Castles are now iconic symbols of grandeur and mythical tales. Aside from their dazzling appearance and antiquity, they reveal an old, vivid, and true fable.
Castles in Germany date from the 9th to 10th centuries, when the Great Age of Castles originated. Castles embody the need for nations to be protected from invasions by other nations, as well as serve as residences for aging royal families.
These incredible structures are examples of strategic and solid rocky constructions constructed by kings and emperors to guard a nation’s territories during warfare and also to impose rule among populaces during peacetime.
Modern Germany has a magnificent castle heritage, with over 2100 castles spread throughout the country. A very bright and amusing history awaits behind the doors of these impressive castles.
Approximately 100 years ago, not quite long ago, kings and emperors and their families visited, lived, and operated there. Historical resolutions were reached there, and many soldiers died there defending their country from invaders.
These magnificent ancient structures now serve as cultural artifacts, museums, guesthouses, and antiquity references. This spans from the poster child of castles everywhere, Neuschwanstein Castle, to the little ruins of medieval fortresses, and there are so many of them that this list can only highlight a small portion of them.
Let us take the opportunity to explore the article and see what these amazing architectural structures in Germany have to offer.
1. Neuschwanstein Castle
First on the list of most magnificent castles in Germany is the Neuschwanstein Castle.
This is one of Europe’s and the world’s most beautiful castles, situated in the Bavarian Alps close to the town of Füssen in southeast Bavaria, Germany.
The architect Eduard Riedel built this magnificent castle for the insane King Ludwig II or Louis II of Bavaria between 1869 and 1886. The King of Bavaria commissioned it as a memorial to the famous German Wilhelm Richard Wagner, a prominent German artist best known for his noble opera work.
Ludwig II realized his aspirations in brick and stone by constructing three lavish castles. He wished to build palaces that evoked the courtship of Teutonic Sagas as well as the glory of Versailles. Thanks to Wagner’s operas, Ludwig II was able to enter the romantic world of Medieval legends.
However, this expertise was limited to the stage. He could actively enter the golden brilliance and romantic tales of times gone by in the castles Ludwig II built, Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee, and Neuschwanstein, leaving reality far behind.
An intriguing modern fact related to this ancient architectural giant leads us to California, USA, where Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle was built as a replica after Lillian and Walt Disney had their inspirational European trip. Certainly, the replica falls short of the original state of the castle.
Neuschwanstein Castle allows tours guided by proper tour guides.
Address: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, Schwangau
2. Hohenzollern Castle (Burg Hohenzollern)
Next on the list of one of the best castles in Germany is the Hohenzollern Castle.
The Hohenzollern Castle, formerly known as the Hohenzollern House, is another exceptional historical heritage of Germany, located on the hillside of Swabia, Bisingen, 50 kilometers south of Stuttgart.
The castle dates back to 1061 and has been referred to as “Castro Zolre” since 1267, with modern literature referring to it as the “Crown of all Castles in Swabia” and “The Utmost Solid House in Germany.” The castle has a sort of mythical shape and is surrounded by beautiful jungle views.
Hohenzollern Castle was demolished in 1423, and the castle was rebuilt in 1454 with a more robust and larger architectural style. It was destroyed in the early 19th century due to a lack of proper preservation. In 1819, Crown Prince Frederick Wilhelm of Prussia transformed the castle for the third time. Later, as King, Frederick William IV rebuilt the castle, transforming it into the most impressive neo-Gothic castle.
The Hohenzollern Castle, which is privately owned, is now a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world.
The owners allow visitors to tour the scenic neo-gothic outside of the castle, as well as the old pictures of the family dynasty, art pieces, and the Prussian King’s Crown; films in the movie theater inside; various concerts and exhibitions; and many other special events. The Christmas market within the Hohenzollern castle facilities is another interesting modern feature.
Address: 72379 Burg Hohenzollern, Germany
3. Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein)
Amongst the list of the most majestic castles in Germany comes Lichtenstein Castle. Perched on a high rocky ledge on the rim of the Swabian Alps and accessible via a narrow wooden bridge, it is not what it appears to be.
Despite the fact that this crag has been the site of several previous castles, the neo-Gothic one constructed on their foundations is a Victorian-era version of a medieval Lichtenstein Castle. The steep barricades in Lichtenstein Castle and the tall round tower are accentuated by the elevation, and the narrow connectivity bridge over a ravine completes the storybook charm.
