Germany’s 11 Incredible Castles

Germany’s 11 Incredible Castles

It is said that the Czech Republic has more castles per square kilometer than any other country, but according to some estimates Germany has more than 20,000 castles. It is difficult to get an exact number because the definition of “castle” varies. Nevertheless, there are fortifications, residences, medieval and fairy-tale castles scattered throughout the country, scattered over the hills. To a first-time visitor, it seems as if there is a castle on every hilltop. Some of these structures are hundreds of years old. Today the castles have been turned into hotels, museums and tourist attractions.

Some have been purchased and converted into modern homes, while others are still owned by the same family and passed down from generation to generation. Here are 11 of the most notable German castles.

Reichsburg Kochem

Castle Reichsburg, located in the picturesque town of Cochem, towers over a majestic view of the city. The castle that stands today is not original. Like many castles in the old world, the present structure was erected on the ruins of former fortifications. The original structure of the 12th century castle was destroyed by the army of King Louis XIV in 1689. In 1868, wealthy businessman Berlin Louis Ravin bought the ruins and built the present castle as a summer residence for his family. Some of the original structures, such as the four-story “witches’ tower,” were incorporated into the new building. According to legend, the witches’ tower was used as a place where women were tried for witchcraft, and if they were guilty, they threw the poor from the tower. Today the castle is open to tourists. Those who make the steep ascent from the town will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the town and the Moselle valley.

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Reichsburg Kochem

Schwerin Castle

On an island in the middle of Lake Schwerin lies the fabulous Schwerin Castle. On the site of a former Slavic castle from the year 973, Grand Duke Friedrich Franz II of Mecklenburg-Schwerin commissioned the construction of the present castle. The castle was built in 1857 and has 653 rooms, valuable paintings, sculptures, gilded ceilings and an intricate mosaic floor. Visitors can see the royal hunting and decorative weapons, a collection of porcelain from the royal porcelain manufacturer, the family gallery and admire the gardens surrounding the castle. The Grand Duke hired four of Germany’s most famous architects of the time to build this castle, and today it is considered one of the most beautiful in Germany. The castle consists of 5 buildings and is the best example of European historical architecture.

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Schwerin Castle

Linderhof Palace

King Ludwig Otto Friedrich Wilhelm, simply called King Ludwig II, financed the construction of a number of castles. The only Ludwig castle whose construction was fully completed is the Linderhof. The castle, known as the royal villa, is an extension of the hunting lodge of his father, King Maximilian II. In 1874, Ludwig took the Königsheuschen gatehouse, dismantled it and moved it to the current site of the castle. The original wooden lodge was transformed by adding stone to the exterior as well as a vestibule and staircase. The palace, completed in 1878, has a hidden grotto with a shell-shaped boat on an underground lake illuminated by bright lights. Ludwig built a mirrored hall and 2 tapestry rooms in the castle . As in many German castles, it is forbidden to take pictures inside the castle.

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Linderhof Palace

Wartburg Castle

Wartburg Castle, built in the Middle Ages in 1067, is located on a hill overlooking the town of Eisenach. Founded by Ludwig der Springer, the castle was further developed under the Ludwinger family who ruled the area for over 200 years. One of the castle’s most famous residents was Martin Luther. After being excommunicated by the Pope, Luther found refuge in the castle and lived under the protection of the Ludwinger family. At this time Luther translated the New Testament from Greek into German. In 1922 Germany was proclaimed a republic, forcing the German ruling classes to abdicate, and the Wartburg Foundation was created, which took on the responsibility of maintaining the castle and still exists today. The castle, built in a combination of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Historical styles, includes the Great Hall, created as living quarters for the counts of Thuringia and artifacts from the Middle Ages,

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Wartburg Castle

Nuremberg Imperial Castle

In the Middle Ages, Nuremberg Castle was considered one of the most important imperial castles of the Holy Roman Empire. The Imperial Chapel, built in 1200, is one of the oldest surviving parts of the castle. The site consists of three areas: the imperial castle, the municipal buildings of the imperial city and some of the surviving buildings of the Burgrave’s House of Nuremberg, which was part of the Holy Roman Empire. After the fall of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, King Ludwig I of Bavaria began rebuilding the castle as a place of residence. He soon abandoned the reconstruction, but royal apartments were built during the reign of his son Maximilian . After the war in 1866, King William I of Prussia received the rights to the castle from Ludwig II and stayed there several times. In 1945, at the end of World War II, most of the castle was in ruins, but the complex was rebuilt to its former glory. The castle is open to the public and visitors can learn about the history and the restoration efforts that took place after the war.

