22 Famous Castles in Germany | Best Castles to See

Neuschwanstein CastleOne of the most popular activities for tourists visiting Germany is visiting some of the country’s remarkable castles. There are over 25,000 castles and palaces throughout the country; some are in ruins, but others are in magnificent condition. Visitors can tour many of them; in some, you can even have dinner or spend the night.

History of Castles in Germany

The erection of castles in what would become Germany began around 900 to 1,000 A.D. At that time, the European countryside was divided up into small feudal territories rather than the distinct countries we are familiar with today.

Castles and palaces were erected for defensive reasons, to protect the leaders of each feudal state, as well as the villagers under their protection, from attacks by competing lords.

After this period was over, the castles and palaces often became seats of government or landed in the hands of wealthy occupants. Others fell into disrepair and ruin. Many of them have restored and preserved so that their beauty can be admired and shared; Germany’s castles are a major source of tourism revenue.

When Americans think of castles, the image of the Disney Cinderella castle comes to mind, but what most people don’t realize is that it was modeled after a real Bavarian castle built by Ludwig II, the King of Bavaria, who was sometimes known as Mad King Ludwig.

Although it is not known whether Ludwig was actually insane, he was certainly eccentric. His two passions were the composer Wagner and the construction of castles that were extreme flights of fancy.

The Most Famous Castle in Germany

The best known of these is the castle known as Neuschwanstein; unlike the ancient German castles, this castle was built for pleasure rather than protection.

Ludwig built it for himself as a summer castle and equipped it with modern conveniences, included toilets that flush. It is characterized by soaring spires, and is built high on a mountaintop.

Because of its remote location in southeast Bavaria, it escaped damage during both world wars, and the Nazis used it as a place to store stolen works of art during the war.

In 1945 they ordered that the castle be destroyed in order to prevent what they considered to be a German treasure from falling into enemy hands, but the people made responsible for the demolition didn’t carry out their orders.

Today the castle is open to the public and is one of Germany’s most visited sites; it has received over 50,000,000 visitors since it was built.

Map of the Best Castles in Germany

Famous German Castles

Neuschwanstein Castle

Heidelberg Palace

Hohenzollern Castle

Lichtenstein Castle

Eltz Castle

Wernigerode Castle

Cochem Castle

Imperial Castle of Nuremberg

Burghausen Castle

Schwerin Castle

Hohenschwangau Castle

Rheinstein Castle

Wartburg Castle

Schloss Drachenburg

Marksburg

Marienburg Castle

Landgrafen Palace

Sigmaringen Castle

Stolzenfels Castle

Schloss Johannisburg

Burg Eltz

Schloss Heidelberg

Schloss Heidelberg

See Related: Best Things to do in Heidelberg

Updated: April 3, 2021 — 10:01 pm

The Author

The German Tourists

We are The German Tourists. We love everything about German food, beer and travel. So, why not provide you all the information that we've learned and explored in Germany along the way.