Germany has been bestowed with a huge number of castles, each having its history and importance.
There are about 20,000 castles contributing to the German landscape. Most of them are at least a hundred years old and now play host to museums, hotels, cultural art centers, historical monuments and famous tourist places. The German Castles Association is dedicated to the study and preservation of castles. It is the oldest national private historic preservation initiative in Germany. The online database currently offers detailed descriptions of some 5,000 castle listings which are linked to the Google Earth, allowing a bird’s eye view of these fortresses.
To name a few castles from 20,000 castles is impossible. However, we have sorted some of them based on its historical importance, popularity and its architecture.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle (Füssen, Germany)
It is the best castle to portray that, these are for princesses and fairytales. With its towers, turrets, frescoes, throne hall, and the location, Neuschwanstein castle looks like it was plucked straight from your favorite fairy tale. Disney took the inspiration from this castle for ‘The Sleeping Beauty Castle’ in Disneyland.
It was made by King Ludwig II of Bavaria. However, he stayed in the castle only for 11 nights. The construction of this crown jewel, tucked on the edge of the mountains South of Munich, began in 1869 and completed only after his demise in 1886. But within weeks of his sudden and mysterious demise, the magnificent castle with a height of 213 feet, was opened to the public.
It is rumored to be real-life inspiration for the castle in the Disney classic, Cinderella, released in 1950. The resemblance, after all, is striking.
The motivation behind this breathtaking castle is the works of famous musician Richard Wagner. It was only appropriate, when Wagner went broke, Ludwig let him move into Neuschwanstein where he wrote some of his best works.
It is the most photographed building in Germany and is visited annually by more than 1.3 million people, making it one of the most visited castles in the world.
Take the train directly from Munich to Füssen (approx 2 hours) and then take bus 73 or 78 directly to the Castles’ ticket office (10 minutes). From a rental car, it takes around 2 hours.
You can reserve your tickets at: https://www.neuschwanstein.de/englisch/tourist/admiss.htm
2. Nuremberg Imperial Castle (Nuremberg, Germany)
This castle not only has official importance but also has a devastating history. The castle protected the city in medieval times, and thus was the reason of becoming a powerhouse. One of the most important political decisions made, was when Emperor Charles IV declared that this castle would be the place where every new Holy Roman Emperor would have to hold their first government session.
The construction began in 1050 by the Holy Roman Emperor Heinrich III and was later the victim of WW 2. But most of the castle was quickly rebuilt as it was before the war.
The Nuremberg Castle was built up of sandstone. The underground rock cellars were used for centuries for fermenting and storing beer.
Currently the castle features a youth hostel where you can sleep like a king.
Take the train from Munich to Nuremberg (approx 1 hour) and then take bus 36 which drops you to the castle. You can also rent a car of your own.
For more travel information: https://www.kaiserburg-nuernberg.de/englisch/tourist/howtoget.htm
3. Burg Eltz Castle
Situated in a lush valley, Rhine river in the vicinity, Burg Eltz is one of the widely known fairy tale castles in the world. It got featured at the back of Germany 500’s Deutsch Mark note. One of the shocking facts is, that this castle has been in the hands of a single family for over 33 generations since 1157. Count and Countess Eltz, who are direct decedents still manage and live on the property today. It has never been destroyed or re-built over time.
This is the most accessable castle. You can reach via train, car, motorbike or a castle bus (number 330).
All the information on your mode of transport can be found under: https://www.burg-eltz.de/de/burg-eltz-reise-und-erlebnisplaner.html
4. Hohenzollern Castle (Hechingen, Germany)
This castle is one of the most astonishing ones in the entire Europe and is bound to attract visitors from all around the world. It sits on the top of the 855-meter mountain, enjoying the bird’s view. This castle has seen a substantial amount of ups and downs, constructions and destructions. Yet it is standing tall and high. Since 1061, the generation of the Prussian family is the owner of this castle.
The family also has Sigmaringen Castle right in the city of Sigmaringen to fall back on, during the months when Hohenzollern castle gets too busy. Famous Miller beer has its roots in this castle. Frederick Miller started brewing beer for the royal family in this castle and finally moved to the United States to find Miller Beer in 1855.
A rental car takes 45 minutes from Stuttgart to the castle. Shuttle ride of 15 minutes is also easily available or you can hike from the parking lot to the castle (30 minutes). A train from Stuttgart to Hechingen (approx 30 minutes) followed by the shuttle will also work. It is worthy to note, that it is close by to ‘Lichtenstein Castle’, so you can club these two in your travel plans.
For further information: https://www.burg-hohenzollern.com/Welcome.html
5. Burg Frankenstein (Darmstadt, Germany)
Burg Frankensteinis a little ruined remain, about 30km south of Frankfurt, Germany. Historical facts and rumors are intermingled with this castle. Many believed, this castle was the inspiration of the first modern horror novel – ‘Frankenstein’, penned by Mary Schelly. Her step mother was herself the english translator for Grimm brother’s creepy fairy tales.
It is also believed that the protagonist in the novel was inspired from the real life scientist, John Konrad Dippel (was famous as mad-scientist for his experiments on dead animals and humans)
After WW2, American soldiers had a Halloween party at the castle and since then it became an annual event for the castle.
364 days of the year, the castle sleeps and wakes up for only one day of the year to celebrate the scary Halloween. In addition, the Frankenstein Castle restaurant often hosts scary dinners and Medieval banquets.
While you have to hike the final 30 minutes up to the castle, you can reach the starting point by car or by public transportation. From Frankfurt, it is only 1 hour (90 minutes from the airport) or 2 hours from Heidelberg.
For more information: https://frankenstein-halloween.de/en/
6. Wartburg Castle (Eisenach, Germany)
This castle is undoubtedly, the most important one for the modern German history. Built around 1067 above the central German town of Eisenach, it was an attraction for artists. But when Wartburg castle provided sanctuary to a fleeing Martin Luther in 1521-22, it got his share of fame. This was the time and the place where he translated the New Testament into German. He worked with a breakneck speed and completed in just 10 weeks. With no surprise, it quickly became the most widely circulated version of the Bible in German. One can visit the room, where Martin Luther stayed and translated Bible. Wartburg is the first castle, to be designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999.
7. Burghausen Castle (Bavaria, Germany)
Tucked above the town of Burghausen in Upper Bavaria has the world’s longest castle complex according to the Guinness Book of Records. Its length is 1051 meters and was built before 1025. From 1255 to 1503, the castle was the family residence and treasury of the Lower Bavarian dukes. In the later centuries, the castle changed multiple hands, and was extended and modernized several times.
The Polish princess Hedwig, wife of Duke Georg der Reiche (Georg the Rich), resided in this castle. Even today, once every four years, a huge celebration termed as the Landshut Wedding commemorates the royal match.
There are no guided tours, but visitors are welcomed here to take a walk through the castle and enjoy its beauty in your own time.
It is located close to the German-Austrian border, and is around a two-hour drive from Munich. For more information, visit: https://www.burg-burghausen.de/englisch/tourist/index.htm
There are numerous castles in Germany, worth enjoying. To name a few of them:
Marksburg castle, Rheinstein Castle, Cochem Castle, Altena Castle, Lichtenstein Castle, Heidelberg Castle and many many more.