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

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy's most lavish country retreat: during Spain's Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer's house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King's Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince's Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King's Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince's Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI's old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette's gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.