The rooms in Lichtenstein Castle are lavishly adorned in the Romantic style, with elaborately painted ceilings and carved wooden details; highlights include vibrantly colored wall paintings; 15th-and 16th-century glass paintings in the chapel; and the Knights’ Hall. Lichtenstein Castle is about an hour’s drive from Stuttgart.
Address: Schloss Lichtenstein 1, Lichtenstein
4. Schwerin Castle
Fourth on the list of most amazing castles in Germany is the Schwerin Castle.
Schwerin Castle has much to reveal and is honestly one of the mouse beautiful castles in Germany. This remarkably beautiful and fascinating architectural masterpiece was a significant Romantic Historicism building in Northern Europe. The view from it is unusually panoramic as it is located in the heart of greenery and lake landscape in the city of Schwerin, Germany.
Nowadays, the Schwerin Castle is a massive structure with 653 rooms that are classically decorated, have patterned groundwork with artifacts and ornamentations, and are surrounded by rich and tall wall surfaces. The castle is also famous for the story of “Petermännchen,” a living ghost in the castle who is depicted as a human-friendly ghost with many keys to open the main gates when someone needs assistance.
Schwerin Castle was destroyed in the twentieth century by a fire that entombed it in 1913. The Grand Duke, who began the restoration of the remaining ruins, left it uncompleted due to the 1918 revolution, which forced his resignation.
From that time until 1948, the castle served as a museum, and from 1948 to 1952, it served as a venue for state legislature assemblies. The castle served as an academic institution from 1952 to 1981.
Since 1990, the Schwerin Castle has served as the site of Mecklenburg-state Vorpommern’s assembly. Sequential restorations attempted to restore the castle’s former pride and fame.
Schwerin Castle now only accepts visitors in a museum area that depicts the Dukes who previously resided there.
Address: Lennéstraße 1, Schwerin, Germany
5. Reichsburg Castle (Cochem Castle)
Reichsburg Castle, also known as Cochem Castle or Reichsburg Cochem, rises 300 feet above Cochem and the Moselle River and certainly is one of the best castles in Germany.
In 1689, French King Louis XIV ordered the destruction of Reichsburg Castle, which was thought to date back to 1100. For 180 years, the castle was a colorful stone ruin until wealthy Berlin business tycoon Louis Ravené decided to purchase the remains and rebuild the castle in 1868.
Rather than restoring the palace to its initial Romanesque style and condition, Ravené had his designers construct a Neo-Gothic castle for his family to use as a summer residence.
Reichsburg Castle, one of the largest and best castles in Germany, offers a variety of tours to suit a wide range of interests. Take a tour of the landscape garden, the ghost tour, or the night watchman tour. Each provides unique insights, gripping stories, and historical information about the castle.
Reichsburg Castle is still one of the most beautiful castles to visit in Germany, not only for the tours but also for the other fun events and activities it hosts.
Prepare to be enthralled by highly skilled eagles, falcons, and vultures as they make their mark during the falconry appearances, and end the day with The Knights’ Meal, which includes local wine, historical cuisine, and jesters and minstrel performances.
Address: Schloßstrasse 36, Cochem
6. Heidelberg Castle (Heidelberger Schloss)
Next on the list of most beautiful castles in Germany, comes the Heidelberg Castle.
Heidelberg Castle dominates the skyline and is set against the vivid green forest areas on the north side of the field of Königstuhl hill. The sunset-colored sandstone ruins of Heidelberg Castle tower regally over the Neckar Valley, casting a shadow over the quaint university town’s cafés and cobbled pathways.
The Heidelberg, once a Gothic masterpiece, was plundered, set on fire, and struck by lightning twice. Heidelberg Castle was never restored to its former glory and now stands in ruins. Despite this, an estimated one million visitors scoot up to these parts of the castle ruins each year, making it one of Germany’s top castles.
The castle’s first structure was built before 1214, and it was eventually expanded to two components in 1294.
The world’s largest wine barrel is proudly housed in the cellar of Heidelberg Castle. The Heidelberg Tun, at 23 feet above the ground and 27 feet wide, and with a capacity of 220,000 liters of wine, is not only larger than most apartments, but it is also a wine drinker’s dream. Public visitation is allowed.
Take in the perspectives from the Heidelberg Castle courtyard or stroll through the parts of the castle walls that are adorned with remarkable sculptures. Move down to the wine cellar to see Heidelberg Tun, then hit the dance floor and drink some wine.