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Nuremberg Imperial Castle

Burghausen Castle

Burghausen Castle, whose history dates back to the Bronze Age, is the longest castle in Europe and one of the largest in the world. The present castle dates from 1025, but as early as 600 there was a large wooden fortification built by the dukes of Bavaria. In 1255 the castle became the second residence of the dukes of Lower Bavaria, and between 1392 and 1503 fortifications were built around the entire hill. At more than 1,000 m long, most of the castle’s medieval buildings have been preserved to this day. The castle complex is divided into five courtyards originally protected by moats. The main castle is protected by a fortress, towers and high walls, and includes a knight’s hall and a dining room with heating. Today the castle has two museums where visitors can learn about the history of the city and a House of Photography with pictures and cameras.

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Burghausen Castle

Schloss Eltz

Schloss Elz is located in the Mosul valley near the town of Koblenz: it is one of the few castles that has never been damaged by war and is still in very good condition. Surrounded on three sides by the river Elzbach, the castle stands on a 70 m high cliff. The original medieval castle dates back to the 12th century and has been permanently occupied by one family. The current inhabitants are the 33rd generation of the Eltz family, who live in two-thirds of the castle. The remainder of the castle is open to the public. Many of the original furnishings of the last 8 centuries are on display here, as well as a treasury and arsenal containing works of world-class gold and silver art. Visitors to the castle over the years have included various emperors, kings, dukes and duchesses. Poet Victor Hugo visited the castle and wrote about it. In addition, the president of Germany and the first ladies of America – Lady Bird Johnson and Rosalind Carter visited Elz.

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Schloss Eltz

Marienberg Castle

Founded by the Celts around 650 AD, the city of Würzburg is the site of Marienberg Fortress. The fortress was built on the site of Germany’s oldest church, and the Marienkirche with its blue dome is the oldest part of the fortress. The building was originally erected to protect the Celts . It was attacked on many occasions and during the Peasants’ Wars by over 15,000 men, but it was never breached. During the Second World War, the castle was badly damaged but it was restored thanks to the restoration work that continued until 1990. Throughout history, the bishop princes of Würzburg used the castle as a residence, and today there are two museums on the site. The Meinfrankisches Museum houses works of art, including sculptures and other treasures. The princely wing of the Fürstenbau Museum contains exhibits from the history of Würzburg.

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Marienberg Castle

Lichtenstein Castle

At first glance, Lichtenstein Castle conjures up images of dragons and knights in shining armor guarding the castle on horseback and defeating invading enemies. The castle was built in 1390 and held out against all attacks, but then fell into disrepair and was dismantled. The present castle was built by Count Wilhelm of Württemberg. The Neo-Gothic Castle of the Knights, was inaugurated in 1842 in the presence of the king. The castle, located on a cliff near Honau in the Swabian Alps, can be accessed by trestle. The castle is still privately owned by the Dukes of Urach, but is open to the public. The building is known as the “fairytale castle of Württemberg”, where visitors can stroll through the gardens, take a tour of the armory, visit the knight’s hall and the chapel with paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries. The chapel is often rented for weddings and concerts are held in the courtyard.

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Lichtenstein Castle

Schloss Albrechtsburg

Schloss Albrechtsburg is located in the center of Meißen, on a hill above the River Elbe. The building was built in 929 by Germany’s first king, Henry I. Construction of the present castle began in 1471. Built solely as a residence, the castle, along with the adjoining cathedral, is a popular tourist attraction. The castle, which is important in the history of Saxony, has been open to the public since 1881. World famous Meissen porcelain had been produced here since 1710, until 1863 when the manufacturer moved the production facilities to the city center. It presents an exhibition of Meissen porcelain spanning three centuries, including porcelain for the Russian Empress Catherine the Great and the centerpiece for King Augustus III. The castle is open daily except for December 24-25.

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Schloss Albrechtsburg

Schloss Neuschwanstein

Neuschwanstein is not only Germany’s most famous castle but it is probably the most famous castle in the world. Built by King Ludwig II of Bavaria, it was part of a series of castles and was intended as a place of relaxation where kings would take a break from exhausting work. Construction of the castle began in 1868. The building was set on a rock, and during its construction it was necessary to remove several meters of stone outcrop and build an access road. It took almost a year before the first stone was laid in the foundation. The castle has an indoor grotto with artificial rocks and flowing waterfalls, and the walls are decorated with frescoes depicting characters and legends from Wagner’s operas. Disney said that this castle was his inspiration for creating Castle for Cinderella. As rich as the Castle was, it was never fully completed. Of the more than 200 rooms planned for construction, only 14 were completed.

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Schloss Neuschwanstein

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