German castles are as different as they are varied. From the fairytale castle built by King Ludwig II (known as 'Mad King Ludwig') which was the inspiration behind Walt Disney’s castle to the infamous Colditz Castle, used as a prisoner of war camp during WWII.
A visit to Germany and her castles is like stepping back to a time when Kings, Princes and Emperors ruled the land. You can marvel at the splendour and elegance, a legacy left behind by their past Lords and masters. You can wonder in ancient forests and woods. You can trek up snow covered mountains or cruise the tranquil waters of the Rhine. German castles are all original. There is not just a handful of well-preserved ones, but several hundred from all ages and of every genre.
Each has its own long and thrilling history and nearly all offer hospitality. This ranges from comfortable castle hotels and distinctive restaurants to museums and cultural events. You can watch jousting; join in feasts and banquets typical of the middle Ages. You can enjoy concerts and theatre performances against imposing backdrops.
Is a 19th-century Romanesque Revival palace on a rugged hill above the village of Hohenschwangau near Füssen in southwest Bavaria, Germany. The palace was commissioned by Ludwig II of Bavaria as a retreat and as a homage to Richard Wagner. Contrary to common belief, Ludwig paid for the palace out of his personal fortune and extensive borrowing, not with Bavarian public funds
The palace was intended as a personal refuge for the reclusive king, but it was opened to the paying public immediately after his death in 1886. Since then over 60 million people have visited Neuschwanstein Castle. More than 1.3 million people visit annually, with up to 6,000 per day in the summer. The palace has appeared prominently in several movies and was the inspiration for Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle and later, similar structures.
Neuschwanstein Castle consists of several individual structures which were erected over a length of 150 metres on the top of a cliff ridge. The elongate building is furnished with numerous towers, ornamental turrets, gables, balconies, pinnacles and sculptures. Following Romanesque style, most window openings are fashioned as bi- and triforia. Before the backdrop of the Tegelberg and the Pöllat Gorge in the south and the Alpine foothills with their lakes in the north, the ensemble of individual buildings provides varying picturesque views of the palace from all directions. It was designed as the romantic ideal of a knight's castle.
Unlike "real" castles, whose building stock is in most cases the result of centuries of building activity, Neuschwanstein was planned from the inception as an intentionally asymmetric building, and erected in consecutive stages. Typical attributes of a castle were included, but real fortifications – the most important feature of a medieval aristocratic estate – were dispensed with.
Eisenach is best known as the site of Schloss Wartburg (Wartburg Castle), most famous for sheltering Martin Luther while he translated the New Testament into German. Founded in 1067, it is also one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Germany. It is reached by a rigorous climb up a 180m (600-ft.) forested slope.
Wartburg Castle was founded by Duke Ludwig of Thuringia in 1067 AD. It belonged to the landgraves of Thuringia and once hosted the medieval Minnesinger poets, immortalized by Wagner in Tannhäuser.
Most famously, the Wartburg is where Martin Luther hid out as "Knight George" upon his return from the Diet of Worms in 1521. Here he completed his translation of the Bible. During his stay here, he said he "fought the Devil with ink" and is said to have experienced dark periods of depression.
In 1777, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe spent five weeks in the Wartburg Castle translating the Bible into German. Goethe once said, "The Germans weren't a people until Luther."
In 1817, the Wartburg was the rallying site of the Burschenschaften, students who protested the continued division of Germany into a host of tinpot principalities. More recently, Adolf Hitler engaged in a battle with local authorities to take down Wartburg Castle's cross and replace it with a swastika. Hitler was a big fan of the Wartburg, declaring it "the most German of German castles."
Today, the castle is a regional museum. Wartburg Castle was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999 for its association with Luther and for its role as "a powerful symbol of German integration and unity."