Castles in the Neckar Valley

Schadeck Castle Ruins

Schadeck Castle is the most recent and smallest, but still most interesting of the four Neckarstein castles. It is perched on the high mountain like a bird's nest, which is why it is, in fact, called the 'Swallow's Nest'. After Ulrich II (1236-1257) inherited the 'front castle' from his father Ulrich I and another son joined the clergy, Bligger V, the third son, was forced to build a new castle. However, there was no more ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Neckarsteinach, Germany

Minneburg Castle Ruins

Minneburg was built some time in the 1200s, though its origin unknown. According to legend, the castle name was derived from a woman, Minna von Horneck by name, who was the love of Graf von Schwarzenberg who left on the Crusades. When he returned he found her on her deathbed and promised to build a castle in her honor. The Bergfried, or main tower, as well as the palas were completed around 1300, situated on a prominent ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Neckargerach, Germany

Hinterburg Castle Ruins

Hinterburg is one of the four castles in a string along the Neckar River, built by the von Steinach family in the 1100s. It is the oldest of the four, serving a strategic purpose in allowing the lords to observe the Neckar and Steinachtal. One of the earliest records mentions Bligger von Steinach, c. 1160. His son, Bligger II, who was also a famous minstrel of the time, added much of the outer wall that helped drasticall ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Neckarsteinach, Germany

Tiefburg Castle Ruins

It is not known exactly when the Tiefburg castle was built or by whom. It is assumed that it was built in the 12th century, possibly by the Abbey of Lorsch or the Count Palatinates of the Rhine (later known as the Prince Electors of the Palatinate), who set up residence in nearby Heidelberg around this time. It is also possible that the castle had its origins in a fortiied estate. The knights of Handschuhsheim who lived i ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Heidelberg, Germany

Schauenburg Castle Ruins

Schauenburg castle was built in the first half of the 12th century by the Edelfreien of Schauenburg. The family died out already in the late 13th century, however, the castle was still used and expanded in the mid-14th century. In 1460 the castle was besieged for five days and razed by Friedrich I in Baden-Palatine War. From the castle the curtain wall and keep have survived.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Dossenheim, Germany

Dauchstein Castle Ruins

Dauchstein castle was built in 1030 as a toll station for the Hohenstaufen family. As the castle was no longer used after the construction of the new residential castle, it was left to decay. Today the tower exists, other buildings are in ruins.
Founded: 1030 | Location: Binau, Germany

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Château de Chaumont

The Château de Chaumont was founded in the 10th century by Odo I, Count of Blois. The purpose was to protect his lands from attacks from his feudal rivals, Fulk Nerra, Count of Anjou. On his behalf the Norman Gelduin received it, improved it and held it as his own. His great-niece Denise de Fougère, having married Sulpice d'Amboise, passed the château into the Amboise family for five centuries.

Pierre d'Amboise unsuccessfully rebelled against King Louis XI and his property was confiscated, and the castle was dismantled on royal order in 1465. It was later rebuilt by Charles I d'Amboise from 1465–1475 and then finished by his son, Charles II d'Amboise de Chaumont from 1498–1510, with help from his uncle, Cardinal Georges d'Amboise; some Renaissance features were to be seen in buildings that retained their overall medieval appearance. The château was acquired by Catherine de Medici in 1550. There she entertained numerous astrologers, among them Nostradamus. When her husband, Henry II, died in 1559 she forced his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, to exchange Château de Chaumont for Château de Chenonceau which Henry had given to de Poitiers. Diane de Poitiers only lived at Chaumont for a short while.

Later Chaumont has changed hands several times. Paul de Beauvilliers bought the château in 1699, modernized some of its interiors and decorated it with sufficient grandeur to house the duc d'Anjou on his way to become king of Spain in 1700. Monsieur Bertin demolished the north wing to open the house towards the river view in the modern fashion.

In 1750, Jacques-Donatien Le Ray purchased the castle as a country home where he established a glassmaking and pottery factory. He was considered the French "Father of the American Revolution" because he loved America. However, in 1789, the new French Revolutionary Government seized Le Ray's assets, including his beloved Château de Chaumont.

The castle has been classified as a Monument historique since 1840 by the French Ministry of Culture. The Château de Chaumont is currently a museum and every year hosts a Garden Festival from April to October where contemporary garden designers display their work in an English-style garden.