Once upon a time, in a land far, far away (well, not that far if you’re in Europe), there existed a magical realm with over 25,000 castles! No, this isn’t the script of a fantasy film; it’s the enchanting reality of Germany. While many are familiar with renowned castles like Neuschwanstein and Hohenzollern, Germany is home to a treasure trove of lesser-known castles that are equally, if not more, mesmerizing.
Visiting the beautiful castles of Germany offers a chance to explore the country’s rich history and medieval architecture, while at the same time enjoying a quieter and more intimate experience compared to its more famous castles. So, let’s explore a few of our favourite secret German castles worth checking out.
And remember, should your travel plans fail to play out like a fairytale, and you encounter trouble, travel insurance can come to your rescue like a knight in shining armour.
Bentheim Castle, one of the most well-preserved hilltop castles in Germany, is a medieval fortress nestled in Lower Saxony. Often referred to as the “Jewel of Westphalia,” the castle has served various roles over the centuries, from a royal residence to a defensive fortress.
But what truly sets it apart is its distinctive white limestone construction, making it look like a pearl among the European gems. With an impressive gatehouse, powder tower, drawbridge, moat, and extensive defensive walls, this castle is your ticket to a journey back in time.
Inside, you’ll find a modern museum showcasing medieval weaponry, armour, and artwork. Once you’ve had your fill of history, stroll through the surrounding forests via the walking paths, and let your imagination run wild.
Tucked away in the hills above the Elzbach River, Eltz Castle is a 12th-century masterpiece that still belongs to the same family that built it!
Unlike many European castles that bear the scars of wars, Eltz Castle stands as a pristine time capsule of history. Eltz Castle served as the residence and headquarters for the Eltz family, which was divided into three branches, and each branch had a separate wing within the castle to allow them each a bit of independence.
The castle’s architecture offers a harmonious blend of Romanesque and Gothic styles, featuring multiple towers, courtyards, and connecting bridges. Its most notable features include its Romanesque keep, the upper courtyard with its Renaissance-style buildings, and the elegant half-timbered structures.
Visitors are welcomed to take a guided tours to explore the castle’s interior, available in various languages.
Perched atop Drachenfels Hill in the Siebengebirge Mountains, Drachenburg Castle is a fairy-tale-like, 19th-century gem, built as a private residence. This castle replaced the ruins of an earlier 12th-century fortress, named Drachenfels Castle, that once existed on the site.
Drachenburg Castle is a breathtaking blend of neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque architectural styles – it’s a reflection of the Romantic Movement’s fascination with medieval designs. It’s spires, turrets, and various ornate decorations are sure to leave you dazzled.
The castle’s interior is a testament to the Victorian era’s interest with art and craftsmanship. Touring the castle, you’ll find a lavish dining room, a music room, a smoking lounge, and the magnificent Hall of Knights. Don’t forget to explore the castle gardens with sculptures, fountains, and picturesque walking paths, offering breathtaking views of the Rhine Valley.
Accessible via a scenic tram ride or a hike from Königswinter, Drachenburg Castle is a popular day trip destination for tourists visiting the Rhine region.
Tucked away in the Spessart Forest of Bavaria, Mespelbrunn Castle is a moated wonder which exudes an air of enchantment. It began its life as a simple fortification back in the 15th century but got a big makeover roughly a century later. Because of its moat, it’s known as a water castle and is situated next to a spring-fed pond.
Mespelbrunn Castle, with its unique blend of late-medieval and Renaissance architectural styles, features charming half-timbered elements and quaint gables. Its fortified gatehouse and central courtyard add to its charm, making it seem as though it has leapt straight out of a Disney movie.
The interior of Mespelbrunn Castle is as mesmerising as its exterior. It boasts a well-preserved interior that houses many original features and furnishings, offering visitors a peek into the lives and history of the noble families who resided here over the centuries.
Complementing the castle’s beauty is its surrounding landscaped park, adorned with walking trails and ponds.
Just like Cinderella’s transformation from rags to riches, Stolzenfels Castle evolved from a medieval fortress to a stunning palace in the 19th century, all thanks to a Prussian crown prince.
Stolzenfels Castle serves as a quintessential example of Rhine romantic architecture. Its fairytale-like redesign features a symmetrical layout that is nothing short of enchanting. Nestled in a picturesque setting along the Rhine River, the castle invites visitors to explore a variety of rooms, including the Knights’, King’s, and Queen’s Halls.
Each room showcases the 19th century opulence of the Prussian monarchy, with numerous stained-glass windows and ceiling frescoes adorning several of the rooms. Outside, you’ll discover beautifully landscaped gardens and terraces that overlook the Rhine Valley and the nearby town of Koblenz.
With its stunning hilltop location, Ortenberg Castle joins the list of German castle hotels which allows you the chance to actually stay a night on the castle grounds. To be more precise, it offers a youth hostel with a nice barbecue area set in a rose garden.
Tracing its roots back to the 11th century, Ortenberg Castle is a remarkable blend of Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance architectural styles. This fusion reflects the castle’s diverse ownership by various noble families over the centuries.
The Bergfried, a standout feature of the castle, offers panoramic views of the Ortenau region and the nearby Black Forest. But the castle is more than just a sightseeing spot. It serves as a vibrant cultural hub, hosting a variety of events, concerts, medieval festivals, and exhibitions throughout the year.