Castles and fortifications in Germany

Hirschberg Castle

The first reference to Hirschberg castle dates from 1180. Since 1305 it was owned by the bishops of Eichstätt. They expanded and strengthened the castle around two Romanesque towers flanking the gatehouse. In 1760-1764 the castle was converted ino the bishop's hunting lodge. The imperial hall and knight's hall are decorated with paintings and have Rococo stucco work.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Hirschberg, Germany

Neudahn Castle Ruins

The rock castle of Neudahn is situated on one of the sandstone rock outcrops that are typical of the Dahner Felsenland region. The name Neudahn ('New Dahn') is rather confusing, because the castle is older than Grafendahn Castle in the nearby group of three castles of Dahn, albeit more recent than Altdahn ('Old Dahn'). Its location enabled it to protect and block the old road running through the Wieslauter valley, the cou ...
Founded: 1230-1240 | Location: Dahn, Germany

Sulzbach Castle

The earliest traces of human settlement on the Sulzbach castle hill have been dated to the Late Hallstatt or Early La Tène culture. The medieval settlement was built first in the 8th century or early 9th century. The partially stone-made castle was built there in the 9th or 10th century. In 1003 the castle was moved to the Nordgaugrafen family by Henry II. The medieval castle was rebuilt from 1618 to the Renaissance styl ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Sulzbach-Rosenberg, Germany

Frankenstein Castle

Frankenstein Castle is a medieval fortification on a spur above the village of Frankenstein. The name first appeared in a document of 1146 mentioning the free nobleman Helenger of Frankenstein. But the beginning of the castle is assumed to be at an earlier date because the erection of a defensive tower around 1100 is reported in various documents. The tower belonged to nearby Limburg Abbey in charge of security on the ro ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Frankenstein, Germany

Vorderburg Castle

Vorderburg is one of the four local castles built early 13th century by Ulrich I of Steinach. It consists essentially of a residential building, a dungeon and a farm building. Parts of ancient ramparts are also obtained. Today the castle is privately owned by the barons of Warsberg-Dorth.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Neckarsteinach, Germany

Wildenstein Castle

Wildenstein castle was built in the 13th century above the Danube. Today it functions as a hostel of the German Youth Hostel Association.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Leibertingen, Germany

Neuwerk Tower

The Great Tower Neuwerk is the most significant building of the Neuwerk island, belonging to Hamburg. This former beacon, watchtower and lighthouse is also the oldest building in Hamburg and oldest secular building on the German coast. The construction was started in 1300. It was completed after ten years in 1310. The style matches the common norman tower type of the time. Contrary to some literature, the tower was built ...
Founded: 1300-1310 | Location: Insel Neuwerk, Germany

Gimborn Castle

Gimborn Castle is a former water castle located in the upper Leppe valley. It was pledged in 1273 from the county of Berg to the county of Mark, and became the Residenz in the county of Gimborn Neustadt of the House of Schwarzenberg in 1631. Since 1874 the castle has belonged to the Barons von Fürstenberg zu Gimborn. Since 1969 the Castle has served as a conference site and meeting place for the International ...
Founded: 1273 | Location: Marienheide, Germany

Wiesentfels Castle

Wiesentfels castle belonged from 1333 to 1938 to the Counts of Giech, who received it from the Prince-Bishopric of Bamberg. After the Hussite Wars the castle was rebuilt (from 1476 to 1481). In 1525, it was burnt down by rebellious peasants and rebuilt in the old style by Count Achaz von Giech.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Hollfeld, Germany

Klusenstein Castle

Klusenstein castle was built in 1353 by Gerhard of Plettenberg, a vassal of earl Engelbrecht III of the Mark. The castle formed the boundary fortification of the earldom Mark to the bishopric state of Cologne and the earldom Arnsberg. All three territories met at the Hönne river valley, the castle was also overlooking an old road crossing the valley. During the feud between earl Engelbert and Gottfried IV of Arnsberg, ...
Founded: 1353 | Location: Hemer, Germany

Bederkesa Castle

Bederkesa is a medieval castle built originally in the 12th century. Its original owners, the counts of Bederkesa, lost their fief in 1381. For more than two centuries, the City of Bremen became owner of this castle and its surrounding subjects. As a symbol of sovereignty, they have constructed a Roland statue which is still standing in front of castle. Until 1859, this castle served as administrative centre of its surrou ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bederkesa, Germany

Bilstein Castle

Bilstein castle is located on a spur which falls away steeply on three sides so that the castle's defences only needed to be oriented towards the hill to the northeast. The appearance of the castle is thus dominated by its two round towers, each with a diameter of about eight metres: the Chapel Tower in the northwest and the Hohnekamp Tower in the southeast. The towers are connected by a tunnel under the castle courtyard ...
Founded: 1202-1225 | Location: Lennestadt, Germany

