Top Ten Must-See German Palaces

Posted: 18th April 2020

With over 25,000 castles in Germany, it can be difficult to know which ones to visit, or which area of Germany to base your trip.

And with so many castles, there is such a vast range of architectural styles and structures. For example, many medieval castles were built purely for protection and defence, with a more functional and utilitarian demeanour than some of the later regal residences which were more palatial and decorative.

If your preferences are for the more refined medieval castles or renaissance dwellings, here are the Top 10 Must-See Palaces in Germany to help you plan your next trip.

1 - Neuschwanstein Castle

There’s a reason Neuschwanstein Castle is the most photographed and most visited tourist attraction in Germany - it is literally the stuff of fairy tales.

This stunning example of Romanesque Revival architecture inspired the castles in Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, as well as the real-life reproductions in the various Disney resorts around the world.

Commissioned in 1868, unlike many German castles, Neuschwanstein Castle was not built for defence but as a home and retreat for King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Since it opened to the public in 1886, a staggering 61 million people have visited this magical German palace.

2 - Hohenzollern Castle

Burg Hohenzollern

Lukas Riebling / CC BY-SA

Presiding regally over Mount Hohenzollern, the castle of today is the third to be built on this site, with the previous two being destroyed or demolished after the turbulence of the medieval period.

The current 19th-century castle was built as a family memorial by King Frederick William IV of Prussia, member of the Royal House of Hohenzollern who ruled over the region for centuries, taking their name from the original 11th-century castle.

This imposing neo-Gothic building is still privately owned, and remains the ancestral seat of the Prussian Royal House and the Hohenzollern Princesses. A favourite of castle lovers far and wide, Hohenzollern is one of Germany's unmissable fairy-tale castles, attracting over 350,000 visitors a year.

3 - Nordkirchen Castle

The superb Schloss Nordkirchen is known as The Versailles of North Rhine-Westfalia - with good reason. This 18th-century Baroque masterpiece is a stunning example of a Wasserburgen - a moated castle.

Nordkirchen Castle is vast and impressive - surrounded on all sides by a spectacular moat, with an enchanting mix of French influences, English landscaping and topiary, as well as uniquely German elements.

Although the castle is almost 300 years old, it has been exquisitely maintained and restored. A true jewel in Germany's crown, Schloss Nordkirchen makes for an unforgettable palace experience.

4 - Charlottenburg Palace

Charlottenburg Palace

Carmelo Bayarcal / CC BY-SA

Charlottenburg, named after the Queen consort of Prussia, Sophia Charlotte of Hanover, is home to one of Germany's most beautiful palaces.

The baroque Schloss Charlottenburg dates back to the 17th century, with exquisite interiors and grounds befitting a royal summer residence. Although the building was badly damaged during the Second World War, it has been faithfully restored and today resembles its former glory days as the largest and most important residence of the Hohenzollern dynasty.

With a garden park modelled after Versailles, and home to a permanent exhibition, The Prussian Royal House, that presents the history and artefacts of the House of Hohenzollern, Charlottenburg Palace is undoubtedly a must-see for palace lovers.

5 - Linderhof Palace

Although this Bavarian beauty is the smallest of King Ludwig II's palatial projects, it was the only one that the tragic king lived to see completed.

After Ludwig II inherited the property in 1864, he began extending the building, only to demolish it completely and then rebuild the grand structure of today. The influence of Versailles is again evident in both the architecture and interiors, though there are also echoes of the Rococo styles of Louis XV, with the small palace being modelled on his Petit Trianon in the grounds of Versailles.

With its regal pavilions and formal gardens, a chapel and fountain, even a Venus grotto, the beautiful Linderhof Palace is an architectural gem and one of Germany's finest palaces.

6 - Mannheim Palace

If it's scale and grandeur that you're looking for in a palace, Mannheim does not disappoint.

Comprising over half a million square feet, this 18th-century baroque Palace is not only one of the largest palaces in Germany, but also worldwide.

Though its scale was intended to rival Versailles, it's style and vibe are distinctly German. Historically, the palace was a princely residence, as well as the home of the glamourous Stéphanie de Beauharnais, the Grand Duchess consort of Baden.

Today Mannheim Palace is largely the home of the University of Mannheim, though there is also a museum that reveals the palace's glory days, including the spectacular Library Cabinet of Electress Elisabeth Auguste von der Pfalz, which has remained untouched for centuries.

7 - Munich Residenz

Another of Germany's enormous palaces, this former royal palace is a treat for history lovers.

The current building is the work of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who extended and updated the old palace in the early 19th century. Though the Residenz was heavily damaged during the Second World War, an extensive programme of restoration was completed in recent years.

With over a hundred rooms on display, as well as 10 beautiful courtyards, Munich Residenz is a vast and fascinating blend of history, architecture and palace living over the centuries. The restored palace is today one of Germany's finest, and a perennial favourite of locals and tourists alike.

8 - Würzburg Residence

Wurzburg_Residence_gardens

Sculpture:Johann Peter Wagner[1]Photo: Daderot / Public domain

In 1981, the majestic Würzburg Residence was granted status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally constructed for the Prince-Bishops of Würzburg, this uniquely impressive palace is a mix of Baroque, Rococo and Neoclassical styles - another intriguing blend of German royal residence and the inevitable French influences of the 18th century.

Like a number of German palaces, it sustained damage during World War II but has been beautifully restored in the decades since. With its breathtaking facade, stunning interiors and the world's biggest ceiling fresco, Würzburg Residence is a fascinating insight into German history over the last three centuries.

9 - Sanssouci

Sanssouci is French for without worry - a fitting moniker for this elegant royal palace, which was built as a summer sanctuary for Frederick The Great, King of Prussia.

Located beside vineyard terraces, this 18th-century retreat was a favourite of the king's, the place he referred to as his Prussian Arcadia - so much so that he chose to be buried in a nearby crypt.

With the style and grandeur befitting a Rococo royal residence, Sanssouci and its magnificent surrounding park are also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

10 - Schwerin Palace

Over a thousand years ago, Schweriner Schloss was a Slavic fortress castle. Destruction and development followed over the centuries, and the castle was transformed along more palatial lines during the Renaissance period, with further additions during the 19th century, influenced heavily by the Chateau de Chambord.

Located on an island in the city's main lake, Lake Schwerin, the palace was home to generations of the Dukes and Grand Dukes of Mecklenburg.

Today Schwerin Palace continues its legacy as a seat of governance, being home to the local state parliament. The gardens and museum are open to the public and this fabulous fairy-tale island castle on the lake is one of German's most magical palace attractions.

These spectacular schlosses and burgs are just a small selection of the splendour, magnificence and history that German castles have to offer.

However this Top Ten of Must-See Palaces features some of Germany's largest and most famous palaces, as well as some of the most beautiful, luxurious and historic buildings in the country, if not the world.

If these famous German castles have piqued your interest in acquiring your own prestigious Noble Title get in touch using the enquiry form in the sidebar or you can contact our Geneva office directly between 10.00-19.00, Monday to Friday on +41 225 181 360.