Germany is the ultimate castle and palace destination. If you are a lover of these magnificent, regal structures then this European country is the place for you. Take a tour of some of the most well-known Schlösser—‘castles’ in German—like King Ludwig’s or the Neuschwanstein Castle, or simply drive through the country side for a glimpse at the many historical palaces that dot the landscape. Here are five of the best castles and palaces to visit during your German holiday.
Schloss Hohenschwangau was the home of King Ludwig II, who was King of Bavaria from 1864 until 1886, and who was often referred to as the Swan King or the Fairy Tale King. This beloved German King grew up at Schloss Hohenschwangau, which stands out for its remarkable yellow colouring. Not only is the exterior of this castle an unbelievable sight, but to this day, every piece of furniture is still a used original. As a result, while this one is definitely less showy than many other German palaces, there is a distinct lived-in feel at the Hohenschwangau Castle that is unlike other royal home in this region. Enjoy this incredible piece of history with a guided tour, offered in both English and German for A$20.
The Heidelberg Castle towers over the Old Town of Altstadt. This ruined Renaissance castle is a romantic structure, especially at night when lights illuminate the ancient palace and it can be seen across the Neckar River. Heidelberg Castle offers magnificent views as a famous ruin and landmark of the city of Heidelberg. It is also home to the world’s largest wine cask, with a capacity of about 228000L. To reach this castle, you will venture up a steep, cobbled trail or take the cogwheel train from Konmarkt. While the trek to the castle seems daunting, the far-reaching view from the top is most definitely worth it once you have sight over the Neckar River and the Altstadt rooftops. Enjoy all this for only $A10.
The Neuschwanstein Castle is one of Germany’s most well-known, as it inspired the castle in one of Disney’s famous animated movies, ‘A Sleeping Beauty’. This romantic, medieval castle was commissioned by King Ludwig II in 1868 to be built on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. Ludwig had intended the castle to be a retreat, and he paid for the palace out of his personal fortune. However, the castle was opened to the public immediately after his death in 1886 and since then, more than 61 million people have visited this monumental palace. Considering the popularity of this castle and its origin as the inspiration for Disney, one can only imagine the magnificence and beauty of this structure. It stands tall among the mountains and proudly rises above a forest of mountain pines. Experience the Neuschwanstein Castle in all its glory on a guided tour for A$15.
If you are looking for a truly historical castle that is important to German culture, than the Wartburg castle is your ideal destination. This huge medieval castle is where Martin Luther went into hiding in 1521 after being banned from the church, and it is where he translated the New Testament of the Bible into German. Budget in at least two hours to visit this significant site: one for the guided tour (A$13), and the rest for the museum and exploring the grounds. This World Heritage site is still the most-visited tourist attraction in Thuringia, Germany. This outstanding palace is immersed in surrounding forests and is in many ways the ‘ideal castle’ because it gives a very realistic idea of what a fortress might have been like during the medieval period.
The Charlottenburg palace is Berlin’s largest palace and is also considered the city’s grandest royal home. The palace was built at the end of the 17th century and was nearly doubled in size during the 18th century. The architecture of this palace is very beautiful and impressive but Charlottenburg is more often known for its gardens. The gardens were designed in 1697 and are still intact today. A walk through the remarkable grounds includes adventuring alongside the moats, ponds and enormous walkways. The palace and grounds are a major visitor attraction, and while parts of the interior are open to visitors for a price of A$20, definitely travel to the palace of Charlottenburg on a day during which you can spend most of your time outdoors. There are very few royal gardens still preserved and maintained like those of Charlottenburg.
You cannot visit Germany without experiencing the history behind this country, and touring the castles and palaces scattered throughout is a perfect way to learn about and experience Germany’s background. Not only are these royal structures historically significant, but they are easily some of the most beautiful and extraordinary buildings throughout the country. Do not forget to pack your camera or smartphone in order to capture the exquisiteness of these regal structures. At the same time, make sure you purchase international travel insurance beforehand so you can travel the country at ease and spend your time exploring the gorgeous architecture of the magnificent castles and palaces.
Image courtesy of Flickr user MattJP; cropped from original