Magnificent halls, imposing walls and picturesque gardens: Germany is the country of palaces and castles. Due to the many small states that existed once in the Federal Republic of Germany, there are about 15,000 of these manors to be found there. In the following, we will introduce you to the most beautiful of the many and even take a look beyond the borders of Germany.
Palaces and Castles in Bavaria
“Fairy Tale King” Ludwig II, in his time, gave his best efforts to exhaust Bavaria's financial funds with his obsession with magnificent buildings. His most famous work being Neuschwanstein Castle, one of Germany's most popular tourist attractions. The palace, which sits picturesquely close to the town of Füssen on a hill in Schwangau, was built in 1868. It was designed in a medieval style, but was equipped with what was then considered the hight of technology: One of the very first telephones was supposedly installed there. Because of its exceptional architecture, Neuschwanstein was one of the finalists of the "New7Wonders of the World" – a campaign in the 2000s, where millions of people world wide voted on “new” Wonders of the World and ranked Neuschwanstein on place 8. If you take a trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, you can stop by the smaller, but no less impressive Hohenschwangau Castle in the immediate vicinity.
King Ludwig II of Bavaria was also responsible for the construction of Herrenchiemsee Palace, located on the island of the same name in the Chiemsee lake. The “Bavarian Versailles” was an homage to the French King Louis XIV. Not only the complex itself is an experience, but also the journey there – it can only be reached by ship. However, the only palace built by King Ludwig II, that he himself actually witnessed completed, is Linderhof Palace in southwest Bavaria near Ettal Abbey. Not to be missed there are the pompous Hall of Mirrors and the famous “blue bedroom” of the Fairy Tale King.
In Bayreuth, the Hermitage with its historic park, many hidden corners, and water features casts a spell over all visitors. The Old Palace was built in 1715 by Margrave Georg Wilhelm, the New Palace to its west, often referred to as the "Sun Temple", a little later. One of the highlights of the complex is the annual summer night party, one of the most beautiful of its kind in Germany. The “Ruined Theater” at the Old Palace is still used for various performances today.
Palaces and Castles in Baden-Württemberg
A trip to the ancestral seat of the House of Hohenzollern in Baden-Württemberg is well worth it. Even today the premises between Hechingen and Bisingen are owned by the descendants of the Prussian royal family. Hohenzollern Castle offers treasure rooms, fortifications, chapels and everything else a proper castle needs. The show stopper here is the display of the Prussian royal crown of Wilhelm II – a jewel of near immeasurable worth. Today the castle is used, among other things, for cultural events and concerts, as well as a small Christmas market.
Around one million people visit the Heidelberg Castle ruins each year, sitting on the hillside above the city with its Baroque style gardens. Since the castle was continually expanded over the centuries, it features a culmination of different architectural styles ranging from Gothic to Renaissance to Romanticism. The German Pharmacy Museum is located in the basement, teaching you about Germany's pharmaceutical history from the antiquity all the way to the 21st century. You get up to the castle via funicular railway.
Visitors to Solitude Palace in Stuttgart can truly immerse themselves in the Baroque era. During a guided tour by his mistress, you can get to know the hunting seat of Carl Eugen, Duke of Württemberg, with particular intensity. As customary for the period around 1760, the complex was designed symmetrically and, in addition to the pavilion-like main building, has a series of outbuildings and a double staircase.
Palaces and Castles in Central and Northern Germany
“Sleeping Beauty Castle” Sababurg
You will feel like you walked into a fairy tale when visiting Sababurg Castle in Hesse. The castle ruin is also known as the "Sleeping Beauty Castle" due to its high, long thorny hedge. The 700 year old structure lies romantically embedded into the primeval forest nature reserve of Sababurg, surrounded by oak trees up to 1000 years old. It's no wonder that the first ever registry office outside of a town hall in Germany was established there. However, if you're not ready to tie the knot just yet, you can invite your beloved to a romantic dinner in the restaurant.
The Baroque Moritzburg in Saxony is also quite fairy tale like. The property was the main set for the 1973 film "Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella", which became very popular in Central Europe. Every year from November onward, you can learn more about the background of the fairy tale during the castle's winter exhibition. Also worth seeing are the sensational Treasure Find from 1996 and the historic Porcelain Quarter.
Not fairy tales, but German history was written in the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach. In today's best-preserved Romanesque secular building north of the Alps, the outlawed Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German within only ten weeks in 1521. Around 300 years later in 1817, 500 students fought for a united German nation-state at Wartburg Castle. Since 1999, the complex has been listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site and it houses one of Thuringia's most important concert halls, as well as a historic Christmas market every year.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site Sanssouci Palace with its 290 hectare park is the oldest preserved building in Potsdam's cultural landscape and one of the most famous tourist attractions in Brandenburg. The name Sanssouci stands for "without worries", the mission statement of Friedrich the Great. The original Baroque garden was transformed into a landscape park over the course of time and was supplemented by the Orangery, the Roman baths and Charlottenhof Palace - expressions of Friedrich Wilhelm IV's love of Italy.
Located on an island, similar to Herrenchiemsee, is magnificent Schwerin Palace. The former medieval castle was converted into a palace in the 16th century and still houses the seat of the Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania state parliament and a museum.
Quick-Look: Germany's Most Beautiful
|Palace / Castle
|New Herrenchiemsee Palace
|Sababurg Sleeping Beauty Castle
The list of must-see castles and palaces in Germany goes on and on. HERE you can find them all in one place!
Must-See Palaces and Castles in Europe
Royal families have left their splendid mark all over Europe. One of the most beautiful Baroque ensembles in the world is the Belvedere in Vienna. The former residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy consists of two palaces, Lower and Upper Belvedere, as well as a strictly symmetrical palace garden. The interior distinguishes itself by its impressive marble halls.
The Austrian rulers were also active in other countries. In 1890, Empress Elisabeth, known as "Sissi", had the Achilleion built in Pompeian style on the Greek island of Corfu and used it as a retreat. Throughout her life, the Empress traveled there alone. The complex is dedicated to the Greek god Achilles - his statues can be found everywhere on the site.
Today Windsor Castle is still the favorite of Queen Elizabeth II. The estate in London is the largest and oldest inhabited castle in the world. The British royal family still regularly hosts celebrations in the St. George's Hall in Windsor Castle. It is said that employees there use rulers to precisely set the large table.
A visit to Edinburgh Castle is a must, when taking a trip to Scotland. The first official mention of the castle dates as far back as 1093. Focal points include the so-called "Honours of Scotland", the crown jewels of Scotland, as well as the 152 kg red sandstone block in the Coronation Chair, the "Stone of Scone". And every year the Edinburgh Millitary Tattoo, Scotland's largest music festival, takes place in front of the castle.
Palace of Versailles
A royal court of more than a thousand people once lived in the Palace of Versailles. This construction by Sun King Louis XIV is said to have cost about 100 million euros and was the political center of absolutist France. In 1871 King William I was proclaimed emperor of Germany there, and in 1919 the signing of the Versailles peace treaty marked the end of World War I.