Castles and fortifications in Germany

Marksburg Castle

Marksburg as the only undamaged hilltop castle in the Middle Rhine Valley. In the early 12th century records mention the Noble Freemen of Brubach (who probably built the lower part of the keep around 1117), even though the castle itself is first referred to in 1231. The Lords of Eppstein built the Romanesque castle complex with its triangular layout, characteristic of the Staufer era. The Eppsteins were amongst the most p ...
Founded: c. 1117 | Location: Braubach, Germany

Königstein Fortress

Königstein Fortress is located on the left bank of the River Elbe. It is one of the largest hilltop fortifications in Europe. The 9.5 hectare rock plateau rises 240 metres above the Elbe and has over 50 buildings, some over 400 years old, that bear witness to the military and civilian life in the fortress. The rampart run of the fortress is 1,800 metres long with walls up to 42 metres high and steep sandstone fa ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Königstein, Germany

Füssen Castle

Füssen"s landmark, the Hohes Schloss (high castle), sits on a high rock and overlooks the village. Hohes Schloss is one of Bavaria"s largest and best-preserved Gothic castle complexes, and is the former summer residence and fortress of the prince bishops of Augsburg. The first castle on the hill dates back to the age of Roman Empire. The current castle was built in the 13-15th century. It was already integ ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Füssen, Germany

Eltz Castle

Eltz Castle (Burg Eltz) is surrounded on three sides by the Elzbach River, a tributary on the north side of the Moselle. It is situated on a 70m rock spur, on an important Roman trade route between rich farmlands and their markets. It is still owned by a branch of the same family that lived there in the 12th century, 33 generations ago. The Rübenach and Rodendorf families' homes in the castle are open to the public, whil ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Wierschem, Germany

Cochem Castle

The original Cochem Castle, perched prominently on a hill above the Moselle River, served to collect tolls from passing ships. Modern research dates its origins to around 1100. Before its destruction by the French in 1689, the castle had a long and fascinating history. It changed hands numerous times and, like most castles, also changed its form over the centuries. In 1151 King Konrad III ended a dispute over who should ...
Founded: 1100 | Location: Cochem, Germany

Albrechtsburg Castle

The Albrechtsburg is a Late Gothic castle that dominates the town centre of Meissen. It stands on a hill above the river Elbe, adjacent to the Meissen Cathedral. By 929 King Henry I of Germany had finally subdued the Slavic Glomacze tribe and built a fortress within their settlement area, situated on a rock high above the Elbe river. This castle, called Misnia after a nearby creek, became the nucleus of t ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Meißen, Germany

Veste Coburg

The Veste Coburg is one of Germany"s largest castles. The hill on which the fortress stands was inhabited from the Neolithic to the early Middle Ages according to the results of excavations. The first documentary mention of Coburg occurs in 1056, in a gift by Richeza of Lotharingia. Richeza gave her properties to Anno II, Archbishop of Cologne, to allow the creation of Saalfeld Abbey in 1071. In 1075, a chapel dedica ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Coburg, Germany

Burg Castle

Burg Castle (Schloss Burg) is the largest reconstructed castle in North Rhine-Westphalia and a popular tourist attraction. Its early history is closely connected to the rise of the Duchy of Berg. In the beginning of the 12th century (after 1133), Count Adolf III of Berg built Schloss Burg on a mountain overlooking the river Wupper. Not until the 15th century, after significant reconstruction as a hunting castle, did ...
Founded: c. 1133 | Location: Burg an der Wupper, Germany

Saarbrücken Castle

The existence of Saarbrücken was first documented in 999 under the name 'Castellum Sarabrucca'. In the 17th century the castle was rebuilt in the style of the Renaissance, but later destroyed and now only the cellars of this construction remain. In the 18th century Prince Wilhelm Heinrich had his architect Stengel build a new Baroque residence on the same site. Since then the castle has suffered various bou ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Saarbrücken, Germany

Sparrenberg Castle

The Sparrenburg castle in Bielefeld was erected sometime before 1250 by the counts of Ravensberg. It guarded the Bielefeld Pass over the Teutoburg Forest, as well as acting as the ruling seat of the counts of Ravensberg, and as protection for the city of Bielefeld, probably founded around 1200. Because the construction of a protective castle generally predates the foundation of a town, it is assumed that there was an old ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bielefeld, Germany

