Please sign in to post.

Real Castles/Fortresses In Germany

In Germany in September, showing a rookie traveler around (and I'm not that far removed from rookie status).
Can someone recommend a couple of real castles to visit -- castles with real fighting and defense histories.
Where real fighting took place over the centuries, and opposing forces tried to take them and claim them.
Reason I ask, last year visited King Ludwig and his father's castles in Fussen.
Although nice to look at, not real castles built for fighting and defense.
Or, are real castles just storybook fantasy?

Thanks --- Jim/Lone Tree, Colorado.

Posted by
8889 posts

Real castles really do exist.
The problem is there are just too many, and the ones with real history of fighting are in the worst state because they were actually fought over. See the list here, which is subdivided into lists for each Land (German state) and lists for each "Kreis" (county). Many with real history have been re-built over the centuries, and although they are called "castles", they are now really palaces
Which parts of Germany are you planning on visiting? From that you can look through the list and make a short-list to visit.

My personal favourite is Haut-Kœnigsbourg, first written record of a castle is 1147 AD (it is older than this, but written records didn't exist that far back), destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, destroyed in 1633 by the Swedes (they weren't always as neutral as they are today) and then restored from 1900 to 1908 by the German Emperor. Since 1918 it is in France (they moved the border).

Posted by
12040 posts

Just about any castle ruin, anywhere. Germany has no shortage of these, particularly in the central part of the country. Almost any castle that has not fallen into ruin probably looks the way it does today because somebody maintained and updated it throughout the ages to keep it habitable. There are plenty of castles that never faced the brunt of an invasion but later crumbled because they were not maintained.

But... if you're looking for an intact castle that more or less resembles something like it's orginal appearance with a minimum of latter-day elaborations... here's a few suggestions. By no means should you consider this a comprehensive list of any kind.

Marksburg and Burg Pfalzgrafenstein on the Rhine are both well known and need little introduction, as does Burg Eltz above the Mosel.

It's in an area few tourists will ever visit, but in the Waldeck region of northern Hessen: Felsburg above the small town of Felsberg (note the difference in spelling). The nearby town of Fritzlar is also a great untouristed alternative to over-touristed Rothenburg odT.

Marburger Schloss has been somewhat prettied up over the centuries (as have many of the castles mentioned here), but it more or less maintains it's original structure.

Burg Kronberg in Kronberg im Taunus... same. Never destroyed, but updated throughout the centuries.

Burg Breuberg over the town of the same name in the Odenwald region has undergone only structural repair over the years. It closely resembles it's original form.

Burg Zwingenberg above the Neckar River has some more modern structures mixed with the medieval fortifications.

Burg Trausnitz in Landshut survived completely undamaged into the 20th century, even avoiding the destruction of WWII, but then suffered extensively in an accidental fire in the 1960s. The structure was restored as close to the original as possible, but much of the decorative flourishes are gone forever.

Burg zu Burghausen in Burghausen is the "longest" castle in the world. Much of it is original.

In Franconian Switzerland (a region of northern Bavaria): Burg Pottenstein and Burg Rabeneck look more like thicked-walled houses placed on strategic heights, but I guess they qualify as "castles". Nearby Burg Rabenstein looks more classically "castle-like".

Burg Falkenstein is just one of the relatively unknown gems (to foreign tourists) of the Harz mountain region.

Finally, Veste Coburg, the ancestoral castle of the House of Saxe-Coburg und Gotha (agnates of which now sit on the thrones of Belgium and the UK), was largely rebuilt in the 19th century. But this huge structure is so interesting, and filled with so many weapons that it would be a shame to bypass. I think it's Germany's most interesting castle, personally.

Someone more familiar with Saxony than I can probably mention a few good ones in that federal state.

Posted by
7209 posts

Why don't you spend the night in some of the castles that have been converted to hotels. Our favorites are Castle Colmberg and Castle Veldenstein.

Posted by
20461 posts

Yes Haut Koenigsbourg is great castle in Alsace outside of Selestat. The Swedes positioned cannon on the ridge above the castle where the castle's artillery, firing uphill, couldn't reach. But the Swedes' artillery, firing downhill could reach the castle gate. Good bye castle. That was the Thirty Years War.
Many of the castles and fortresses in the Rhine valley were destroyed by Louis XIV, and what he didn't get to, Napoleon finished.
There is a Festung (German word for fortress) above Koblenz on the opposite bank of the Rhine on the heights above the town. There was a cable car across the Rhine going up to the fortress. I don't know if it is still there. I think napoleon took care of that one.
Modern fortresses, there is one built by Germany west of Strasbourg concurrently with the rebuilding of Haut Koenigsbourg to defend the city from French attack. There are lots of concrete bunkers still existing in the Huertgen Forest outside of Cologne which stopped the Americans for several months in WW II.

Posted by
2483 posts

Burg Rheinfels above St. Goar on the Rhine is a large ruin that is fun to explore. And there along the Rhine and Mosel are plenty of other castles.