangau Castle
Hohenschwangau Castle is the childhood home of King Ludwig II, and the place where he dreamed of building Neuschwanstein Castle. The castle was built by his father, King Maximilian II, on the ruins of a medieval fortress in the 19th century.
The castle is decorated with frescoes depicting scenes from German legends and history and has a beautiful garden with a swan pond. The castle also offers a splendid view of Neuschwanstein Castle and the Alps, making it one of the most visited castles in Germany.
- The Hall of Heroes, which displays paintings of German legends and sagas.
- The Hall of Swan Knight, which depicts scenes from the life of Lohengrin, a mythical knight who arrived on a swan.
- The Bedroom of Queen Marie, which has a beautiful view of the Alps and Neuschwanstein Castle.
- The Bedroom of King Maximilian II, which has a secret door to his study and library.
- The Oriental Room, which shows the influence of exotic cultures on the king’s travels.
- It was decorated with paintings and frescoes that depict scenes from German legends and sagas, such as Lohengrin, Tannhäuser, and Parzival.
- It was furnished with elegant and comfortable furniture and objects that reflect the tastes and interests of the royal family.
7) Wartburg Castle
Wartburg Castle is one of the oldest and most important castles in Germany, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded in the 11th century by the landgrave of Thuringia, and was the scene of many historical events. It was here that Saint Elizabeth of Hungary lived and performed her charitable deeds, and where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German while hiding from his enemies.
The castle also hosted the famous Wartburg Festival in 1817, a gathering of students and intellectuals who advocated for German unity and democracy. The castle showcases various architectural styles, from Romanesque to Gothic to Renaissance, and has a museum with precious manuscripts, paintings, and relics.
- It was the home of Saint Elisabeth of Hungary, a princess who devoted her life to charity and became a symbol of Christian love and compassion.
- The Bergfried, the massive tower that offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape.
- It was the site of the legendary Sängerkrieg, a contest of minnesingers that featured poets such as Walther von der Vogelweide and Wolfram von Eschenbach.
- It was the inspiration for Richard Wagner’s opera Tannhäuser, which depicts the struggle between worldly and spiritual love.
- The Luther Room, which displays Luther’s original desk and chair, as well as his personal belongings and manuscripts.
8) Schwerin Castle
Schwerin Castle is a fairy-tale palace that stands on an island in Lake Schwerin, surrounded by gardens and bridges. It was built in the 14th century as a fortress by the dukes of Mecklenburg, and was later transformed into a magnificent residence in the 19th century by Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II.
The castle features a neo-Renaissance style with ornate facades, towers, domes, and sculptures. The interior is equally lavish, with rooms filled with artworks, furniture, porcelain, and tapestries. The castle also houses the state parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and a museum with collections of paintings, weapons, coins, and costumes.
- It was the residence of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg and Mecklenburg-Schwerin for centuries, and it reflects their power and prestige.
- It was rebuilt in the 19th century in a neo-Renaissance style by the architects Georg Adolf Demmler, Gottfried Semper, and Friedrich August Stüler, who created a masterpiece of historicism with 653 rooms and numerous towers.
- It houses a remarkable art museum that displays paintings, sculptures, porcelain, furniture, and other works collected by the dukes, as well as temporary exhibitions.
- It is also the seat of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament, which occupies part of the castle and holds its sessions in the former throne room.
- It is surrounded by a beautiful park and garden that features an orangery, a grotto, a colonnade courtyard, and various statues and fountains.
9) Mespelbrunn Castle
Mespelbrunn Castle is a charming water castle that lies in a secluded valley in the Spessart forest. It was built in the 15th century by a knight who received the land as a reward for his service to the emperor. The castle was later expanded and fortified by his descendants, who became nobles and counts.
The castle has a simple but elegant appearance, with white walls, red roofs, and half-timbered structures. The castle is still inhabited by the family of the founders, but parts of it are open to visitors. The castle also has a chapel, a courtyard, and a dungeon.
- It was built in the 15th century as a fortified house by a knight who received the land as a reward for his services against the Czechs.
- It was expanded and transformed into a Renaissance palace by his descendants, the Echter family, who were influential nobles and patrons of art and culture.
- It was one of the most important castles in Germany. It was spared from destruction during the Thirty Years’ War because of its hidden location in a remote valley, and it remained in the Echter family until 1665.
- It was inherited by the Counts of Ingelheim, who still live in the southern wing of the castle and open the main rooms to the public.
- It was featured in several films and books, such as The Spessart Inn by Wilhelm Hauff and The Spessart Robbers by Otfried Preußler.
10) Cochem Castle
Cochem Castle is a majestic fortress that towers over the town of Cochem on the Moselle River. It was built in the 11th century by a palatine count and was later pawned by an emperor to pay for his coronation. It is one of the most impressive and popular castles in the Moselle Valley, and a symbol of the region’s history and culture.
The castle has an impressive display of Renaissance and Baroque furniture, weapons, armor, and paintings. The castle also offers panoramic views of the river valley and the vineyards, making it one of the most beautiful castles in Germany.
- It was built as an imperial castle by King Konrad III, and it served as a strategic fortress and a royal residence for centuries.
- It was destroyed by the French troops of King Louis XIV in 1689 during the Nine Years’ War, and it remained in ruins until 1868, when it was bought and restored by a wealthy businessman from Berlin, Louis Fréderic Jacques Ravené.
- It was rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style with elements of Romanesque and Renaissance architecture, creating a fairy-tale appearance that contrasts with the natural beauty of the surroundings.
- It houses a museum that displays various artifacts and artworks from different periods of the castle’s history, such as weapons, armor, furniture, paintings, tapestries, and porcelain.
- It offers guided tours in several languages that showcase the castle’s highlights, such as the octagonal tower, the witches’ tower, the knights’ hall, the secret passages, and the mosaic of St. Christopher.
Germany is a country with a rich and diverse heritage, and its castles are a testament to that. From medieval fortresses to romantic palaces, from historical landmarks to cultural icons, Germany’s castles offer something for everyone. Whether you want to learn about the past, admire the architecture, or enjoy the scenery, you will find a castle that will enchant you. These are just 10 of the most famous and beautiful castles in Germany, but there are many more to discover and explore. So pack your bags and get ready for a fairy-tale adventure in Germany.