The Best Palaces and Castles in Germany

Posted May 18, 2023 in Top Contenders - Last updated April 27, 2024

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Thanks to Germany’s many small principalities and feudal states during the Medieval Era, the country now has spectacular palaces, manors, and forts. The country has over 25,000 palaces and castles, all in various states of preservation. Some palaces have been completely restored and are now used as museums, shopping centers, hotels, and even restaurants. But many castles are in ruins, and some with the most gorgeous views are challenging to reach. Let us look into some of the best palaces and castles in Germany.

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Neuschwanstein Castle

Very few palaces are as striking and breathtaking as the Neuschwanstein Castle. Commissioned by King Ludwig II in 1868 and like most of Ludwig’s plans, never fully completed, this Bavarian beauty inspired Disney’s castle in Sleeping Beauty. Originally a summer retreat for Ludwig, it is located in Hohenschwangau, Neuschwanstein. The castle is also a tribute to Richard Wagner, the German composer. The opulent halls in the castle are filled with paintings, mosaics, murals, carved oak, and arcades. The castle’s interior is also decorated with scenes from Wagner’s operas.

Heidelberg Palace

Partially in ruins and owned by Baden-Württemberg, the Heidelberg castle, made of red sandstone, is a beautiful example of the German Renaissance. It occupies a prominent location on the hillside above Heidelberg’s Old Town and forms a backdrop that can be seen virtually anywhere in town. The sandstone’s warm color contrasts beautifully with the surrounding forest’s lush greenery. A gorgeous garden, a restaurant, and the German Apothecary Museum are on its grounds. The Friedrichsbau room has an outstanding collection of emperors and kings.

Charlottenburg Palace

view of 
Charlottenburg Palace across a lake
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Friedrich I’s wife, Sophie Charlotte, commissioned Charlottenburg Palace, formerly an imperial summer palace. Its vast grounds are today a popular tourist destination in Berlin. The palace’s interior decor and architecture combine Rococo and Baroque styles. The exhibition galleries and museum here will give you fascinating details about Germany’s royal and imperial houses. A formal garden behind this palace houses a pavilion, a theater, a mausoleum, and a belvedere.

Schloss Drachenburg

A magnificent Baroque villa built on the forested Drachenfels hill near Königswinter and overlooking the Rhine River, Schloss Drachenburg, was constructed by the newly ennobled Baron von Sarter. The North Rhine-Westphalia Foundation currently owns it. This villa is worth a visit because of its exquisite interiors, mock battlements, dreamy spires, square clock towers, an abundance of nearby walking trails, and charming fairy-tale construction.

Lichtenstein Castle

Constructed in the 1840s, the Lichtenstein Castle is a magnificent Gothic Revival structure. It is prominent on a tall rocky outcrop overlooking the Echaz River. The castle, now privately owned, is open for a 30-minute guided tour available in German. The castle is more miniature than it appears in the pictures and is accessible by a short, narrow wooden bridge. The elevation highlights the lofty circular tower and steep walls. Attractions in the Lichtenstein Castle include the vibrant wall paintings, the chapel’s glass paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries, and the Knights’ Hall, all furnished opulently in the Romantic style.

Hohenschwangau Castle

the 
Hohenschwangau Castle on a beautiful sunny day
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Hohenschwangau has been a royal residence for a long time. However, it eventually fell into despair before King Maximilian II of Bavaria purchased it. The palace served as the childhood home of Ludwig II, who later built the Neuschwanstein Castle. Maximilian II renovated Hohenschwangau in a beautiful Gothic style and coveted it as a hunting and summer retreat for the royal family. As a result, the castle’s walls portray paintings of the legends of German history. And many think that this influenced King Ludwig’s fascination with legends and fairy tales.

Zwinger Palace

A palace complex in Dresden built by Matthäus Pöppelmann, the Zwinger Palace is a majestic building formerly maintained as an orangery and exhibition gallery. Now, it serves as a complex of three museums: the Royal Cabinet of Mathematical and Physical Instruments, the Old Masters Picture Gallery, and the Dresden Porcelain Collection. Constructed in a beautiful Baroque style, the palace has a sizable garden with magnificent fountains. 

Hohenzollern Castle

Burg Hohenzollern is the hereditary seat of the House of Hohenzollern. Built around the mid-1800s on the remains of two earlier castles, the castle is located at the summit of Mount Hohenzollern. The Hohenzollern family still owns and resides in the castle, accessible to visitors year-round. At the entryway, it has military architecture, and the wealthy portion has Gothic Revival architecture. The surrounding neighborhoods’ magnificent interior ornamentation and vistas make this castle a heavenly sight. Christmastime sees the castle decked out in beautiful traditional decorations. At night, there is a vibrant light display projecting on its walls.

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