Of towering battlements, chivalrous knights and beautiful maidens – it all began with the castle
Tournaments were won within their walls, battles were fought outside, and there was singing, laughing and merriment. Castles were centres of power and courtly life. To this day, they are the best places to learn about life in the Middle Ages.
Stolpen Castle, which was first mentioned in 1222, takes you on a journey back through the centuries. The complex encompasses a castle chapel, several towers which can be climbed to the top, a torture chamber, a theatre and the world's deepest basalt well.
Probably the most famous German insult comes from Goethe's play, 'Götz von Berlichingen'. We can't mention what it is here, but the historical model for this rambunctious knight lived at Hornberg Castle in North Baden in the 16th century, where – unlike his literary counterpart – he died at 82, a rare age for those times.
One of Germany's best-preserved castles, known as the 'Franconian Crown', Coburg Fortress towers high above the border between Upper Franconia and Thuringia. A frequent visitor to the castle in the 16th century was Lucas Cranach the Elder who came here to gather ideas and produce sketches.
Originally built as a Gothic fortification, Burghausen Castle bears witness to an exciting chapter in Bavarian history. It has stood sentinel over the surrounding countryside for more than a thousand years.
The city's famous landmark, the Franconian Kaiserburg Castle sits in splendour above Nuremberg with its wealth of art treasures and museums. It is one of the most significant imperial palaces of the Middle Ages.
Königstein Fortress is one of the largest hilltop fortresses in Europe. Because of the sheer scale of the walls, no enemy dared to attack its defences, which were continually being reinforced. The fortress overlooks the river Elbe from atop a wooded plateau covering 9.5 hectares – a rugged, rocky formation typical of the Elbe Sandstone Massif.
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