Castles and fortifications in Germany

Schloss Weimar

Schloss Weimar was the residence of the dukes of Saxe-Weimar and Eisenach, and has also been called Residenzschloss. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site 'Classical Weimar'. In history, the palace was often destroyed by fire. The Baroque palace from the 17th century, with the church Schlosskirche where several works by Johann Sebastian Bach were premiered, was replaced by a Neoclassical structure after a fire in ...
Founded: 1619 | Location: Weimar, Germany

Wimpfen Imperial Palace

The largest fortified Stauffer palace north of the Alps was built at the end of the 12th century by the Staufer emperors, which included Frederick I (Barbarossa) in Bad Wimpfen. Even from a far one is impressed by the striking silhouette with the two keeps, named the Red and the Blue Tower, the palace chapel, the arcades of the Stauffer palace and the stone house. Stauffer ladies in historical costumes give guided tours o ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bad Wimpfen, Germany

Berchtesgaden Castle

Berchtesgaden Castle dates from 1102 from the Augustin Collegiate. According to legend, Countess Irmgard von Sulzbach vowed to found the monastery as gratitude for saving her spouse after a serious hunting accident. Throughout the ages, provosts and canons expanded the complex of buildings. Seen from today, it is a lucky circumstance that never enough money was available for tearing the place down. On the contrary, exten ...
Founded: 1102 | Location: Berchtesgaden, Germany

Vischering Castle

Vischering Castle is a typical moated castle in the Münster region. It consists of outer defensive courtyard, defensive gateways, moat, drawbridge, main building and chapel. The sandstone walls, the red tile roofs as well as their reflection in the moat provide many harmonious views from the wooded surroundings. Vischering Castle was built by Bischop Gerhard von der Mark. It became the seat of the Vischering Family ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Lüdinghausen, Germany

Linn Castle

The oldest fortress on the Lower Rhine is located in the historic Krefeld suburb of Linn. The former country castle belonging to the Electorate of Cologne has its origins around 1200. It was badly damaged during the Spanish Civil War of 1704. The beautiful water castle is well preserved and includes a bailey, hunting lodge and tithe barn. In the accompanying Landscape Museum it is possible to view excavation finds from t ...
Founded: c. 1200 | Location: Krefeld, Germany

Eutin Castle

Eutin Castle was originally a four-winged palace originating from a medieval castle and was expanded over several centuries into a residence. The castle originally belonged to the Lübeck prince-bishops, later it became the summer residence of the Dukes of Oldenburg. The castle was regularly occupied until the 20th century and most of the interior has survived to the present-day. Today the castle houses a museum and i ...
Founded: 16th century | Location: Eutin, Germany

Veste Oberhaus

Veste Oberhaus castle dominates the old city of Passau, which it faces across the Danube. Below Oberhaus on the promontory between the two rivers is Veste Niederhaus, part of the fortress system. The fortress was built in 1219 by Ulrich II, the first prince-bishop of Passau, at the location of a previously existing chapel dedicated to St. George. The intention was to express the military strength of the bishopric and sup ...
Founded: 1219 | Location: Passau, Germany

Petersberg Citadel

The Petersberg Citadel is one of the largest extant early-modern citadels in Europe and covers the whole north-western part of the city centre. It was built after 1665 on Petersberg hill and was in military use until 1963. It dates from a time when Erfurt was ruled by the Electors of Mainz and is a unique example of the European style of fortress construction. Beneath the citadel is an underground maze of passageways that ...
Founded: 1665 | Location: Erfurt, Germany

Weinheim Castle

Weinheim Castle (Weinheimer Schloss) was built in the early 1400s by Rupert of the Palatinate. Louis III, also Elector Palatine, finished it to the current appearance in 1537. The castle tower were restored to the neo-Gothic style in 1868 by Baron Christian Friedrich Gustav von Berckheim.
Founded: 15th century | Location: Weinheim, Germany

Electoral Castle

The Electoral Castle, with its solid construction and bulky tower, forms the townscape and portrays the power of its builder, the Archbishop and Elector of Trier. The castle had many purposes. It was a fortification to keep enemies out, a stronghold to keep the Boppard nobles at bay and a toll castle for collecting toll from the ships passing Boppard and filling the Elector’s pockets. Like most castles along the Rhine, ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Boppard, Germany

