Castles in the Neckar Valley

Heidelberg Castle

Heidelberg Castle is a famous ruin and one of the the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. The rich and eventful history of Heidelberg Palace began when the counts palatine of the Rhine, – later prince electors – established their residence at Heidelberg. The earliest castle structure was built before 1214 and later expanded into two castles circa 1294; however, in 1537, a lightning-bolt de ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Heidelberg, Germany

Bad Rappenau Wasserschloss

The Wasserschloss (water castle) in Bad Rappenau is a moated castle from the early 17th century. The castle was built in 1601 by the Lords of Gemmingen on the site of an older manor. Today it is used for cultural events.
Founded: 1601 | Location: Bad Rappenau, Germany

Hirschhorn Castle

Hirschhorn Castle was built around 1250-1260 on land given as a fief by Lorsch Abbey, which since 1232 was in the possession of the Archbishop of Mainz. In the castle, which is fortified by walls and towers, a keep, a great hall, stables and several gates and outbuildings can still be seen.
Founded: 1250-1260 | Location: Hirschhorn, Germany

Neuburg Castle

Neuburg Castle was constructed around 1290 to the site of earlier castle owned by the Mosbach Abbey. The main building was reconstructed in 1500-1619 by the lords of Rossau. In 1945 the state of Baden-Württemberg took over the castle. For several years, it served as a refugee camp. Since 2001 Neuburg has been a hotel.
Founded: 1290 | Location: Obrigheim, Germany

Dilsberg Castle

Dilsberg Castle is a castle on a hill above the River Neckar. The castle was built by the counts of Lauffen in the 12th century. In the 13th century it became the main castle for the counts. In the 14th century it became part of the Electorate of the Palatinate and received town rights in 1347. During the Thirty Years" War, the castle was considered impregnable until Imperial forces under Tilly took the castle in 1622 aft ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Dilsberg, 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

Zwingenberg Castle

Zwingenberg Castle dates from the 13th century. In the 1326 the lords of Zwingenberg were mentioned as an owner. In 1364 the castle was conquered and destroyed by the imperial forces. The fortress and estate were then immediately divided in two equal parts and bought by the Palatinate and the archbishoprie of Mainz. The reconstruction of the castle was made by the brothers Hans and Eberhard of Hirschhorn in 1404. The brot ...
Founded: 1404 | Location: Zwingenberg, Germany

Hornberg Castle

Hornberg Castle was probably originally built in the late 12th century. The first mention of the castle dates from 1184. In 1259 lords of Hornberg sold the castle to the bishop of Speyer. Since 1612 it has been owned by the 12th generations of Gemmingen barons. Today the castle is a hotel. Hornberg originally consisted of two separate castles. Between them was a bailey. Around 1510, both castles were enclosed together wi ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Neckarzimmern, Germany

Mittelburg Castle

Mittelburg castle, one of the four castles above Neckarsteinach, was probably built around 1165 by Conrad I of Steinach, the youngest son of Bligger II of Steinach. The castle was rebuilt into a Renaissance palace in the 16th century and Gothicized in the 19th century. Nowadays it is a home to the von Warsberg-Dorth family
Founded: c. 1165 | Location: Neckarsteinach, Germany

Eberbach Castle Ruins

Eberbach Castle consists of three separate castles situated about 160 metres high above the river Neckar. It is assumed that the front castle was built in the last quarter of the 12th century, the middle castle ca. 1200 and the rear castle in the second quarter of the 13th century. In 1227 King Henry VII was given Eberbach Castle as a fief by the Bishop of Worms. Presumably the castles remained in the possession of the em ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Eberbach, Germany

Ehrenberg Castle

Ehrenberg Castle dates from the early 12th century when it was built by the Counts of Lauffen. The oldest part of the wall around the main castle. The building of the main castle date from the 12th and 13th centuries. To existing keep dates from 1235. The castle was ruined in the Thirty Years" War. The new residential and farm buildings have been built in the 17th and 18th century. Today Ehrenberg is privately owned ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Bad Rappenau, Germany

Guttenberg Castle

One of the few intact medieval castle complexes from the Stauffer period lies high above the romantic Neckar River valley surrounded by vineyards and endless forests. The Guttenberg castle has been in the possession of the barons of Gemmimgen-Guttenberg since 1449. The castle was never destroyed. The complex includes, among others, a local history museum 'Life in a Knight´s Castle'.
Founded: c. 1225 | Location: Haßmersheim, Germany

Weinsberg Castle Ruins

Weinsberg castle was established on a mountain at the trade route running from Heilbronn to Schwäbisch Hall around the year 1000. In 1140 the castle was besieged by Konrad III in the course of the struggles between the Staufers and the Welfs. Finally it had to surrender on December 21, 1140, since the army of Welf VI to release the castle had been defeated by the Staufers in a battle. According to the report of the C ...
Founded: c. 1000 | Location: Weinsberg, 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

