The 25 best castles in Bavaria
At a rough estimate there are about 300 castles in Bavaria. Quite an impressive figure, even considering the large size of the region. But we should remember that Bavaria’s numerous castles and palaces were built over a period of 1,000 years by different kings, noble families and archbishops. And if the medieval buildings served only one purpose – to protect possessions from encroachment, the later creations, built in the XVI-XIX centuries, were created as a country residences and summer palaces.
Especially admired by tourists are castles, built under Louis II, are real architectural masterpieces and a treasury of art. Fans of the Romanesque and early Renaissance styles will find the impregnable fortresses scattered among the picturesque Bavarian countryside irresistible.
Bavaria’s most beautiful palaces and castles
Rising against the mountain backdrop Neuschwanstein is the pinnacle of architecture, music in stone, a harmonious symphony of beauty and grandeur. The castle was built for Louis II in the XIX century, spending an astronomical sum for those times. The interior decoration of the palace rivals the exterior in luxury – the walls are painted with plots of German legends and tales, embodied in the great Wagner’s operas: Lohengrin, Parzival, Tannhäuser.
The first mention of Hohenschwangau goes back to the XII century. It was built by knights of the Schwangau family, which ceased to exist in the 16th century, and at the same time the castle began to decline. The building was restored three hundred years later under Emperor Maximilian II, who employed the best architects and artists for this purpose. After the Hohenschwangau was rebuilt, it became the summer residence of the royal family. Today it is a museum that is open to the public.
A powerful hilltop fortress located in Nuremberg. Construction of Kaiserburg began in the 11th century, later the castle became the repository of royal relics of the rulers of the Holy Roman Empire. The architecture of the building is the epitome of power, austerity and simplicity of the Romanesque style. It is obvious that in the Middle Ages people cared not about beauty, but about the ability of the fortress to withstand a siege. In the XV century the Imperial Gardens appeared around the complex, slightly softening its stern appearance.
One of the largest and best-preserved castle complexes in Germany, built in the middle of the century. The first mention of it dates back to 1056. Feste Coburg changed hands many times, and the representatives of the mighty ruling dynasties fought for it. From the 15th century until the Bavarian revolution in 1918, it belonged to the Dukes of Coburg. The complex of buildings was built in the Romanesque style. Today collections of paintings, engravings, weapons and sculptures can be seen inside.
The building is situated on the border with Tyrol in the municipality of Aschau-im Himgau. It was built at the end of the 12th century and was reconstructed several times, due to which a mixture of Renaissance and Baroque styles can be seen in the modern appearance. Since the middle of XX century Hohenassau is used as a tourist center, on the part of the territory there is a museum, the other part is turned into a hotel, where the guests enjoy living in historic interiors.
A 13th-century fortress built by the local bishop to intimidate the people and defend against possible uprisings. The structure has a rather austere appearance and from the outside it really looks impregnable surrounded by thick stone walls. Marienberg rises on a hill, where in Celtic times there was a pagan sanctuary. A Romanesque arch bridge, built in the 16th century, leads to it.
The castle is situated in the small town of the same name on the high bank of the river. As many other defensive constructions it was built in the Middle Ages with purely practical purposes. It has survived to this day in almost unchanged state, only minor details have been reconstructed. On the territory of the fortress there are chapels, old houses, converted into hotels, restaurants, brewery and viewing platform.
A fortification on the border with Austria, former residence of the Wittelsbach family, documentedly built in the early 11th century. The castle rises above the Salzach River, and was once the site of a Celtic and later Roman settlement. Burghausen suffered considerable damage during the Napoleonic wars, but by the end of the 19th century the complex had been restored. After another restoration in the 1960s, a museum was placed on the grounds.
On the background of a rather modest in size town, Johannesburg, built in the German Renaissance style, looks impressive. It was built by the Archbishop of Kronberg in the middle of the 16th century on the site of a burnt-out castle. The construction is symmetrical, with harmonious proportions and slender lines. The building is flanked by multilevel towers, and the roof is decorated with ornate decorative elements. The city is surrounded by a green park on the banks of the river Main.
Another residence of the noble Wittelsbach family adorns the Danube promenade in the city of Neuburg an der Don. The castle was built in the spirit of the Renaissance, with some parts of it gravitating toward the Italian classical style, while others retain typical features of the German interpretation of this style. In the middle of the XVII century Neuburg was reconstructed with Baroque features.
In the early 13th century Trausnitz was known as Landshut and was a fortified town, to the protection of which the inhabitants of the surrounding villages flocked. In 1475, Duke George the Rich and Jadwiga Jagiellonka were married here – a Landschutian wedding that eventually became a local festival, celebrated every four years. The interior decoration of the castle has not been preserved, because in 1961 there was a devastating fire.
