20 Best German Castles Worth Visiting At Least Once In A Lifetime

Hohenzollern Castle

Though Germany is famous for many reasons, its world-class castles would certainly be on top of any list.  Seated high on mountain or hilltops with their towers and turrets reaching for the sky, encircled by fluxing rivers and lush woods, German castles are as good as any other famous tourist attractions you can find around the world. All famous castles in Germany boast of rich history, dazing scenery and extraordinary architecture. You can still meet the descendants of founders of many castles. Many are in fact still living in this fairy tale German castles. Following are some of the best German castles you should never miss visiting if you ever get an opportunity:

1. Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein Castle is among one of the top and most famous tourist attractions in the whole Europe. It is also the most photographed building in Germany and was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty Castle of Walt Disney. Built in late 1800, the castle is located among the remarkable beauty of the Bavarian Alps adjacent to the town of Fussen. Surprisingly, this castle was never intended for strengthening the defense of the Bavarian area; rather it was developed as a whimsical privacy for Ludwig II of Bavaria. Ludwig profoundly admired Richard Wagner, a famous opera composer at that time, and dedicated the whole third floor for his captivation to swan scenes from opera. Other rooms of the castle are adorned with beautiful paintings and dazzling chandeliers that you can find nowhere else!


2. Hohenzollern Castle

Hohenzollern Castle

This castle is the private property of Hohenzollern family and is their ancestral home. It is one of the most popular German castles. The history of the castle can be traced back to the 11th century through the primarily built castle was ruined over the centuries with a chapel standing as the remnant. King Frederick William IV of Prussia constructed the current castle in the mid-19th century from 30 miles south of the city Stuttgart. Unlike other castles, this castle is now a museum and treasures many valuables from the kings and emperors arisen from Hohenzollern family including a uniform used by Frederick the Great and the crown worn by Prussian emperor and kings.


3. Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle demonstrates the view of old picturesque Heidelberg and situated around 80 meters of a mountainside. The ruins of the castle represent the most significant Renaissance structures on the north side of Alps Mountain. The Heidelberg castle has a long stormy past as the earliest castle was founded in the 13th century. During a thirty-year war, it had been almost destroyed. Again, it was attacked by the French in the 17th century. In 1764, it was struck by lightning, and even its stones were carried away to construct new homes in Heidelberg. It has been redeveloped at different times, and all this redevelopment has led to various architectural designs which contribute significantly to the beauty of the current castle. Overall, it has to be one of the most famous German Castles.


4. Burg Eltz Castle 

Burg Eltz Castle

The Burg Eltz Castle is located near the Moselle River between Koblenz and Trier.  It was constructed in the 12th century, and since then it has been the ancestral residence of the Rodendorf, Rübenach, and Kempenich families. The castle still has some of its original furniture and valuables. It is seated atop of a big rock in the center of a forest. The medieval architectural design of the castle is quite stunning. A surprising fact about the castle is that it had never been caught in the war despite Germany having a long history of wars. Its arsenal consists of silver and gold artifacts as well as jewelry and porcelain, is regarded one of the best of its type in Europe. The 1979 movie “The Ninth Configuration” featured the exterior of this castle. Overall, it has to be one of the most beautiful German Castles.


5. Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle is situated in the village of Hohenschwangau adjacent to the town of Fussen. Maximillian II, who was the father of Famous Ludwig II from Bavaria, founded this castle though it was originally not built by him. When he discovered the castle, it was in ruins. Still, Maximillian II bought the castle and got it renovated as the vicinity of the castle enthralled him deeply. He was the crown prince at that time.  When the renovation was completed, Maximillian used it as his hunting lodge and spent his summer time here. When Maximillian died in 1864, the castle went under the reign of Ludwig II. He never got married, so his mother was the host at this palace for the rest of her life. Its architectural beauty and historical significance make it one of the most popular castles in Germany.


6. Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle

Constructed in the 19th century to show respect to the medieval knights from Lichtenstein, Lichtenstein Castle is one of the newer castles in Germany. Though a castle stood on the same place in the 12th century where the present castle is located, the original castle was just in ruins until the present one was constructed. It stands proudly on a hilltop and only reachable by a stone bridge stretching out to another hilltop.  Situated in the Swabian Alps close to Honau, this Neo-Gothic building is famous for its assortment of historical armor and weapons.


7. Schwerin Castle

Schwerin Castle

Schwerin Castle is stunningly adorned with many turrets and towers and is regarded as one of the best examples of European Historicist architectural style. It is located on an island in the central lake at Schwerin. It is reported that a castle stood on the same place in the 10th century where current Schwerin Castle is located. The castle was the residence of grand dukes of Mecklenburg for many centuries. In the 20th century, the castle was turned into a museum and a college for preschool teachers. At present, the castle still serves as a museum as well as serves as the parliament of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state government. An interesting fact about this castle is that a house-ghost has been discovered here several times wearing 17th-century garb! So, people who have an interest in ghost spirit or paranormal activity enjoy looking for Petermännchen (the ghost name) while visiting this building. So, its architecture and historical importance make it one of the most famous German Castles.


8. Wartburg Castle 

Wartburg Castle

Foundation of Wartburg Castle was laid in the 11th century though it had been famous after a few centuries passed from its foundation. It is situated in Eisenach. This castle has been associated with some historical figures such as Martin Luther were hiding here while he completed the translation of the Bible in the early years of 16th Century. During the reign of Adolf Hitler, he wanted to take down the castle’s cross and flag it with a swastika. Being one of the finely maintained medieval castles of Germany, tourists can take a shuttle bus or hike up over a steep slope to visit the castle.


9. Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle

Mespelbrunn Castle wasn’t built originally as a castle. A knight from the early 15th century built it on water as his sweet abode.  Though this castle lacks the typical grave and glamorous look of other German castles, its plain yet elegant charm makes it one of the most popular water castles in the whole Germany. In fact, it has been reported as one of the most captivating castles in Europe as well. It is situated in the Spessart forest between Wurzburg and Frankfurt and privately owned. However, the owner family keeps the castle doors open for the tourists almost all the time of the year. People who have visited this castle before have highly recommended taking a free walk on the path encircling the castle grounds.


10. Reichsburg Cochem Castle

Reichsburg Cochem Castle

Sitting on a hill and looking over the Moselle River, Reichsburg Castle in Cochem contains an impressive collection of Baroque and Renaissance furniture. It was constructed by a palatinate count approximately 1000 century and changed hands afterward when an emperor pawned it for paying his coronation. It got attacked and destroyed in the 17th century by French King Louis XIV when he ran invasion throughout the area. The castle was reconstructed in neo gothic architectural style. Overall, it has to be one of the best fairy tale German Castles you must visit once in your lifetime.


11. Glucksburg Castle

Glucksburg Castle

Glücksburg Castle is a water castle (Wasserschloss) in the city of Glücksburg, Germany. It is a significant Renaissance castle in northern Europe region. It was constructed around the 16th century by Nikolaus Karie for John II, Duke of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg. Situated on the Flensburg Fjord, the castle is now a museum owned by a foundation, and is no longer inhabited by the ducal family. The building had typical Renaissance furnishings and adornments that were removed in the 19th century. Otherwise, the outer part has remained almost unchanged for over 400 years.


12. Plassenburg Castle 

Plassenburg Castle

Symbol of the Bavarian city of Kulmbach, it’s one of the most beautiful castles in Germany. Its history can be traced back to 1135. It was taken down in 1554 while the 2nd Margravian war was almost ending. It was rebuilt afterward by the architect Caspar Vischer as a palace and an awe-inspiring stronghold.


13. Nuremberg Castle

Nuremberg Castle

This castle is sitting on a sandstone rock on the north side of the Bavarian town of Nuremberg. It consists of three sections: some buildings of the Burgraves of Nuremberg (Burggrafenburg), the Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg) and the municipal buildings of the Imperial City at the eastern site (Reichsstädtische Bauten). The castle, along with the city walls, is regarded as one of Europe’s best formidable medieval fortifications. Thus, it is one of the most beautiful and unique German Castles you must see.


14. Burghausen Castle

Burghausen Castle

Burghausen Castle is the biggest castle complex in Europe and one of the largest castle complex in the world. Visitors who like to see big or giant things would never want to miss visiting this castle. There are six courtyards in it and it is more than 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) long. This castle was one of the formidable fortifications in Germany during the middle ages. This well-managed castle is famous for its display of late Gothic paintings and adornments. At present, the castle is available for public as well as public ceremonies like a wedding can be arranged here.


15. Schloss Johannisburg

Schloss Johannisburg

Schloss Johannisburg is sited in the Bavarian town of Aschaffenburg in Franconia. It is considered as one of the most significant constructions of the Renaissance era in Germany. Architect Georg Ridinger developed the building between 1605 and 1614. Prince Bishop of Mainz used this castle as his second home until 1803. The castle was nearly demolished in the ending days of World War 2 and took almost 20 years to renovate it fully.


16. Marienberg Fortress

Marienberg Fortress

Marienberg Fortress is a mighty fortress as well as is a symbol of Würzburg. It was active fort from the very beginning. The present buildings were originally developed in Baroque and Renaissance styles somewhere between 16th to 18th centuries. Bishops of Würzburg would live in the fortress. When they ceased to live there, the fortress actively took part in the wars of late 18th and 19th centuries. The fortress got severely damaged during World War II. It took a long time to rebuild it and fully restored in 1990.


17. Schloss Heiligenberg

Schloss Heiligenberg

Schloss Heiligenberg is situated in the north of the Bodensee and built in Renaissance style. Through a marriage in 1516, the burgh got passed to the House of Fürstenberg in 1535. Fürstenberg family still owns the castle at present. The castle is standing on a high plateau with striking views down onto the Bodensee and the Alps.


18. Sigmaringen Castle

Sigmaringen Castle

The Sigmaringen Castle overlooks the vista of the town of Sigmaringen. It is sited in the Swabian Alb. The castle was reconstructed in 1893 following a devastating fire which only left the towers of the former medieval fortress. When World War 2 was ending, and France got liberated by the allied force, the castle was briefly used as the seat of Vichy French Government. Though visitors can visit the castle almost any time of the year, all parts of the castle aren’t open for general people.


19. Frankenstein Castle

Frankenstein Castle

Frankenstein Castle was established around 13th century through the castle wasn’t a notable one initially. When Mary Shelly based her Gothic Novel ‘Frankenstein’ around this castle in 1818, it caught the attention of mass people. The castle got popularity as a visiting place as well as looked on from a frightening perspective. The castle has some legends such as it is haunted by the dead for centuries, an early owner died here after a fight with a dragon, etc. Located on a hilltop dominating the skyline of Darmstadt in southern Germany, the castle at present is the host of one of the largest Halloween festivals in Europe.


20. Marburger Schloss

Marburger Schloss

Marburger Castle was constructed in the 11th century and used as a fort. It was the first abode of Landgraviate of Hesse. At present, the building is used as an event site as well as a museum. The “Marburg Colloquy” meeting between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli was held here in 1529.


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