Horneck Castle

Horneck castle was built around 1200 and was given to the Teutonic Order by Konrad von Horneck in 1438, thereby making it the seat of the 'Deutschmeister' (German Master) until it was destroyed in 1525 by fire during the German Peasants" War. Despite reconstruction shortly after Horneck Castle"s destruction, Mergentheim became the new headquarters for the Teutonic Order in that region in 1527. As of 2 ...
Founded: 1200/1533 | Location: Gundelsheim, Germany

Heinsheim Castle

Heinsheim castle complex has been privately owned by the family von Racknitz since ca. 1720. The main building was erected in the early 18th century, wings and further farm buildings were added in the course of the centuries. It was first mentioned in 1180 in connection with their ancestral seat, Perneck Castle in Styria; in ca. 1720 the family von Racknitz gained the rule of Heinsheim, and in 1727 they acquired all perti ...
Founded: 18th century | Location: Bad Rappenau, 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

Engelburg Castle Ruins

The remains of the Engelburg castle was probably built in 1260-1280 to the site of 8th century hill fort. The castle was destroyed in 1312 in the war between the Emperor and city states. From the former castle only foundations can be seen.
Founded: 1260-1280 | Location: Mühlhausen, Germany

Reichenstein Castle Ruins

The Reichenstein castle was built in 12th century at the northern end of the Hollmuth hill. In the 14th century it was acquired by the Palatinate but only one century later it was abandoned. On a 17th century engraving by Merian the castle is depicted as a ruin. Today, only some wall fragments are left. The castle complex has an almost rectangular grouned plan; it is saperated from the hill by a moat. The terracing was do ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Neckargemünd, Germany

Strahlenburg Castle Ruins

Conrad von Strahlenberg started to build the Strahlenburg castle around 1235. The castle was only the beginning of a planned defense brigade for the city of Schriesheim. Conrad von Strahlenburg built this castle to get a higher income through taxes and tolls. The building of the castle was against the law, because the land was owned by the monastery of Ellwangen. Emperor Friedrich the Second ruled during these times. The ...
Founded: | Location: Schriesheim, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

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 faces. In the centre of the site is a 152.5 metre deep well, which is the deepest in Saxony and second deepest well in Europe.

The fortress, which for centuries was used as a state prison, is still intact and is now one of Saxony's foremost tourist attractions, with 700,000 visitors per year.

By far the oldest written record of a castle on the Königstein is found in a deed by King Wenceslas I of Bohemia dating to the year 1233. It is probable that there had been a stone castle on the Königstein as early as the 12th century. The oldest surviving structure today is the castle chapel built at the turn of the 13th century. In the years 1563 to 1569 the 152.5 metre deep well was bored into the rock within the castle - until that point the garrison of the Königstein had to obtain water from cisterns and by collecting rainwater.

Between 1589 and 1591/97 Prince-Elector Christian I of Saxony and his successor had the castle developed into the strongest fortification in Saxony. The hill was now surrounded with high walls. Buildings were erected, including the Gatehouse (Torhaus), the Streichwehr, the Old Barracks (Alte Kaserne), the Christiansburg (Friedrichsburg) and the Old Armoury (Altes Zeughaus). The second construction period followed from 1619 to 1681, during which the John George Bastion was built. The third construction period is seen as the time from 1694 to 1756, which included the expansion of the Old Barracks. From 1722 to 1725, at the behest of August the Strong, coopers under Böttger built the enormous Königstein Wine Barrel, the greatest wine barrel in the world, in the cellar of the Magdalenenburg which had a capacity of 249,838 litres. It cost 8,230 thalers, 18 groschen and 9 pfennigs. The butt, which was once completely filled with country wine from the Meißen vineyards, had to be removed again in 1818 due to its poor condition. Because of Böttger, Königstein Fortress is also the site where European porcelain started.

Even after the expansion during those periods of time there continued to be modifications and additions on the extensive plateau. The Treasury (Schatzhaus) was built from 1854 to 1855. After the fortress had been incorporated in 1871 into the fortification system of the new German Empire, battery ramparts were constructed from 1870 to 1895 with eight firing points, that were to have provided all-round defence for the fortress in case of an attack that, in the event, never came. This was at this time that the last major building work was done on the fortress.

Because Königstein Fortress was regarded as unconquerable, the Saxon monarchs retreated to it from Wittenberg and later Dresden during times of crisis and also deposited the state treasure and many works of art from the famous Zwinger here; it was also used as a country retreat due to its lovely surroundings.

The fortress played an important role in the History of Saxony, albeit less as a result of military action. The Saxon Dukes and Prince-Electors used the fortress primarily as a secure refuge during times of war, as a hunting lodge and maison de plaisance, but also as a dreaded state prison. Its actual military significance was rather marginal.

Since 1955 the fortress has been an open-air, military history museum of high touristic value.