The castle was built in the early XIII century, but a century later it was destroyed by the army of Louis of Bavaria during the suppression of another rebellion. Parsberg was rebuilt rather quickly, and 300 years later expanded. The second time it was destroyed by the Swedes during the Thirty Years War. The 17th century castle survived. Between 1928 and 1974, the complex was used for various events and later the Museum of Bavarian Folklore and Contemporary History was established there.
This was the place of exile of Prince Albrecht of Bavaria, who had the courage to marry a commoner and angered his father. The complex served as a hunting castle, and in the 15th century was connected to the main residence Nymphenburg by an alley. It is otherwise surrounded by the waters of the river Wurm, so it is practically on an island. Today it is the home of the library.
Built in the 12th century, Plassenburg was for several centuries the center of the principality of the same name, which was ruled by the Hohenzollerns. The castle was besieged only once in the middle of the 17th century, after seven long months its garrison surrendered. Since the early 19th century, the complex was used as a prison and a military hospital. Today there are four museums and temporary exhibitions.
The castle was built by a noble Bavarian family, one of the oldest and most respected in the region. Originally a wooden castle stood on the site of a massive construction with stone walls. When the castle was inherited by the Hohenzollerns in the 13th century, it was rebuilt from stone. Over the following centuries it was reconstructed, expanded and fortified, and its appearance changed in different architectural styles.
The hunting castle of the Wittelsbachs, built by Otto Heinrich for his wife in the mid-16th century. It is a relatively small structure in the German Renaissance and Baroque style with white walls and a characteristic tiled roof. According to another version, it is believed that the Grünau was already built in the XIII century and then rebuilt, changing its appearance beyond recognition.
Renaissance style building, which was first mentioned in sources in 1062. Of course, due to the fact that the Wiesentau was repeatedly destroyed and rebuilt, the original style has not been preserved. The architectural appearance of the castle finally took shape in XVI-XVII centuries. This is the way it looks to tourists today. Previously the castle was owned by the Wittelsbach family, and today museum collections are housed under the roof of the castle.
Compared with other Bavarian castles Elmau has not so long history – it was built at the beginning of the XX century. Almost from the very beginning it belonged to philosopher and professor I. Müller, who by some miracle managed to save his property from confiscation after Hitler came to power. Following the death of the owner in 1949, Elmau was occasionally used for state holidays and concerts. The castle became a five-star hotel in 2007.
The castle’s Renaissance walls and round towers stand at the edge of the lake, reflected symmetrically on the surface of the mirror-like water surface. Behind the structure is a magnificent park with numerous alleys and paths. These places are very picturesque, because of what a lot of tourists come here, not for nothing Mespelbrunn is considered one of the most beautiful castles in Bavaria.
It stands alone on a hilly slope overgrown with forest. In summer, its gray stone walls contrast with the lush greenery, giving it an even more secluded feel. It is believed that the castle was built in the XIII century, and a century later it came into the possession of the Archbishops of Salzburg. At the moment, the structure is privately owned. Since the early 2000s, at the walls of Staufeneck held a costume festival with a medieval fair.
The exact date of construction of the castle is uncertain. But there is evidence that in the 14th century it already existed and belonged to one of the noble families of Bavaria. After reconstruction in the middle of the 19th century it acquired a modern look, which includes features of traditional half-timbering (the upper part of the walls) and the conservative German Renaissance style (the shape of the roof and the corner towers).
The XII century fortress, which changed owners more than once during its long existence. It belonged to a monastery for 500 years until 1803, after which it became the property of the kingdom after secularization. Falkenberg was reconstructed in the late 1930s and was owned by the von der Schulenburg family until 2008, when the castle was purchased by the city and set up as a cultural center.
New castle in Ingolstadt
Gothic castle from the 15th century, called “New Castle” because of the proximity to Herzogskasten, an old fortress from the 13th century. The complex was built after the return of Ludwig VII Bearded from France. The duke liked the French architecture very much, so he wished to build something similar at home. The castle was last restored in the 1960s, and today some of the buildings are in need of repair.
The first fortified structure on the site of Altenburg was built in the X century. By the XII century the castle had changed from a stern fortress into a palace for royalty, where kings and the highest clergy gathered. In the 17th century, it became the center of the Duchy of Saxe-Altenburg. At the same time its appearance considerably changed, which over time acquired Renaissance features. However, some parts of the complex have retained their picturesque Gothic appearance.
The only dream realized by the romantic ruler Louis II, the monarch managed to wait until the construction was finished. The sumptuous baroque and ornate, even somewhat pompous rococo interiors were every bit as magnificent as the halls in Neuschweinstein. They were painted by the best artists one could find in Europe. The Linderhof gives the impression of a true fairy tale palace.
Responses: Wesenstein Castle (Wesenstein, Germany) – Journey to Saxony’s past, “a curiosity of fortification”.
There are quite a lot of castles in Saxony, famous and not so famous. Wesenstein is not one of the most hyped, nevertheless it is very interesting.
