Several thousand castles, fortresses, and manors are scattered across Germany. We recommend hidden highlights that you can discover away from the usual tourist crowds.
Braunfels Castle, Hessen
How many towers does Braunfels Castle have, dominating the silhouette of the spa town of the same name in the Taunus? At least 20, and they come in all shapes and sizes! This historic building has been in family ownership for almost 800 years, and its museum showcases weapons, uniforms, silver and porcelain. The best thing to do is to join a guided tour: there is even a "Master Tour" and interactive walks.
Hochburg Castle, Baden-Württemberg
Weathered walls, tree-covered ramparts, a moat with a green biotope: the ruins of the Hochburg near Emmendingen date back to a 12th-century fortress. For over 50 years, a society has been committed to the preservation of the site, including setting up a small museum which is home to an interesting collection of stone monuments.
Mespelbrunn Castle, Bavaria
Since the Middle Ages, the densely-wooded hills of the Spessart in northern Bavaria have been shrouded in wild legends of highway men. The mysterious Mespelbrunn moated castle from the 15th century fits perfectly into this setting Not only can you stop for a bite to eat here, you can even spend the night in the historic mill with a view of the castle.
Lichtenstein Castle, Baden-Württemberg
Bavaria has Neuschwanstein, Thuringia boasts Wartburg Castle – and in the Swabian Alb, the fairytale-like Lichtenstein Castle perches on a rocky spur. "Württemberg's fairytale castle" pays tribute to the Middle Ages, with its Knight's Hall and King's Chamber, wooden drawbridge and tower with a panoramic view. No wonder it is said to have its own resident castle ghost.
Bergedorf Castle, Hamburg
No kings, no princes: for most of its history, Hamburg's only castle served as an administrative centre – perhaps that's why it looks so formidable. Today, a museum documents the history of the site, hosting concerts, film evenings, and other events. The castle park and its lake are also worth visiting.
Satzvey Castle, North Rhine-Westphalia
When the towers, walls, battlements and the magnificent gatehouse of Satzvey Castle are reflected in the water, this Rhineland castle reveals its most beautiful side. The High Middle Ages, Late Middle Ages and Romantic era are regularly brought to life here through knight games, witch festivals or the castle Christmas market, with the hustle and bustle of market stalls, battle re-enactments, storytellers, jugglers and contemporary food.
Pfalzgrafenstein Castle, Rhineland-Palatinate
To the right: water, to the left: water: Pfalzgrafenstein Castle was built as a watch and customs toll station, in the middle of a rocky island in the Rhine, near Kaub. With its ship-like form and pentagonal keep, Pfalzgrafenstein is a popular subject for photos – and even the ferry ride to it is part of the experience.
Kriebstein Castle, Saxony
Over 600 years old, Kriebstein Castle is one of the most beautiful knights' castles in Saxony and has been the setting for exciting stories and anecdotes. Today, you can once again see the castle's treasure that for a long time was hidden away up a chimney. Or the Kriebstein Room, whose plank walls with their valuable late Gothic paintings were only returned back to their rightful place at the end of the 1990s.
Merseburg Castle, Saxony-Anhalt
Royal palace, bishop's seat, ducal residence: Merseburg Castle looks back on an impressive history. With its portals, bay windows and coat of arms plaques, this extensive complex is considered one of the most important examples of the late Renaissance. In addition to its cultural-historical museum, the castle garden also invites you to take a stroll.
Castles in Münsterland, North Rhine-Westphalia
Are you looking for splendour? Then a visit to Nordkirchen Castle, the "Versailles of Westphalia", is essential. Or should it also be in nature? Then Loburg Castle, with its English garden, is just the place for you. More than 100 castles, fortresses, and manors make Münsterland a paradise for architecture fans – and you can discover these on the four circuits of the 100 Castles and Palaces Route.