Address: Schlosshof 1, Heidelberg
7. Hohenschwangau Castle
Next on the list of most beautiful castles in Germany, comes Hohenschwangau Castle.
When Hohenschwangau Castle was rebuilt in the mid-1500s, an original 12th-century castle had already been in ruins, and it was left in partial wreckage by Austrian troops in 1743. Almost a century later, the Bavarian Crown Prince, later King Maximilian II, father of King Ludwig II, purchased Hohenschwangau Castle and began rebuilding it in accordance with the original plans.
The halls and chambers inside the neogothic exterior of crenelated towers were covered in nearly 100 frescoes and works of art depicting local historical events and German courageous legends of Parsival and Lohengrin, as well as other romantic sagas.
Queen Marie created an alpine lawn surrounded by a cantilevered wall, which was also filled with romantic story symbols, such as a fountain in the form of a water-spouting swan.
Hohenschwangau castle was designated as the royal summer home, and young Ludwig grew up amid romantic legends of civility and knighthood. After his father’s death, he became king and lived here until the completion of his own fanciful Neuschwanstein castle, topped with a facing crag.
A tour of the Hohenschwangau Castle feels like stepping back in time, with majestic hallways and passageways packed with original late 19th century Biedermeier furnishings and scenes from legends. It’s convenient to see where Ludwig got his fascination with the intimate tales that shaped his vision for Neuschwanstein.
Address: Alpseestraße 30, Schwangau
8. Wartburg Castle(Schloss Wartburg)
Further on the list of most beautiful castles in Germany, comes the Wartburg Castle.
Wartburg Castle towers 400 meters above the semi-rural town of Eisenach in central Germany. Wartburg Castle, outlined as an exceptional hilltop castle of the feudal era in central Europe, boasts an excellent overview of 1,000 years of German history and was thus the first ever German palace that is held as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Wartburg Castle was built in the second half of the 12th century and retains some initial sections from its feudal period, but the majority is a well-researched 19th-century reconstruction. As a result, you see it as it would have appeared at its peak of power and importance during the Middle Ages. Its significance is highlighted by its elevation of 400 meters.
The structure and inspiration for various facets of the castle vary, but they all blend together harmoniously. The romantic reconstruction ideas for certain parts of the estate pay homage to the great people who once lived at Wartburg Castle and balance out the stone castle’s initial Norman period architecture.
In the past, St Elizabeth and the then-exiled Martin Luther stayed at Wartburg Castle, where he transcribed the New Testament of the Bible into German. Wartburg Castle, steeped in history, is a must-see for any history buff.
Enter the courtyard through an ancient drawbridge to find it encircled by half-timbered buildings as well as battlemented parapets. Fully renovated halls and rooms recreate medieval and Renaissance life. Wartburg Castle has over 9,000 historic items which are used in period interiors and other displays, and the art collections encompass works by the artist Lucas Cranach the Elder.
Address: Auf der Wartburg 1, Eisenach
9. Marburg Castle (Landgrafenschloss)
Number 9 on the list of best castles in Germany comes, the Marburg Castle.
The remarkable castle that towers just above the delightful town of Marburg dates back to AD 1000, and it is one of Germany’s oldest hillforts. The castle that now crowns the town was built in the 13th century and served as the primary residence of the Landgraves of Hesse until 1604.
The Marburg Castle is one of the most visited castles in Germany.
Many tourists visit Marburg as a portion of the German Fairy Tale Route; the Grimm brothers enrolled in the university here, and the palace inspired some of their stories. Today, the remarkable Museum of Art and Cultural History occupies five floors of the well-preserved castle.
Old fortresses from the 9th and 10th centuries can be found at the bottom of the west wing. The castle’s museum is open all year, and there are weekend strolling excursions through the castle and its casements from April to October.
Address: Schloss 1, Marburg, Hess.
10. Burghausen Castle
With a length of 1000 meters, Burghausen Castle is among the world’s largest antique structures. The mythological gloss of the castle, located at the top of a hill, combined with its rich surroundings, makes it a popular destination for visitors from all over the world.
Its antiquated legend is immediately revealed by an image of an ancient architectural style with a vibrantly colored iconic anterior end and blunt facades and fortifications. Its divergent and dissimilar structure, which includes several appealing remnants such as the primary early Gothic palace, the noirish temple, museums, several backyards, and modern apartments, adds to the castle’s allure.
The Burghausen Castle is located close to Munich, Germany, near the Salzach River on the Bavarian side of the Austrian-German border, and serves as a magnificent tourist attraction.
