The castles of Germany are probably “The attraction” of the country: Everyone wants to see the fairy tale castle of Neuschwanstein that Walt Disney copied, or the romantic ruins of Heidelberg castle described in the German song!
But there are many more castles in Germany; there are even a few “roads of the castles” (Burgenstrassen) that you can follow either by bike, by boat or by car. There is a well known route along the Mosel River, close by Trier, and another one called “Die Burgenstrasse” that follows part of the Rhine, the Neckar and the Danube, all the way from Mannheim to Prague!
Many of these castles were built or entirely renovated in the 18th and 19th centuries and so have the Romantic style of that period (such as Neuschwanstein!). But you will also find some originals that are much older, dating from the Middle Ages of the 11th to 14th centuries. Some are only ruins, a few remain inhabited by aristocratic families, while others still have been transformed into hotels and restaurants.
The four Castles of Neckarsteinach
Several good examples of these older castles are found in Neckarsteinach, about 15 km up-river from Heidelberg along the Neckar. There, you will find not one, not two, but four fortress-castles! All of these castles were built between 1100 and 1300 AD, and two of them are still inhabited by the Lord of Steinach’s descendants.
The oldest one in the village of Neckarsteinach is probably the “Hinterburg” (translated as: the Castle Behind), built around 1100 AD. This castle, or fortress built on a “mote”, saw many modifications to its original plan throughout the years. It ended up with 3 concentric curtain walls, as well as the castle building itself.
The second castle built in Neckarsteinach, after Hinterburg, is one of the two presently inhabited castles and is called “Mittelburg” (Castle in the Middle), an apt name as it is situated between the Hinterburg and the other inhabited castle named “Vorburg” (Front Castle).
Then there is “Schadeck”, also known as the “Schwalbennest”, meaning the swallow’s nest, because of its location high on the hills overlooking the valley and the village below. This castle is more recent, dated 1230.
What is so interesting about these castles of Germany, apart from the fact that there are four of them within less than a kilometer of each other, is that at least two of them were built by Bligger II. Who’s that, you ask? It is believed that Bligger II wrote the well known German classic “Nibelungenliedes,” used by Tolkien and countless other authors in their own stories. Hitler was also a fan of these songs, extolling the exploits of a true German Hero.
Other castles of Germany that come to mind are Schwetzingen, for its magnificent gardens mainly, the “Kurfürstliches Schloss” of Trier, one of the most beautiful rococo style castles in the world, Bürg Hornberg along the Neckar, Hirschhorn Castle-Hotel also up river from Heidelberg and where you can stay for a few days, Marburg castle, Schwerin castle, the imposing Eltz burg overlooking the Mosel and many many more!