Rauenstein Castle

Rauenstein Castle guarded the crossing over the River Flöha along the road from Freiberg to Annaberg. The castle is first mentioned in 1323, although from archaeological investigations it is postulated that it had been built by around 1200. The first lords of Rauenstein were the Schellenbergers. After several changes of ruler, the castle went into the possession of the Electorate of Saxony in 1567. The Amt of Ra ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Pockau-Lengefeld, Germany

Liebieg Castle

Liebieg Castle was built by knight Marsilius Gondorf around 1255-1272. Between 1493-1762 it was owned by Eifel family. The current appearance dates mainly from the restoration made in 1859-1960.
Founded: 1859-1960 | Location: Kobern-Gondorf, Germany

Liebenzell Castle

Liebenzell Castle is a hill castle above the town of Bad Liebenzell. The fortification was once the most important castle in the Württemberg part of the Black Forest. The castle was built in the 12th century by the counts of Calw. In 1196 the counts of Eberstein were recorded as the castle's owners. From 1220 to 1230 the castle was extended. It was destroyed in the 16th century and in 1692 and rebuilt in 1954. Today the ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bad Liebenzell, Germany

Kipfenberg Castle

Kipfenberg Castle was built in the 12th century and was owned by the counts of Grögling-Hirschberg. In 1803 it was moved to the possession of state. Bodo Ebhardt restored and rebuilt the castle in the early 1900s. Today Kipfenberg is privately owned, but there is a Romans and Bavarians Museum in the outer bailey.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kipfenberg, Germany

Schillingsfürst Castle

The Baroque castle of Schillingsfürst was first mentioned in the year 1000. It was owned by Hohenlohe family since 1300s. However, the castle was destroyed by Ludwig of Bayern in 1316. The next castle was destroyed in 1525 and third one again in 1632 in Thirty Years" War. The current castle was built by Prince Karl Albrecht Schillingsfürst in 1753-1793. Today there is a museum.
Founded: 1753-1793 | Location: Schillingsfürst, Germany

Odenhausen Castle

Odenhausen Castle was first built in the 11th century on the hill. In the Middle Ages, the fortification was expanded into a moated water castle. The castle was first mentioned in 1316. In 1560 Ludwig von Blankart converted it into a Renaissance residence. A bridge leads across the outer moat through a Baroque gate into the farmhouse and an another bridge leads over the moat to the two-winged mansion. The porta ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Wachtberg, Germany

Battenberg Castle Ruins

It is presumed that the Battenberg castle was constructed by Count Frederick III of Leiningen (d. 1287), and it remained a possession of the House of Leiningen - until 1689, when it was destroyed during the War of the Palatine Succession by French troops. Together with Neuleiningen Castle, on the opposite hillside 1,400 metres to the north, it controlled access to the Eckbach valley. On three sides the outer walls of the ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Battenberg, Germany

Ortenburg Castle

The first hill fort overlooking the valley of Wolfach was built by Count Rapoto I von Ortenburg around 1120. Due to the power of Ortenburg house there were many conflicts with neihgbor states in the late 12th century and early 13th century. The castle was destroyed in one of these wars in 1192 and subsequently rebuilt. The medieval castle was sacked and almost completely destroyed in Landshut War of Succession in 1504. T ...
Founded: 1562 | Location: Ortenburg, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Schloßberg

The Schloßberg is the site of ancient fortress in the centre of the city of Graz, Austria. The hill is now a public park and enjoys extensive views of the city. The fortification of the Schloßberg goes back to at least the 10th century. In the mid-16th century, a 400 m long fortress was constructed by architects from the north of Italy. There are records of a cable-hauled lift being in use between 1528 and 1595 to move construction materials for the fortifications. The castle was never conquered, but it was largely demolished by Napoleonic forces under the Treaty of Schönbrunn of 1809. The clock tower (the Uhrturm) and bell tower (the Glockenturm) were spared after the people of Graz paid a ransom for their preservation.

The remains of the castle were turned into a public park by Ludwig von Welden in 1839. The park contains the Uhrturm, the Glockenturm, a cistern and two bastions from the old castle. The Uhrturm is a recognisable icon for the city, and is unusual in that the clock"s hands have opposite roles to the common notion, with the larger one marking hours while the smaller is for minutes. The Glockenturm contains Liesl, the heaviest bell in Graz.

Near the Uhrturm there is a café with views over the old town. Additionally, on the western side of the Schloßberg, there are two small cafés, one with table service and the other one with self-service. Next to the terminus of the funicular railway there is a hilltop restaurant with views of western Graz. In what was once the cellar of one of the ruined bastions is the Kasemattenbühne, an open-air stage for concerts and performances.

Below the Schloßberg hill is an extensive system of tunnels, which were created during the second world war to protect the civilian population of Graz from aerial bombing. Some of these tunnels are still accessible, including a passage from Schloßbergplatz to Karmeliterplatz, and a grotto railway for children. Also in the tunnel complex is the Dom im Berg, which was expanded in 2000 to provide a venue space for up to 600 people.