In a country as big and rich in history as Germany, you can be sure to find some of the world’s most spectacular castles – from medieval fortresses to noble palaces. Scattered all across the country, most are steeped in history, and some are still owned by the original families.
From the fairytale-like Neuschwanstein Castle widely recognized across the globe to Instagram-famous Burg Eltz, you can be sure that each place is as awe-inspiring as the other.
Germany is home to the world’s longest castle complex, and many of the country’s castles sit perched high above the surrounding scenery on hills and even cliff edges, graciously overlooking the nearby lands. While some have stood the test of time unaffected, others have been at the very heart of furious battles and wars, luckily, restored to tell the stories of the past.
Here is our list of the 5 Best Castles in Germany.
1. Eltz Castle
If there is one German castle that has risen to popularity in recent years thanks to social media, it’s Eltz Castle in Western Germany. With its picturesque ambiance, surrounded by thick, dark woods, Eltz Castle is a favorite for many photographers and landscape enthusiasts on Instagram.
This medieval castle, unique to the Rhineland-Palatinate region where it is located, was never destroyed, even during the most tumultuous historic periods. To this day the castle remains within the ownership of the initial family. Its one-of-a-kind appearance and the fact that it sits within a valley but still perched on a hill draws in thousands of tourists every month. Walking toward the castle over the cobbled gatehouse entrance, you cannot resist the feeling of being amazed and in awe. You might as well have traveled into a fairytale.
2. Neuschwanstein Castle
Generally, there are two types of castles. Ones that look like strongholds, intended for defensive purposes and sometimes having a ghostly appearance, and others that seem to have come out from a fairytale – magical and other-worldly. Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany belongs to the latter.
This 19th-century Romanesque Revival-style castle is the most visited castle in Germany as well as one of the most picturesque castles in the world. Commissioned and built by Ludwig II of Bavaria, the castle doesn’t just seem like something belonging to a fantasy. It was intended that way. Many of the interior elements within the castle suggest that.
Perched on a hill amidst stunning surroundings, anyone seeing the castle agrees it is awe-inspiring. The castle has served as inspiration for the famous Disney castle as well as that of the Sleeping Beauty.
Hohenzollern Castle, located in Baden-Württemberg in South-West Germany, sits atop Mount Hohenzollern and is the third castle after the first two fell into despair. The construction of the current castle began in 1850. Brandenburg-Prussian and Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen lines funded the building of the castle since they were a part of the Hohenzollern family.
The castle features several architectural styles. There are elements of military architecture which can be seen in the impressive Eagle Gate which then leads to a drawbridge leading to the castle entrance. Within the palace, there are three Gothic Revival buildings. Due to its location, there are incredible views from the castle stretching as far as 100 km away.
Since the mid-20th century, the castle is filled with various historical artifacts and nowadays visitors can enjoy guided tours through this magnificent property, still within the hands of the Hohenzollern family.
4. Marburger Schloss
Marburg Castle or Marburger Schloss not only impressively rises above the old town of Marburg but has also had an intriguing history. This Landgrave castle sits in a strategic position and has changed a lot during centuries, since the first Medieval fortification.
The chapel building, as well as the great hall, remain as one of the most exceptional Gothic halls in Central European castle architecture. The castle altogether features Gothic and late-Gothic elements with Renaissance extensions.
Nowadays the Museum for Cultural History has found its home within the Marburg Castle. Famously, Marburg Castle had a role to play in the discovery of the notorious Marburg Files, which contained important documents from the Nazi government. The discovered files were reviewed within Marburg Castle.
5. Reichsburg/Cochem Castle
Reichsburg or Cochem Castle which overlooks the beautiful Moselle River and the lush green winemaking region of Rhineland-Palatinate in Western Germany is not the original castle from the 12th century. Louis XIV and his army destroyed the old castle in the late 17th century. Left in remains, it stayed that way until the 19th century when Louis Ravené, a successful businessman from Berlin, bought the ruins and rebuilt the castle.
The original castle was built in a Romanesque style. However, the new castle was predominantly rebuilt in a neo-Gothic style with Romanesque and Gothic elements in, for example, the Octagonal Tower and the so-called Witches Tower.
During World War II, Louis Ravené’s son was forced to sell the property the Prussian Ministry of Justice, and a Nazi government-led law school took over the castle. After the war, the castle was owned by the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and later bought by the city of Cochem.