First of all I wanted to go there to see the largest collection of leather wallpaper. Secondly, this castle, built on a steep cliff, was not built as usual – from the bottom up, but vice versa. The earliest buildings were made in the 14th century, and the lower floors were completed in the 18th century. It was the time when castles ceased to play the role of defensive structures, and Wesenstein is no exception. It turns into a baroque palace with a huge park. And even became the residence of the Saxon King Johan.
Built and rebuilt the castle for 700 years. That is why you can clearly see the full mix of architectural styles: from romanticism to classicism. You can see it in the photos that we took in the castle.
The castle stood at the crossroads of trade routes and in the Middle Ages it served as both a shelter and a defense, and even at a time when there were no settlements nearby, the castle had a church, a court and its own brewery. The brewery is long gone, but there is a small restaurant next to the castle called “Royal Palace Kitchen”. The most convenient way to get to Wesestein is by car, which we did. Quite a large parking lot. Then you have to go uphill a little bit – don’t forget the castle is built on a rock. After buying tickets at the ticket office, we go inside. The door opens and closes automatically. In general, there is a lot of modern interactive in the castle.
On the first of the open floors we learn the history of the residence of King Johan George, the “enlightened monarch,” a man with a good education, who translated Dante’s Divine Comedy into German. On one of the walls we see a painting of King Johan with his large family.
We walk through a long gallery of rooms.
The decoration of the royal chambers is impressive: exquisite furniture, works of applied art, and especially the leather wallpaper with gold and silver embossing.
Surprised by the luxurious Lutheran chapel – it is very unusual. In addition to the Lutheran chapel, the castle has a Catholic chapel. That’s another trait to the portrait of the king: not every monarch could allow such an affinity.
The Lutheran Chapel is very beautiful: the arches are blue in color, with a golden pattern across the surface, reminiscent of the sky with stars. The arched vaults on one of the floors of the castle in Meissen are made in a similar style. The story about which I have already published. Tour of Meissen (Germany, Saxony) The King’s office with the telescope is interesting. By the way, there used to be a small observatory in the tower.
The old stoves, which heated the living quarters, have been preserved to this day. The glass showcases quite a lot of artifacts: treaties, decrees, and letters.
The royal bedroom with a magnificent antique bed with a canopy, tapestries and . In order to be seen, the toilet is displayed in the corridor.
The ceremonial rooms, the Hall of Celebrations, the Austrian Room, and the Tea Room, are better preserved than anything else. Walnut and oak furniture, walls painted with scenes from German fairy tales and ancient history, chandeliers on the ceiling. The ceiling in two rooms is decorated with beautiful moldings.
The living rooms look cozy. Even the maid’s room has quality furniture.
A whole bouquet of different eras, styles, trends: classicism, baroque, renaissance.
In one of the rooms I was horrified. I came in – there was a man standing by the window, as if alive. A figure of a footman opening a window. It is made no worse than Madame Tussauds. That’s how this castle is – with secret rooms, fake footmen, and trompe l’oeil windows.
One must dismiss the great informational richness of the expositions and the accessibility of the exhibits. In one of the rooms you can even sit on pouffes opposite the screen and watch a short film about a period of medieval history of the castle and its rebuilding. You can touch, of course, everything. You can also take pictures. But, remember, the museum staff is vigilant! We were almost alone in the castle, there is nobody in the halls, and suddenly, as from a famous toy, suddenly appears a museum ranger “This, please do not touch”, “This, please do not take pictures – it is a private collection!
The second part of the exhibit is the third and fourth floors and the attic. Immediately you see a stark contrast, because we were replenished in the “dreary Middle Ages” – the 14th and 15th centuries.
Just the names of the Saxon rulers of that time – Albrecht II Unfit, Frederick the Bitten. By the way his mother bit him when she ran away from her son. The upper floors once housed the cowshed, stables, and church. The walls on these floors are thick, stone, and even a cross made of stone.
It’s cold, dank, even creepy. And if you also imagine that once there was a medieval court and a torture chamber (although people argue that it exists) – it gets uncomfortable.
Look at the original antique chandelier.
You want to get out into the garden. Or rather a big baroque park.
The park has a large rose garden, many sculptures, bridges, fountain, benches to sit on.
We saw just a pastoral landscape with a babbling river that divides the park into two parts, a small waterfall.
And in 2002, this small but fast river flooded so that it destroyed half of the park. Not all rooms of the castle are open for viewing, but those that we went to give an idea of life in the castle at different periods of history. It took us about two hours to look around.
We began in the 18th century – ended in the 14th century, that is how it was built gradually floor by floor: from top to bottom. That is why this castle is called the “curiosity of fortification”. Wesenstein is one of the most beautiful castles in Saxony.
If you have a chance, in good weather – visit, you will not regret.
If you are in good weather, visit Wesenstein and you will be very glad to see the famous Saxon bullseye or bat window.