Castles and fortifications in Germany

Lichtenberg Castle

The Lichtenberg Castle was first mentioned in 1197 and is considered one of the oldest of Staufer family castles in Germany. In 1357 the castle and the village sold to Count Eberhard den Greiner. The feudal rule existed until 1805. The castle has been never destroyed. The late Romanesque chapel (1220-1230) has murals on from the mid-14th century. The gatehouse is gothic. The present appearance dates mainly from the 15th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lichtenberg, Germany

Katz Castle

Count Wilhelm II of Katzenelnbogen built the Katz Castle in the second half of the 14th century. Katz Castle was used as bastion and military base to protect the Rheinfels Castle. Together they formed a fortified bulwark with a barrier for levying of the Rhine toll. The extended view up to the bend of the river at the Loreley was also of great importance to secure salmon fishing. Due to the intentionally chosen location o ...
Founded: c. 1371 | Location: Sankt Goarshausen, Germany

Sooneck Castle

Sooneck Castle was first mentioned around 1271. Like neighbouring Burg Reichenstein (Rhein), the castle was managed by the lords of Hohenfels as bailiffs for Kornelimünster Abbey near Aachen. What is certain is that the castle was besieged in 1282 by King Rudolph I. His troops overran and destroyed the castle and the king imposed a ban on rebuilding it, which he explicitly restated in 1290. When the castle was rebuilt it ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Niederheimbach, Germany

Waldburg Castle

Waldburg is the ancestral castle of the stewards and imperial princes of the noble House of Waldburg. Waldburg castle is located on a natural elevation, a drumlin from the last glacial period, at 772 metres height above sea level. The raised situation with view to the west up to the Hohentwiel near Singen, to the north up to the Ulm Minster, to the east far back in the Alpine foothills and southwards far into the Swiss Al ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Waldburg, Germany

Hohenburg Castle Ruins

Hohenburg castle was first mentioned in 1146 by the Counts of Homburg. They gave their name to Homburg, the district capital and university town which lies at the foot of the castle, and which was granted town status by Emperor Ludwig the Bavarian in 1330. After the death of the last Count of Homburg in 1449, the castle and town fell to the Counts of Nassau-Saarbrücken. In the second half of the 16th century, Count ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Homburg, Germany

Gudenau Castle

The imposing two-part moated Burg Gudenau is the largest castle in the municipality of Wachtberg. Its grounds are a special feature, as they are the only Baroque garden under private ownership in the Rhineland. The castle stands in a flood plain at the foot of Villip, at the confluence of the Godesberg and Arzdorf streams. Built in the early 13th century, the main castle with four wings was extended in about 1560 with ex ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Wachtberg, Germany

Gutenfels Castle

Gutenfels Castle was built in 1220. It was used with Pfalzgrafenstein Castle in the middle of the Rhein and the fortified town of Kaub on the far side to provide an impenetrable toll zone for the Holy Roman Emperor until Prussia purchased the area (1866) and ended this toll in 1867. This castle, primarily owned (since 1257) by the Falkenstein family, is one of the most important examples of the Hohenstaufen military and ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Kaub, Germany

Johannisberg Castle

Schloss Johannisberg is a castle and winery in the Rheingau wine-growing region of Germany. It has been making wine for over 900 years. The winery is most noted for its claim to have 'discovered' late harvest wine. A mountain on the north bank of the River Rhine near Mainz has been associated with the Church and with winemaking since the Dark Ages, when the estate of Ludwig der Fromme ('Louis the Pious') made 6000 litres ...
Founded: 1716 | Location: Johannisberg, Germany

Klaffenbach Castle

Klaffenbach Castle is a rare sample of moated Renaissance castle in Saxony. It was built by Wolf Hünerkopf between 1555-1560. The four-storey building is surrounded by a moat. Striking architectural elements are the curved gable, the arched roof and the square shape of the building. The ground floor offers a small chapel next to the castle information, smaller event rooms and the gallery café.
Founded: 1555-1560 | Location: Chemnitz, Germany

Hardenstein Castle

Hardenstein Castle remains lie near the Ruhr River, surrounded by mountains, and are not easily accessible. Nearby ruins show that the castle was once part of an important mining centre, probably dating to the Middle Ages; the earliest records, from the 16th century, support this. The castle is featured in the legend of the Nibelungs. The castle's association with mining led to a legend that King Goldemar, a dwarf or ...
Founded: 1354 | Location: Herbede, Germany

