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They say there are at least twenty thousand castles in Germany, with the oldest being Meersburg Castle and the largest and most famous being
Neuschwanstein Castle. You’ll possibly find hints as to what kind of castle they are some of the time hidden in their official names. The ones with “burg” were castles built originally for defending and started out their castle careers as fortresses, The ones with “Schloss” were often the royal and wealthy palaces.
One thing is for sure, there are plenty of fantastic castles in Germany to explore.
Reichsburg Cochem, Imperial Castle, Cochem, Germany - This 12th century castle lay in ruins for centuries until it’s fairy godfather, Berlin businessman Louis Ravené, bought it and rebuilt it in 1868. Some of it is original, like the Hexenturm (witches tower) that is legendary for throwing women out of an upper window to test them for being witches. Pretty much a damned if you do survive concept.
Mespelbrunn Castle, Mespelbrunn, Germany — This 15th century water castle has everything you’d want in a castle with a moat, towers, and walls. It’s known today for its beautiful rooms inside (guided tour groups only). It’s unique in that it’s one of the few castles known to have survived the 30 years war.
Wartburg Castle, Eisenach, Germany — Birthed in the Middle Ages, it’s where Martin Luther took refuge in 1521 for his own safety and where he translated the New Testament into German. It’s endured many indignities over its history including being robbed of its well known collection of weapons and armor during the Soviet troop occupation of it in WWII. Today it is a popular tourist destination.
Lichtenstein Castle, Lichtenstein, Baden-Württemberg, Germany — One can only imagine what the original castle may have looked like since the castle you see today was built to honor the legendary medieval knights of Lichtenstein. Today its known for the stone bridge leading up to it from another hill in the Swabian Alps near Honau and housing Schwerin Castle’s historic amour and weapon collection.
Heidelberg Schloss Castle, Heidelberg, Germany — These romantic castle ruins date to the Renaissance and the 13th century. They were comply devastated during the 40 Years War and then further destroyed 400 years later and zapped again by lightning- leading locals to spirit away stones stones for new houses. Subsequent rebuilding has led to a nice mix of architectural style and charm.
Schloss Hohenschwangau Castle, Schwangau, Germany — it stands upon the site of a 12th century fortress and is the second castle on that hill. In its day it’s been a royal hunting retreat and then rebuilt into a castle beginning in 1833. Later it was the home of King Ludwig and his mother Queen. Today it is a poplar German castle to tour.
Burg Eltz Wierschem, Germany - it’s the kind of castles that fairytales are made of. Birthed by a 9th century manor house, raised as a fortress against a siege or two, passed around like a hot potato and added to for a few generations, and finally restored in 19th century and again in recent years. Still lived in by successive generations parts of is open from April to October for tourism. Grand and amazing castle.
Hohenzollern Castle, Bisingen, Germany - The 3rd built upon the same hilltop, one lost to a siege, the next to wars and neglect, and finally rebuilt and restored beginning in the 19th century. Like any castle it’s had its woes and foes, but today it remains a wonderment of history and beauty and is extremely popular of Germany’s fine castles.
Neuschwanstein Castle - Palace in Schwangau, Germany — Perhaps the most famous castle inside and beyond, and without question the most popular castle in Europe. When it comes to castles this one has it all, towers, turrets, frescos, a grand throne hall, and a kings dressing room. It’s no secret that the castle inspired Walt Disney and why it’s so popular with all tourists, especially Americans. Shy and peculiar King Ludwig II of Bavaria would be so shocked to see the world’s take on his dream castle that he never saw finished.
Burg Altena Castle, Altena, Germany - Some castles remain ruins, some remain castles, and some become museums. Burg Altena Castle has been a military garrison, residence, almshouse, criminal court, prison and ruins. It seems entirely fair that it now gets to spend its golden years being a gleaming museum, restaurant, and houses a youth hostel in its grounds.
Burg Frankenstein Castle, Bergstraße-Odenwald Nature Park, Mühltal,
Germany — Built originally before 1250 this famous named castle, would be both a hospital and in ruins by the 18th century. Attached to it are many myths and legends, and of course Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein novel. Then there’s the legends of Lord George and a dragon, a fountain of youth, a gold rush, ghost hunters, a magnetic stone, a sea of rocks, of a whole lot of mystery and intrigue.
Sanssouci Palace, Potsdam, Germany — Small, more like a summer villa for royals, Sanssouci Palace is a mini-castle in size, yet endearing castle designed for Frederick the Great’s concept of a retreat and today is a dream of a castle in terms of its grand entrance and interior rooms with impressive gardens.
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