Who isn't fascinated by castles? Well, ok, some of you might not be, but I can tell you that I am. I love, love, love them. I guess, mostly because I didn't grow up with them, so therefore, I find them amazing.
Germany should be considered the capital of castles in the world. It simply has 20,000 of them! Yeap, you read that right, 20,000!!! I don't think I'd be able to visit them all in a life time. I read that Wales has more castles than any other country in Europe, but then I checked and it has 400 castles. How does that even compare to 20 friking thousand? What happened was, once upon a time, when the Roman Empire was all the rage, every piece of land was considered a country. So, obviously, they had to build a castle to protect their land.
For example, if you drive along the Rhein river, one of the wine regions around here, you will see many castles upon the hills. One after the other, because of just that, they had to protect their country.
The list of castles includes forts, palaces and manor houses. Some are still intact and others are just ruins. Some are livable, or turned into hotels, hostels, restaurants, etc.
Every time I visit a different one, I start to imagine, how did they live? What was it like? How many servants did they have? It's a shame that Victoria doesn't get to see many of them with me, but we learn a lot about history when we do visit them. And you can't top the views from up there. On some of them you can even go up on the towers, which is pretty cool and a little scary depending on the state of the stairs.
When you visit castles in Germany you might have to pay a fee to enter or not. It really just depends on what's on offer. Usually with ruins you can visit for free and wonder around at your leisure.
If you are visiting a casle such as Heidelberg, you pay a small fee to visit the grounds and garden. If you want to go inside, you must book a tour at an extra charge. Now to visit the Eltz castle, you can visit the grounds for free and there is a charge only if you decide to tour the inside of the castle with a guide. So it really varies which castle it is, how it's set up, etc.
There is always a small gift shop one or two places to eat, and free restrooms.
I've found that the tours are usually pretty good, I usually do them in English because I want to actually understand them, but hey, there is hope that one day I will do them in German too. In saying that, when my parents were in town we did one in Germany (that was the only option).
Getting to them
Some castles have parking right near them, but some others don't. Actually most don't. You park your car either on the street or in a provided parking lot and walk the rest of the way. Be careful though. Not every street parking is actually street parking... I got a fine when I visited the Stolzenfels castle in Koblenz, and then afterwards I found out there was an actual parking space. So just keep an eye out. Oh, to get to Stonzenfels, you can take one of the taxis at the bottom and they take you up there, but the walk is beautiful as well.
Planning Your Visit
Before you go just have a quick look on their website. Usually they will all have a good site in both English and German, but sometimes only in German. Have a look at:
- Opening times. Once I got to a castle and they were closed, they only let you in with a guided tour scheduled, and those only happen every other day.
- Times for the guided tours
- Prices for guided tours, parking
- Make sure you have cash because I haven't seen any accepting cards yet
- Distance from home to ensure you have plenty of time to enjoy and take lots and lots of pictures
List of Castles I've Visited In Germany
Burg Lahneck, Rhineland-Palatinate
Eltz Castle, Rhineland-Palatinate
Stonzenfels Castle, Rhineland-Palatinate
Sanssouci Palace, Berlin/Brandenburg (I need to go back because we were short for time and only drove around the grounds, we didn't go in)
Auerbach Castle, Hesse
Burg Koenigstein, Taunus-Hesse
Frankenstein Castle, Hesse
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