Hohenberg Castle

Hohenberg Castle, situated adjacent to Czech Republic border, was built in the Hohenstaufen period between 1170 and 1220 to protect the important Schirndinger Pass. Around 1300 Hohenberg came to the possession of burgraves from Nuremberg. in 1433, Hans von Kotzau defended Hohenberg against the Hussites. The present castle was built mainly (ring wall, round towers) in the period around 1480. In the years 1499 and 1 ...
Founded: 1170-1480 | Location: Hohenberg an der Eger, Germany

Stargard Castle

Stargard Castle is the northernmost preserved hilltop castle in Germany and the oldest secular building in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern at the same time with the deepest dungeon tower in northern Germany. It was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle served as headquarters for Johann t'Serclaes, Count of Tilly, general of the Imperial forces, later becoming a seat of ducal administration ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Burg Stargard, Germany

Sterrenberg Castle

By 1034, Sterrenberg was being mentioned as an imperial castle, but the source is not certain. In 1190, Sterrenberg Castle is listed in the book of Werner von Bolanden as a fief, together with the custom point in Bornhofen. The noble family of Bolanden stayed as lords of Sterrenberg Castle until the second half of the 13th century. From this early period, the bergfried and the first, inner shield wall have survived.
Founded: 11th century | Location: Kamp-Bornhofen, Germany

Laufen Castle

Laufen Castle is a square-shaped castle overlooking the Salzach river that was built for the Archbishop of Salzburg in the 15th century. It is assumed to be built on the ruins of an ancient Roman structure and was first mentioned in the reign of Bishop Vergilius of Salzburg, and once again in the 13th century. On March 29, 1166, Emperor Barbarossa held court here. During World War II the castle was used first as a prison ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Laufen, Germany

Lütetsburg Castle

The construction of the original Lütetsburg castle dates back to the East Frisian chieftain Lütet Manninga. He lost his ancestral home in Westel to devastating floods between 1373 and 1377. As a consequence, he expanded the family property Uthoff into the moated castle Lützborch. Further outstanding castle lords and Knyphausen dynasty representatives followed, e.g. Dodo zu Innhausen und Knyphausen (1583-1636), wh ...
Founded: 1557 | Location: Lütetsburg, Germany

Leonberg Castle

Schloss Leonberg was founded in 1248 by count Ulrich I of Württemberg. The original castle was modified between 1560 and 1565 by the master builder Aberlin Tretsch by order of the duke Christoph. The widow of Frederick I of Württemberg, Duchess Sibylla (1564-1614), used the castle from 1609 as a widow"s residence. Later, the castle was still repeatedly used as a residence. The castle today is a tax office.
Founded: 1248 | Location: Leonberg, Germany

Mouse Tower

The Mouse Tower (Mäuseturm) is a stone tower on a small island in the Rhine. The Romans were the first to build a structure on this site. It later became part of Franconia, and it fell and had to be rebuilt many times. Hatto II, the Archbishop of Mainz, restored the tower in 968. The story of how it came to be called the 'Mouse Tower' comes from a folk tale (Hatto was being eaten alive by mice in a tower). ...
Founded: 968 AD / 1855 | Location: Bingen am Rhein, Germany

Dömitz Fortress

From a strategic point of view the mighty Dömitz fortress could hardly have been built in a better location: It protected the south-western border of Mecklenburg and the Elbe crossings. Furthermore, duties could be levied on the Elbe. The pentagon-shaped Renaissance fortress was erected between 1559 und 1565 under Duke Johann Albrecht I. The architect was Francesco a Bornau, an Italian. From the 18th century on, the for ...
Founded: 1559-1565 | Location: Dömitz, Germany

Falkenberg Castle

Falkenberg Castle was founded probably between 895-898 AD, but not mentioned before 1154. In  1294 Aldsassen monastery bought it. In 1428 the monks successfully defend the castle against the Hussite invasion. During the Thirty Years" War in 1648 Hans Christoff von Königsmarck (Swedish-German soldier) conquered the castle and left it in ruins. After been decayed for centuries, Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schul ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Falkenberg (Oberpfalz), Germany

Waldenbuch Castle

Schloss Waldenbuch served as a hunting lodge of the dukes of Württemberg. The core of the complex goes back to a castle that was already mentioned in 1381. Duke Christoph expanded the old castle into a hunting lodge in 1562-1566. He built a rectangular two-storey building. Today the castle hosts the museum of everyday culture.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Waldenbuch, 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.