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Standing out amid the dense verdure of Bavaria, the imposing facade of the Hohenschwangau Castle looks nothing short of a castle from a fairytale. Dating back to the 19th Century and credited to Maximilian II of Bavaria, the castle was home to King Ludwig II when he was a child. The architecture and interiors of the castle are simply spectacular. The castle is open to public visitation throughout the year and also offers guided tours in several languages. The castle is one of the prime tourist attractions in the city. The Schloss Hohenschwangau is also one of the few castles in the country that remained unscathed during both World War I and World War II.
Completed in 1744, the Würzburg Residence is a stunning palace in Baroque style. The grand staircase, chapel and salon are particularly impressive. There are also beautiful frescoes, painted by the Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. Even Napoleon Bonaparte was struck with the palace's beauty, staying there three different times between 1806 and 1813. The Würzburg Residence was severely damaged by an airstrike during World War II. However, it has been diligently restored, and now enjoys a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Located on a mountainside overlooking the Hohenschwangau valley, the Neuschwanstein Castle is a dream-like structure in an idyllic setting. Construction of the castle began in 1869 but was not completed until 1892. King Ludwig II commissioned its construction so that he could stay in a beautiful castle when he wanted to escape the royal courts. However, the king did not live to see the castle's completion. Visitors can explore the castle's Byzantine, Romanesque, and Gothic-inspired interior, including the third and fourth floors, which were supposed to have been the king’s residences. These floors house opulent murals and spectacular wood carvings. Tours of the castle are available throughout the day. Visitors must visit the nearby Mary's Bridge, from where the view of the castle and its surroundings is stunning.
Longer in width than the Palace of Versailles, Schloss Nymphenburg was the impressive summer residence of the Wittelsbachs. One of the most popular attractions in Munich, the palace and its grounds are home to several landmarks showcasing diverse architectural styles. Designed by Italian Baroque architect Augustino Barelli, the palace still preserves its rococo and baroque rooms. The ornate, marble polished Stone Hall is particularly impressive and the famous 'Schönheitengalerie' (Gallery of the Beauties) containing the portraits of 36 local women, is a must see for visitors. A few interesting smaller palaces can be found in the park: the Amalienburg, Pagodenburg and Badenburg. The Marstallmuseum has a comprehensive display of carriages, sleds and crockery, while the Meditationskapelle (Meditation Chapel) with its Magdalenenklause is also worth a visit.
The Linderhof Palace, nestled in the western corner of Ettal, is the smallest castle to have been constructed by King Ludwig II. The tour of the palace gives visitors a glimpse into the opulent life that King Ludwig II led. From various chambers, dining rooms, grottos, and the King's favorite Hall of Mirrors, the ornate castle and its breathtaking expanse gives an up and close peek into the royal life. In winter when the castle is covered in snow, it resembles a spectacular, magical snow globe. While the castle is the smallest in size among all three palaces commissioned by King Ludwig II, it is also one of the most beautiful and exquisite royal complexes.
A castle that looks straight out of a fairy tale, the Hohenzollern is the epitome of royalty. Perched on a hilltop, the palace is the ancestral seat of the House of Hohenzollern. While cloud covers add a mystical allure to the magnificent castle, its walls are awash in a gleaming golden color on a bright sunny day. An architectural wonder, the neo-gothic castle attracts thousands of curious tourists from all over the world. In addition to its captivating construction, the jeweled items on display, impressive art collection and an open-air cinema are noteworthy attractions of the castle.
When you first look at the Lichtenstein Castle from a distance, it is reminiscent of a castle out of Disney movies. Sitting atop a cliff, this castle exudes charm and elegance. It is believed that the castle has been around since the 12th Century but sustained damages during periods of turbulence and was rebuilt time and again. The Neo-Gothic style of the castle gives it a wonderful vintage charm which is extended to its interiors. The castle houses arms and ammunition from centuries past; these are still conserved in impeccable conditions and are a treat to observe.
Wartburg Castle dates back to the Middle Ages and has witnessed many historical events. It was at this very place where Martin Luther is said to have translated the Bible for the layman and where St. Elisabeth of Hungary stayed for a long time. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, this castle's architecture mainly reflects Romanesque designs, and its premises also feature a museum. Castle timings and admission fees may vary. Check the website for more details.
Construction on the impressive Eltz Castle began some time in the 9th-Century. Continued up through the 11th-Century, when the main portion of the castle was built; this structure can still be seen today. Eltz Castle was the home of Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in the 12th Century. Following a family feud in the 13th Century, the castle came to be known as 'Ganerbenburg' for housing several lineages in its many rooms, and not just the royal family alone. Encompassed by the Elzbach River, it is characterized by its eight towers. A tour of the Eltz Castle gives visitors a glimpse of the courtyard, treasury, armor room, kitchen and the picturesque grounds. The castle was featured on the 500 Deutsche Mark note of Germany.
Housed in the region above the Braubach town within the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany is the fortress of Marksburg, an iconic castle and a famous sight. Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fortress dates back to the 12th Century. However, it was reconstructed and remodeled many times throughout the course of its existence. Guided tours are available and lend valuable insight into the history and culture of the castles' inhabitants as well as the surrounding regions.
Rising 100 meters (330 foot) above the scenic Moselle River, Reichsburg Cochem is a towering medieval period castle perched atop a hill. Originally, its purpose was to collect a toll from each passing shop, now it's serves as a popular tourist destination in the area. Its unique combination of neo-gothic architecture with remnants of Romanesque design stands testament to the many hands it changed over the centuries. Reichsburg Cochem also provides interesting tours for the whole family. Check out the tour timings on the website.
No trip to Heidelberg would be complete without a visit to the castle. Dominating the city from the brow of the hill, the castle offers breathtaking views over the old town and the River Rhine. The castle is host to the Schlossfestspiele castle pageant and also the fantastic firework displays that illuminate the castle several times a year. Built over a period spanning three centuries, the castle developed from being a simple medieval fortress into a splendid Renaissance palace. A royal structure nestled amid bucolic settings, the castle is one of the most spectacular sights to see in Heidelberg.