Castles in Germany come straight out of a fairy tale. Many of these castles have experienced architectural struggles over the centuries — from revolts to wars. The majority have since been restored to their former glory.
There is a difference between a “Schloss” and a “Burg”. A Burg is a fortress or a castle designed for defence in battle, whereas a Schloss is a palace designed as a residence.
This hilltop behemoth was built in 1267 by the Prussian Royal family. Over the years, it was destroyed many times and even completed destroyed in 1423. The castle we see today was rebuilt by King Frederick William IV of Prussia.
Till today, the same family owns and lives in it. The Prince of Prussia and his wife keep their castle open to the public and the Prussian flag proudly flies from it.
Known as the Dragon fortress, this is now a private palace on Drachenfels hill near the city of Bonn. The palace was built by Baron Stephan von Sarter, who planned to live there but never did. It is now owned by the State Founder of North Rhine-Westphalia of Germany. You can visit the palace from the outside, taking the Drachenfels Railway to the entrance.
If you walk up further, you will find an abandoned fort on the top of the hill.
Sitting on an island in the middle of Germany’s third largest lake, Schweriner Castle is nicknamed the “Neuschwanstein of the North”. Built-in 973 AD, the castle was home to the dukes and grand dukes of the area. The castle is regarded as one of the most important works of romantic Historicism in Europe and designated to become a World Heritage Site.
Burg Eltz (Eltz Castle)
Another castle near the Rhine, Burg Eltz is a medieval fairy-tale like castle in the hills between Koblenz and Trier. It’s still owned by the Eltz family and has been in their hands of over 33 generations! This is one of the 3 castles along the Rhine that were never destroyed. The other 2 are Schloss Bürresheim and Lissingen Castle. You will need a car or hike to access it.
The largest palace in Berlin, the palace includes lavish decoration in the baroque and rococo styles. It was commissioned by Sophie Charlotte, the wife of Duke of Prussia Friedrich III. When she died, the Duke changed the palace to Charlottenburg in her memory. Like Versailles in Paris, the garden of the palace is a major tourist attraction.
Heidelberg Castle is among the most important Renaissance structures in the north of the Alps. The earliest castle structure was built before 1214. Due to wears of wars, fires and even lightning bolts, the castle is repaired and rebuilt again and again. Today, it is one of the most attractive ruins in Germany and even a popular wedding spot!
Lichtenstein Castle (Württemberg)
Another fairytale castle in Baden-Württemberg, this Gothic Revival style castle is near Stuttgart. Like all other castles, it was built a long time ago (1200), destroyed and rebuilt (19th century). The rebuilt was inspired by the 1826 novel Lichtenstein of Wilhelm Hauff. The name translates to “shining stone”.
This castle may not be the prettiest but it is the longest castle and one of the biggest in Europe. It is created in the gothic style. Since it is so damn long, the best way to admire it is having a panoramic view of the area. Ps: It’s really super long, over 1000m in length!
We can’t ignore the biggest castle in North Rhine Westphalia, aka “Versailles of Germany”. The architectural history and spacious ground are so exceptional, you cannot miss it! It was also originally one of the residences of Prince-Bishopric of Münster.
Lastly, not forgetting the castle that inspired Cinderella, it’s this undeniable Bavarian favourite. King of Bavaria Ludwig II built the castle in order to withdraw from public life after losing his title post-Austro-Prussian War. Construction began in 1868 and took quite a long time to finish. In fact, King Ludwig never saw the completed work of Schloss Neuschwanstein!