The castle was built in 1025 and was inhabited by Lower Bavarian Wittelsbach dukes between 1255 and 1503. Duke Otto, expanded the castle in 1180, and Duke Henry XII gave it its current appearance in 1255. The building was strong because wealthy Dukes wanted to keep their valuable silver and gold there securely.
Further restorations to the castle were carried out under Napoleon I’s order in 1809. After the effort to destroy the castle failed, some novel renovations were carried out in 1896.
A disturbing historical fact about the castle is that it was also used for torturing and killing people, including prisoners and notable figures imprisoned during the war.
Address: Burg 48, 84489 Burghausen, Germany
11. Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz)
Lastly, on the list of some of the best castles in Germany comes Eltz Castle.
Burg Eltz, like Hohenzollern Castle in Southern Germany, will more than satisfy your children’s wish to see a real fairy tale castle.
It not only looks the part, with its towers and connecting directly via a narrow bridge, but the location, atop a 70-meter-high rocky outcropping surrounded by dense forest, is ideal. Burg Eltz stands out from the forested hillside with its rising stone walls, pointed artillery cannons, steeply pitched rooftops, and red half-timbered windows.
The Kempenich family has owned Burg Eltz since its inception in the 12th century, and it has been maintained properly and restored, with remarkable decor and most of its original decorations. It is one of the finest descriptions of a medieval fortress in Germany.
By the mid-1600s, Burg Eltz had grown to its current size, with 8 tall housing developments totaling 100 rooms circling the central courtyard. In the 19th century, careful restoration did not influence the constructions’ or their decoration.
The Knights’ Hall, including its suits of armor as well as an original 15th-century kitchen, as well as the armory and treasury, are highlights of a tour. These house one of Germany’s most important private collections of historic artworks, with over 500 objects, which include gold and silver, jewelry, glass, porcelain, ivory, armaments, and curios.
Address: Eltz Castle, Burg-Eltz-Strasse 1, Wierschem
The Rhine river and its castles
The Rhine river area is both the most romantic and one of the busiest in Germany. The main draw is undoubtedly the castles all along the Rhine. Over 40 castles in Germany are along the Rhine and have been converted into luxurious hotels, restaurants, and museums.
Travelers enjoy cruising the river only to gaze at the castles. This region of Germany is also well-known for its excellent wine, which has been popular since ancient Roman times. This is the way to try an ideal glass of white wine created from Riesling, the finest white wine grape.
Castles on the Rhine river were primarily constructed as defense strongholds and toll houses between the 12th and 14th centuries, and over 40 can be found along a 65-kilometer stretch of the Middle Rhine Valley. However, many 19th-century makeovers were influenced by the later Romanticism period. Some castles are fine examples of restoration today, while others are impressive ruins.
Here are a few of them:
- Marksburg Castle—The only castle on the Rhine River that has never been severely damaged. This castle is a classic medieval masterpiece, complete with a wine cellar, a Noirish hall, a chapel, a horse stable, and bed chambers. It’s just above the tiny town of Braubach. Public visitation is allowed.
- Rheinfels Castle—The most humungous and intricate castle ruins people should take a trip to. Tourists are awestruck by the maze of trenches and tunnels that can be explored. It is essential to visit the castle’s museum, which is housed in the former chapel. You can also enjoy a delicious meal at the restaurant near the castle.
- Rheinstein Castle—It’s about 300 meters above the Rhine River, with one of the most spectacular landscapes behind it. When trying to enter the castle, don’t miss the Knight’s Hall, which is the most gorgeous part of the structure. This room features a large stained glass window as well as three-dimensional paintings. There is also a café and a gift shop from which you can purchase handcrafted wooden souvenirs.
- Katz Castle—Cat Castle, as it is affectionately known, stands on a ledge overlooking the river. The castle’s architecture is magnificent, and you can see it while sailing on the Rhine.
- Stolzenfels Palaces—Visitors from all around the world are drawn to the castle, which has been transformed into a magnificent palace. It is situated on the Rhine’s left bank. The view of the Rhine River from the palace’s terrace is even more lavish than the palace’s luxurious furniture.
You haven’t truly experienced Europe until you’ve visited some castles in Germany, be it Hohenzollern Castle or Lichtenstein castle as Germany certainly has a good proportion of gorgeous, famous castles. Choose among our list of the greatest castles in Germany to begin your own royal journey. Your fairytale castle awaits, from neoclassical to Renaissance to Baroque!