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Hohenzollern Castle

Traveling only by train, it seems Hohenzollern Castle is out of the way from anything on the recommended itinerary. I'm thinking of flying in to Frankfurt and spending first night in Cochem followed by the second night in Heidelberg before heading down to Baden-Baden. Two questions:

1) Is Hohenzollern Castle worth seeing?
2) Should I make sure I see Rick Steve's favorite Eltz Castle - Thus modifying the above first few days?

Posted by
1592 posts

I‘ve been twice when I‘ve been in Tubingen. That was fine, but I wouldn‘t go far out of the way if you aren‘t driving.

Posted by
17936 posts

I wouldn‘t go far out of the way if you aren‘t driving.

I don't see where driving has anything to do with whether you should see it. Hechingen is well served on several train lines, one coming out from Stuttgart. There are regularly scheduled buses from the station at Hechingen to the base of the hill the castle sits on. I arrived at an odd time and took a taxi to the hill.

Having seen both, I would say it's at least as worthwhile seeing as Baden-Baden.

However, like Neuschwanstein and the Reichsburg, it is a late 19th century recreation. However, the Hohenzollerns have had a castle on that hill since 1000 years ago. The current one was built in the 1800s to improve the prestige of the Hohenzollerns, whose King, Wilhelm, was vying to be made Kaiser of the newly forming German nation. Perched on that hilltop, it commands the surrounding area and is an imposing edifice. It replaced an earlier castle that was abandoned after the thirty year war, when canons made castles obsolete.

Having also seen the attraction at Heidelberg, I would say that Hohenzollernburg is more worthwhile seeing. Even though it might not have served as a "castle", it is certainly in the style of a castle, whereas Heidelberg, although romanticized, is just a collection of loosely defended palaces that were often, and easily, conquered by the French.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you for the great information. Especially the advise of Hohenzollern versus Heidelberg!

Posted by
5128 posts

"Modifying the above first few days" sounds very reasonable to me. I have a couple suggestions.

First, I will side with Lee on the limitations of a stay in Baden-Baden. It's a casino/spa town. If those things aren't must-does on your list, you might give it a skip. The B-B rail station is a lengthy bus ride from town and inconvenient for coming and going, BTW.

Day 1: The scenic trip to Cochem along the Rhine and Mosel Rivers (be sure to route yourselves that way) is a worthwhile thing to do on Day 1 as long as you can handle being underway for an additional 2.5 hours or so after your overnight flight into FRA. But I think a second night there is a very good idea. It's the most charming town you have named so far - you'll want to spend some time just wandering around. And there are some nice things to see/do there, things like the Bundesbank Bunker, wineries, nearby Burg Eltz, Cochem's chairlift ride, and the 1-hr. river cruise to Beilstein.

Burg Eltz will eat up a lot of time. I like it very much, but you won't squeeze in a whole lot more on the same day. To see Eltz and do more as well, Cochem might be worth a 3rd night, actually.

With your interest in castles - and perhaps limited time - I think a trip out to Hohenzollern misses the mark. The best-preserved medieval castle in the Rhine/Mosel region is probably the never-destroyed Marksburg Castle (near Koblenz in the town of Braubach.) It's quite different from Burg Eltz (which is more museum-like and heavy on furnishings from later periods.) Marksburg provides a more authentic medieval atmosphere and experience. So, after Cochem, whether you are on your way to Heidelberg or Baden-Baden or wherever, I suggest you make a stopover in Braubach. This isn't too tricky.

Cochem > Koblenz by direct train; stow bags in locker
Koblenz > Braubach by direct train (10 min.) See town and Marksburg.
Braubach > Koblenz to fetch bags and move onward by train.

There are many other castles in this area and others you might visit, but you can't do better in Germany than Marksburg and Eltz, IMHO.

Marksburg offers English tours at 1 and 4pm, in normal years. Visitor info page:
https://www.marksburg.de/en/visitor-information/#/

Posted by
12252 posts

The castle is not out of the way when one goes by train, coming from Ulm or Stuttgart or Tübingen. If you're interested in Prussian history, it is worth seeing. I would skip Baden Baden.