There is no shame in confessing that we have all imagined ourselves as royalty. Instead of kissing frogs or hoping to be swept off your feet by a foreign prince, construct your own happily ever after by touring the most gorgeous castles in Germany.
These castles inspired the Grimm Brothers, and its turrets, towers, and drawbridges will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time or into a fairy tale. These locations have been selected as the greatest to visit based on their aesthetic appeal, historical relevance, diversity, and visitor experience. They offer more than adequate justification to include Germany on one’s list of countries to visit while in Europe.
Here’s a selection of the top castles in Germany to help you plan a vacation with the whole family.
1. Nueschwanstein Castle
Nueschwanstein was conceived by “Mad” King Ludwig of Bavaria as a dream escape from the world, and its architectural and decorative palette encompasses myth, Romantic literature, grand opera, and Teutonic chivalry. The outcome is a mixture of neo-Romanesque, neo-Gothic, and fairy tale architecture, with spires, turrets, battlements, and pitched roofs atop a rocky crag surrounded by woodland.
As though painted on a backdrop for this stage set, a jagged line of Alpine foothills rises behind the castle and frames its windows with beautiful vistas. Before Ludwig’s death in 1886, only 15 of the castle’s planned 200 rooms were constructed, yet “rooms” scarcely communicates the vastness or majesty of the completed halls. Murals, mosaics, arcades, and carved oak adorn the Throne Room, Singers’ Hall, Ludwig’s chamber, and other majestic rooms. Nueschwanstein is without a doubt one of the world’s most fascinating castles.
2. Hohenzollern Castle
The ancestral house of the German imperial family, the House of Hohenzollern, is Hohenzollern Castle. Originally constructed in the early 1200s, the fortress was demolished in 1423. A larger and fortified replacement was constructed in 1454, but it had fallen into ruin by the turn of the nineteenth century. The Hohenzollern family still owns and resides in the castle, which is open to tourists year-round. Guided tours of the show- and staterooms offer views of the royal family’s past, as well as royal valuables, gold and silver work, paintings, and royal garments.
3. Heidelberg Castle
The enormous red sandstone The Heidelberg Castle is one of the finest examples of German Renaissance architecture still standing. It occupies a dominating position on the slope right above Heidelberg’s Old Town, over 200 meters below, and forms a backdrop visible from nearly every location in the city and along the Neckar River. You may see the castle courtyard, a pharmacy museum, and a seven-meter-tall barrel in the cellar on regular tours of the interior. In the courtyard, concerts, shows, and festivals are staged, and three times each summer there are massive fireworks displays.
4. Lichtenstein Castle
On the ancient foundation walls of a medieval knights’ fortress, Lichtenstein Castle was built by Count Wilhelm of Württemberg, Duke of Urach, who was inspired by Wilhelm Hauff’s love novel Lichtenstein. Just an hour’s drive south of Stuttgart, Lichtenstein Castle is a picturesque hunting castle with expansive views of the Echaz Valley and Swabian Alps. With meticulous attention to detail, Lichtenstein Castle’s neo-Gothic building is the ideal tribute to the Middle Ages. Despite the fact that there are several castles in Germany, this one is quite popular with German tourists.
5. Reichsburg Castle
Reichsburg Castle, also known as Cochem Castle or Reichsburg Cochem, soars 300 feet over the picturesque village of Cochem and the River Moselle. In 1689, King Louis XIV of France ordered his men to demolish Reichsburg Castle, which was believed to date back to 1100. The castle remained a colorful stone ruin for 180 years until 1868, when wealthy Berlin industrialist Louis Ravené purchased the ruins and reconstructed the structure. Instead of restoring the castle to its former Romanesque design and condition, however, Ravené had his architects construct a Neo-Gothic castle that could serve as his family’s vacation house.
6. Hohenschwangau Castle
Prior to its acquisition by King Ludwig’s father, Maximilian II, in the 19th century, Hohenschwangau Castle had been a royal palace for centuries but had fallen into ruin. Maximilian II reconstructed and redecorated Hohenschwangau Castle in a romantic Gothic style, making it an ideal summer retreat and hunting lodge for his family. The walls of the castle were intricately decorated with Germanic historical stories. Many claim that this influenced King Ludwig’s interest in fairy tales and mythology. After the death of Maximilian II, Ludwig II spent a great deal of time at the castle and constructed apartments in his own image.
7. Drachenburg Castle
The history of Drachenburg Castle is long and intriguing. Built as a private residence in the late 19th century, the affluent banker who commissioned its construction never lived there. Due to an old legend in which a hero slayed a dragon on the same hill, the German name for this castle is “Drachenburg.” The castle’s jumble of architectural styles, though, is perhaps more intriguing than its name. With its dreamlike spires, faux battlements, and square clock tower, Drachenburg Castle appears to be a combination of a medieval castle, a Gothic church, and Big Ben.
8. Bad Muskau Castle
Muskau Park, commonly known as Muskau Castle, is a magnificent oasis of tranquility in the center of Bad Muskau, Saxony. It is one of the newest castles in Germany, having been built in the nineteenth century, which explains its amazing Neo-Renaissance architecture. In fall, when the leaves in the park are as red as the castle’s brickwork, the location is enchanted. You require an additional reason to visit this castle? It is a symbol of the European Union and international harmony, as two-thirds of the estate is located in Poland and one-third in Germany.
9. Schwerin Castle
Schwerin Castle, unlike many other fortified castles that are perched on high slopes or rugged cliffs, is almost fully surrounded by water. Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in northern Germany, is only accessible through a bridge. Its beginnings date back to 973, and since then, a castle has stood on the islands, serving as the residence of the Dukes of Mecklenberg. In the late Gothic period, the dukes transformed the castle into a palace more reflective of their growing wealth and power by replacing some of the fortifications with beautiful extensions; in the mid-1500s, bastions were erected that still stand today.
10. Burg Eltz Castle
The imposing stone and timber Burg Eltz Castle is concealed in a remote, wooded valley and located on a 70-meter-high cliff. Burg Eltz has remained in the care and private ownership of the Eltz family for more than 700 years, who have meticulously conserved the medieval agricultural castle. The castle has many of its original furnishings including gold, silver, and porcelain treasures. Take a trek through the surrounding forest to make the most of your trip to Burg Eltz and appreciate the scenery.