Hahnen Gate

Shortly after the Romans founded Cologne in 50 AD, they built a wall around the city. The wall was first expanded in the tenth century, and again in 1106, but due to the continuing growth of the city a new, 7 meters high wall was built in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The most important of the twelve gates that gave entrance to Cologne was the west gate, known as the Hahnentor. After their coronation in Aachen, G ...
Founded: 1235-1240 | Location: Cologne, Germany

Pillnitz Castle

Pillnitz Castle is located on the bank of the River Elbe in the former village of Pillnitz. It was the summer residence of many electors and kings of Saxony. The castle complex consists of three main buildings, the Riverside Palace (Wasserpalais) on the riverfront; the Upper Palace (Bergpalais) on the hillside, both Baroque with Chinoiserieelements; and the later Neoclassical New Palace (Neues Palais), which links ...
Founded: 1720 | Location: Pillnitz, Germany

Hohentübingen Castle

Hohentübingen Castle rises above the city atop of the 372m high Spitzberg hill. The castle is a mighty renaissance construction with four wings and a round tower. First mention of a castle on this site dates back to 1078, referring to the former medieval castle. The rulers of Tübingen, who were promoted to Counts Palatine in the 12th century, lived in the castle until 1342 when they sold it to the Counts of W&uu ...
Founded: c. 1037 | Location: Tübingen, Germany

Drachenfels Castle Ruins

The ruined castle Burg Drachenfels, on the summit of the Dhill, was built between 1138 and 1167 by Archbishop Arnold I of Cologne and bears the same name. It was originally intended for the protection of the Cologne region from any assault from the south. Originally it consisted of a bergfried with court, chapel and living quarters for servants. The castle was slighted in 1634, during the Thirty Years' War, b ...
Founded: 1138-1167 | Location: Königswinter, Germany

Moritzburg Castle

Moritzburg is a Baroque palace about 13 kilometres northwest of the Saxon capital, Dresden. The castle has four round towers and lies on a symmetrical artificial island. It is named after Duke Moritz of Saxony, who had a hunting lodge built there between 1542 and 1546. The surrounding woodlands and lakes have been a favourite hunting area of the electors and kings of Saxony. The Castle Chapel was built in 1661 under ...
Founded: 1542 | Location: Moritzburg, Germany

Monschau Castle

Monschau Castle is first recorded in 1217 as castrum in Munjoje by Archbishop Engelbert I of Cologne. It was expanded in the middle of the 14th century into a fortress for the counts of Jülich and equipped with mighty ring walls and wall walks. In 1543 troops of Emperor Charles V besieged the site with heavy guns, captured it and plundered it together with the town of Monschau. In the early 19th century the Fr ...
Founded: c. 1217 | Location: Monschau, Germany

Linz Castle

Linz Castle is an old customs castle and fortress. It dates back to 1365 and was built by the Archbishop of Cologne, Engelbert von der Mark. After an eventful history, the castle has been under private ownership since 1985. The castle in the heart of the town of Linz on the Rhine is once again a major tourist attraction after undergoing extensive refurbishment. Today visitors will find catering from the Middle Ages in th ...
Founded: 1365 | Location: Linz am Rhein, Germany

Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle is a Gothic Revival castle built in the 1840s. Historically, there has been a castle on the site located at the Albtrauf, above the source of the river Echaz since around 1200. It was twice destroyed, once in the Reichskrieg"s War of 1311 and again by the city-state of Reutlingen in 1377. The castle was not reconstructed and subsequently fell to ruin. It is today known as Burg Alt-Lichtenstein. A new ...
Founded: 1200/1840 | Location: Honau, Germany

Sigmaringen Castle

Sigmaringen Castle was first mentioned in the year 1077 in the chronicles of Petershausen monastery. The oldest parts of the castle are concealed beneath the alterations made during the 17th and the 19th centuries. The secret of the earliest settlement built on this defendable rock will never be fully revealed: large-scale excavation work would be necessary, which the extensive land development renders impossible. Judging ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Sigmaringen, Germany

Gottorf Castle

Gottorf Castle is the ancestral home of the Holstein-Gottorp branch of the House of Oldenburg. It was first settled as an estate in 1161 as the residence of Bishop Occo of Schleswig when his former residence was destroyed. The Danish Duke of Schleswig acquired it through a purchase in 1268, and in 1340 it was transferred to the Count of Holstein at Rendsburg of the House of Schauenburg. The manor later, through maternal i ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Schleswig, 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.