Rheinstein Castle

Rheinstein castle was constructed around 1316-1317. It was important for its strategic location. By 1344, the castle was in decline. By the time of the Palatine War of Succession, the castle was very dilapidated. During the romantic period in the 19th century, Prince Frederick of Prussia (1794–1863) bought the castle and it was rebuilt. In 1975 the opera singer Hermann Hecher bought the castle. It"s due to him ...
Founded: 1316 | Location: Trechtingshausen, Germany

Sonnenstein Castle

The Sonnenstein Castle is a castle in Pirna housed a mental hospital, which operated from 1811 to the end of World War II in 1945. During the War, it functioned as an extermination centrefor the Third Reich Action T4 program. It was shut down following the war, and reopened in 1970. Sonnenstein was built after 1460 on the site of a former medieval castle. Sonnenstein castle was used as a mental home since 1811. Am ...
Founded: 1460 | Location: Pirna, Germany

Vondern Castle

Vondern castle was founded probably in the 12th or 13th century. The estate appears in documents in 1266, as the home of Gerhard de Vondere. Today Vondern is used for regular concerts, weddings and medieval market in summer.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Oberhausen, Germany

Husum Castle

Husum castle is the only manor-castle on the western coast of Schleswig-Holstein and highlights the important role that Husum has always played for the western part of the state. Duke Adolf von Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf (1526-1586) erected the castle in the Dutch Renaissance style between 1577 and 1582. He was the first ruler of this dukedom which had been formed by means of the settlement of an estate in 1544; the duke ...
Founded: 1577-1582 | Location: Husum, Germany

Stahleck Castle

The exact building year of Stahleck castle is not known, but it has been proved that the castle was already occupied since the year 1095. It's first mentioned in documents in the year 1135 under Goswin von Hochstadt. Until 1148 almost 10 years of fight followed for the rights of the Stahleck. In the year 1156, after the death of Hermann of Stahleck, his stepbrother Konrad von Hohenstaufen became count palatine of Bachara ...
Founded: c. 1135 | Location: Bacharach, Germany

Schloss Berge

Schloss Berge was mentioned first time in the 13th century, but the current Late Baroque and Classicism style appearance dates from 1785-1788. Today Berge is a hotel and restaurant.
Founded: 1785-1788 | Location: Gelsenkirchen, Germany

Speyer Old Gate

The Old Gate (Altpoertel) is the medieval west city gate of Speyer, and is one of the original 68 towers in the old walls and gates. Today it is one of the largest and most architecturally significant of the remaining city gates in Germany. The Old Gate was built between 1230 and 1250 on the ruins of a previous tower. The bottom of the 13th century tower remains as the foundation but, in 1511, Speyer's mayor ordered that ...
Founded: 1230-1250 | Location: Speyer, Germany

Altenburg Castle

Altenburg castle is perched on top of Bamberg"s highest hill and is one of Bamberg"s major landmarks. The castle was first mentioned in 1109 and was used at this time as a refuge. In the 14th and 15th centuries it served as a richly furnished residence for Bamberg"s bishops, but was almost completely destroyed in 1553 by margrave Alfred Alcibiades von Brandenburg-Kulmbach in the second margrave war. The on ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bamberg, Germany

Schönburg Castle

Schönburg Castle was first mentioned in history between the years 911 and 1166. From the 12th century, the Dukes of Schönburg ruled over the town of Oberwesel and had also the right to levy customs on the Rhine river. The most famous was Friedrich von Schönburg - a much-feared man known as “Marshall Schomberg” - who in the 17th century served as a colonel and as a general under the King of Franc ...
Founded: 1100-1149 | Location: Oberwesel, Germany

Altena Castle

Altena Castle was erected by the brothers Adolf and Everhard von Berg around the year 1108 after Henry V granted them land in Sauerland. On Wulfseck Mountain they built their castle, which they named Wulfeshagen, later Altena. This is one of the three legends of the establishment of the county of Altena and the building of the castle. After the acquisition of Mark near the city of Hamm in 1198, the counts of Altena ...
Founded: 1108 | Location: Altena, 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.