Fortified with a multitude of towers and turrets, Hohenzollern Castle sits in splendour almost 900 metres above the Swabian Alb. This is a storybook fortress from the heyday of the neo-Gothic.
On a balmy summer evening in 1819, the 24-year-old Prussian Crown Prince saw the crumbling walls of his forefathers' castle and decided to have it rebuilt. The future king Friedrich Wilhelm IV of Prussia was a clever, enterprising man with a passion for the fine arts. His heart belonged to the Middle Ages, which led him to commission leading Berlin architect Friedrich August Stüler to rebuild the castle. Stüler sought inspiration from medieval architecture in France and England, where the Gothic Revival or neo-Gothic style was very much in vogue. Building work began in 1852 and the restoration was completed in 1867. There are 140 rooms in the castle, most notably the library with its murals, the King's bedroom, a family tree hall and the Queen's Blue Salon. This has a stunning gilded coffered ceiling, an exquisite marquetry floor and portraits of Prussian queens. Prussian memorabilia displayed in the royal treasury includes the crown worn by Kaiser Wilhelm II. A painted Hohenzollern family tree adorns the walls of the castle's entrance hall. The Prussian kings, German emperors and their descendants are documented through to the present day. Nearby attractions: don't miss Ulm Münster, whose spire is the tallest in the world at just over 161 metres. Most of the building work was completed between 1377 and 1543 and it has retained its original character to this day. The town of Villingen-Schwenningen has a medieval centre, an early-Gothic minster, a late-Gothic town hall, the Franciscan Museum and a town hall to discover.