Neideck Castle

Wiesenttal, Germany

Neideck Castle is a former high medieval nobleman's castle above the village of Streitberg, in the municipality of Wiesenttal. As a result of its exposed location above the valley of the Wiesent, it has become a symbol of Franconian Switzerland. The ruins are freely accessible; the tower house is used as a viewing point. The ruins may be reached on various hiking trails from the valley or from the villages on the plateau.

The castle was first mentioned in 1312 as the property of the edelfrei family of Schlüsselberg. A Henry of Neideck, however, was recorded as early as 1219 in a documentary source. The castle was therefore probably built in the 12th century, possibly as early as 1150–60. At that time there was probably only a small wooden outer bailey in front of the main castle on the distinctive shoulder of rock above the Wiesent valley.

Schlüsselberg possession

From 1312 it was owned by Conrad II of Schlüsselberg, the most important and the last representative of his family line. He expanded the Neideck into a fortress. With an area of 140 × 200 metres, it was one of the largest German castles. The shield wall, outer and inner moats, two artillery towers, main ditch and bridge, the tower house and adjoining building elements of the main castle are still visible. When Conrad of Schlüsselberg got into a feud in 1347 over the imposition of a toll with the bishops of Würzburg and Bamberg and the Burgrave of Nuremberg, they attacked and defeated him. Conrad, himself, was killed on 14 September 1347 by a stone fired from a trebuchet and the castle was subsequently destroyed. After the siege, Neideck became the seat of an office (Amt) of the bishops of Bamberg.

Destruction and later history

After the castle had survived the Peasant's War in 1525, it was captured and set on fire in 1553 in Second Margrave War by mercenaries of Margrave Albert Alcibiades of Brandenburg-Kulmbach. Since then it has been a ruin.

Until the early 19th century, the fortress was used by the residents of the valley as a quarry. Its decline was further accelerated in the period 1737-1743 when rock on which the castle stands was quarried for marble.


The large castle complex consists of three separate areas, separated by deep neck ditches. Even the outer bailey was protected by a moat approximately 100 metres long, 22 metres wide and about 7 metres deep. The towering shield wall behind it was built around 1300. Of its other buildings only small traces of the foundations remain.

The middle bailey was reinforced in the early 16th century by two artillery roundels that have partly survived. The 'cross key' embrasures (Kreuzschlüsselscharten) of the eastern tower were designed for arquebuses and crossbows. The rectangular slits of the western roundel were probably added around 1531–32. This bastion flanked the approach road. The curtain walls between the roundels and the gate of the middle bailey have been almost completely lost.

The inner bailey is located on a projecting spur of rock that points northeast. The mighty tower house rises three stories above its foundations. It was built from 1347 after the destruction of the castle on those older foundations and walls that were still usable. The former vault of the ground floor probably dates to the early 13th century. Above the surviving three storeys there was originally a fourth stone upper storey, possibly even a timber-framed house. The obligatory elevated entrance on the first floor has survived; the ground floor access was only created in modern times. Since 2008, a staircase has enabled visitors to ascend to the 10 metre-high wall crown.

The remaining elements of the inner bailey date largely to the period around 1480, when the fortress was expanded and reinforced after a siege. Still recognisable are the barrel vaulted cellar of a building and the shaft of a filter cistern. The historical entrance consisted of a late mediaeval gatehouse and a stone bridge over the deep neck ditch. In front of the gatehouse lay a short drawbridge.



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Founded: 12th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Germany
Historical period: Hohenstaufen Dynasty (Germany)

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4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Brad Deteau (14 months ago)
Amazing history and very strategic and scenic point on the cliff. Spectacular!
Daniel Lindmark (2 years ago)
Cool little ruin with an amazing view! You can easily walk there from the nearby village Streitberg or wander about on the forest trails deeper into the woods.
Wyncent Wong (3 years ago)
Stunning view from up here especially during autumn. Definitely worth a visit. The hike up is relatively easy and enjoy the autumn colors.
Schorsch K (3 years ago)
one of highlights of franconia swiss - countryside. the best you park at the open air swimming pool car park to take the 20 Min Walk up to the ruins to enjoy the view from the tower of the castle. Amazing view .
Ankit Ramani (3 years ago)
Very good place to spend time with family. Easy hike to the castle. You can see beautiful views from there. Bring your food and water with you and you can easily spend several hours in nature.
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