Castles and Palaces
Germany boasts a great number of impressive castles and palaces. The majority of them were constructed in the Middle Ages when Germany was not a centrally organized state but a patchwork of small dominions ruled by noble families or clerics. Their castles (German: Burgen) were needed as fortifications against robber knights, neighbors who had turned vicious, and also against their peasants and subjects whom they exploited.
Various influences can be seen in the architectural styles of these buildings. Knights returning from wars and revolts brought new ideas for castle construction after seeing the enemy’s fortifications – especially in the Mediterranean area and in Eastern Europe. Many different building materials were used and castles were elaborately decorated on the interior.
There are several hunded medieval castles in Germany, some are just ruins but many of them were painstakingly restored and are open to visitors. We can only mention very few of them.
The Wartburg Castle is located in Eisenach in Thuringia. It is one of the oldest castles in Germany and was built in the 12th and 13th centuries on a rocky crag more than 1300 feet high. The national monument boasts one of the best-preserved Romanesque great halls from the Hohenstaufen period. Martin Luther, founder of the Lutheran Prostestant Church, made his Bible translation while staying and hiding in the Wartburg.
Schwerin’s stunning castle is surrounded by water, typical for the castles in the northern lowland districts. The “Neuschwanstein of the North” with its impressive grand hall, the ancestral gallery, and the orangery combines architectural styles and elements of almost all medieval centuries.
Neuschwanstein is the most famous castle of the eccentric Bavarian King Ludwig II. It was built in the neo-late romanesque style. With its turrets and mock-medievalism, its interior styles ranging from Byzantine through Romanesque to Gothic its a real fairy-tale fantasy come true. This magnificent castle is famous for its fantastic views of the Alps.
This delightful palace was also built by the Bavarian King Ludwig II between 1870 and 1879. Inspired by the French Castle of Versailles its interior has characteristically lavish adornments, full of mirrors, painted ceilings and gilded cherubs, in a mixture of Renaissance and baroque styles. The surroundig gardens in french, italian and english style include a grand cascade and artificial grottos.
This magificent medieval castle lies west of Koblenz above the left bank of the river Mosel surrounded by forests. Eltz castle is positioned in a strategically advantageous location and was first mentioned in 1225. With its graceful spires and towers the Eltz is the typical fairytale castle. Apart from a five-year siege from 1331 until 1336, the castle was never exposed to an armed conflict and remains amazingly well preserved.