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The Local's guide to German castles

Published: 06 Oct 2011 11:59 GMT+02:00

From the ruins of Heidelberg, which American author Mark Twain loved to frequent, to the Disneyesque splendour of Neuschwanstein, swathed in the mystery of “Mad Ludwig’s” sudden death, castles across Germany don’t fit a particular cookie cutter shape.

The buildings’ purposes over the ages have been as diverse as their construction, and include a porcelain factory, a private office, a children’s summer camp, a hostel, government residences, Nazi headquarters and even wedding receptions.

Click here for a virtual tour of The Local's top thirteen castles

Some rivers flowing through Germany, such as the Rhine and Mosel, feature stretches where castles pop up along every second hill. In Rhineland-Palatinate, three medieval fortresses along the Rhine’s left bank have never been destroyed. One of the three, the Castle of Eltz, has been owned by the same family for over 800 years.

Germany originated as a patchwork of states, kingdoms and territories, which periodically fought each other, teamed up against common enemies, united and then faced off against each other again.

This political and military uncertainty created perfect conditions over the centuries for the construction of a huge range of castles, palaces and in-between buildings such as fortified monasteries. Although, even after the trend towards building the elaborate structures had subsided, rulers such as Landgrave Wilhelm IX in Hesse commissioned new buildings designed to resemble ancient ruins.

Legends and myths have, of course, grown along with the battlements, and while Schwerin’s parliamentary seat may not really have a small ghost roaming its halls, the island palace may still be worth a visit.

Erin Huggins

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

15:13 October 6, 2011 by gtappend
So which are the best 12 of the 13 shown?
00:18 October 7, 2011 by zeddriver
While that's a really subjective question. I recommend seeing as many castles as you can while living here. I even enjoy seeing the ruins that are nothing more than a few walls in the forest. I find it fun and it stimulates the imagination trying to envision what it was like living there. And wondering what events caused them to be abandoned. I have lived here for 1 year and have been to 13. As there are 25,000 castles and ruins in Germany. I only have 24,987 to see in the next 4 years.
05:31 October 7, 2011 by Shirazz
Nice.

I've been to 80 percent of the castles shown here. Was fun to guess them as the pix downloaded before seeing the names.

Ruins are also very interesting. One of my favorites is Burg Frankenstein in Darmstadt. Been there many times. They also hold spooky Halloween fest there every year. I even made a TV show of it.
18:26 October 7, 2011 by Jack Kerouac
Has anyone seen the roman ruins in Mainz and Trier? Awesome stuff for those who love history!
17:52 October 10, 2011 by bsullivan
I have been to both Mainz and Trier and see the roman ruins. I have been able to see "The Burning of Heidelberg Castle" and the salt mines of Salzburg. I have been to see many of Germany's many beautiful things. I miss my home and wish I could go back for a visit.
18:49 October 16, 2011 by yummy.german
The article promises castles, but unfortunately later on confuses castles and palaces. Would have been better if the author had concentraded on castles and presented palaces in a separate article.

Photo 13 claims that Wewelsburg is located in Rhineland-Palatinate.

In fact it is located in North Rhine-Westphalia.
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