Built in 1471 AD in the far east of the country close to the city of Dresden is the large Late Gothic castle of Albrechtsburg, dominating the town of Meissen. Standing on a hill above the Elbe River, it was the first castle built solely as a residence and not a military fortress.
First built in the 12th century in the far south west of the country, south of the city of Stuttgart is Sigmaringen Castle, the former seat of the princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen. Situated on a free standing rock above the Danube River in the Upper Danube Nature Park, the sheer cliffs made it a natural site for a well protected medieval castle. After a serious fire in 1893 much of the castle was re-built in a Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance style, only the towers of the previous medieval fortress remaining.
12. Schloss Sigmaringen
Built in 1117 AD to the west of the city of Frankfurt is the fortress simply known as, Marksburg. Of the forty hilltop fortresses between Bingen Am Rhein and Koblenz, the Marksburg with its iconic butter church tower and classic medieval castle shape was the only one to avoid destruction, though it was heavily damaged during World War II. Today it finds itself one of the principle landmarks of the Rhine Gorge UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Built in 1858 in the northern centre of the country, just south of the city of Hanover in Lower Saxony is the Gothic Revival Marienburg Castle. Constructed on the orders of King George V of Hanover for his wife Marie of Saxe-Altenburg it wasn't long before it was annexed by Prussia in 1867. Left uninhabited for 80 years the castle was well preserved, remaining to this day one of the largest and most quintessential Gothic castles in the country.
10. Schloss Marienburg
First built in the 12th century, in the west of the country between the city of Frankfurt and the Belgian border is the pretty town of Cochem, overlooked by Cochem Castle. Declared an imperial castle by King Conrad III, it survived until 1688 AD when French King Louis XIV's troops destroyed it following the Nine Years War. For nearly 200 years it lay in ruin until a wealthy Berlin businessman reconstructed the Romanesque castle into the Gothic Revival styled castle that stands there today.
9. Reichsburg Cochem
First constructed in the 13th century in the south west of the country between the cities of Stuttgart and Frankfurt are the ruins of the Gothic and Romanesque Heidelberg Castle. In 1537 AD a lightning bolt caused a fire that destroyed the upper parts of the castle. Through the following centuries it was repaired and expanded, only for it to then be ravaged by wars, fires, and another lightning strike in 1764 AD. Today the structure dominates the view of the old town where it remains a major landmark of Heidelberg. Although mostly in ruin, Heidelberg Castle is regarded to be one of the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps.
8. Heidelberger Schloss
Constructed in 1067 AD in the almost exact centre of the country, within the state of Thuringia, is the Romanesque castle, Wartburg, considered the best preserved Romanesque building north of the Alps. Situated on a 410 metre (1,350 ft) high precipice overlooking the town of Eisenbach, this beautiful castle is said to have been the inspiration for Ludwig II when he decided to build the world famous Neuschwanstein Castle. Once home to St. Elisabeth Of Hungary and the site where Martin Luther translated the New Testament into German, Wartburg Castle is steeped in history. Built in the Middle Ages, the castle today still contains substantial original structures from the 12th through to the 15th century, whilst much of the interior reflects the tastes from the 19th and 20th century. The impressive Wartburg Castle is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
First built in the mid 13th century near to the city of Koblenz, west of the city of Frankfurt, was the medieval Stolzenfels Castle. Extended several times, occupied by the French and Swedish during the 30 Years War and finally destroyed in 1689 AD during the 9 Years War, the fortress sat in ruin until the early 19th century. Gifted to the Crown Prince Frederick William IV of Prussia, who was fascinated by the beauty, romance and history of the region, the castle was rebuilt as a palace in a Gothic Revival style. Today the Romantic styled Stolzenfels Palace Castle is part of the Upper Middle Rhine Valley UNESCO World Heritage Site.
6. Schloss Stolzenfels
In the far north of the country, east of the city of Hamburg is Schwerin Palace, an enormous Renaissance palatial castle that dominates the city of Schwerin. Once home to the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg, nicknamed 'Neuschwanstein Of The North', after Germany's most famous fairy tale castle, this 16th century mammoth palace with it's castle lake and beautifully kept gardens is regarded to be one of the most important works of Romantic Historicism in Europe.
5. Schweriner Schloss
Completed in 1842 in the south west of the country, directly south of the city of Stuttgart is the beautiful Gothic Revival styled Lichtenstein Castle. Overlooking the Echaz Valley at an elevation of 817 metres (2,680 ft) above sea level, this relatively modern castle was inspired by the novel of the same name, itself inspired by a medieval castle whose ruins lie a few hundred metres away. Despite it's relatively young age, it's fairy tale style has led many to regard it one of the most beautiful in all of Europe.
4. Schloss Lichtenstein
Built in the 12th century in the far west of the country, between the city of Frankfurt and the Belgian border, a stone's throw from Cochem, is the medieval Eltz Castle. Named after the Eltz family, that same family still occupy the castle an amazing thirty generations later. Situated on a rocky spur some 70 metres ( 230 ft) high, this Romanesque, Baroque stronghold is one of the continents picturesque fairy tale castles.
3. Burg Eltz
First constructed in the 11th century in the far south east of the country between Stuttgart and the Swiss city of Zurich is the fortress of Hohenzollern Castle. Built atop the 234 metre (768 ft) Mount Hohenzollern, the castle was completely destroyed in 1423 AD by the free imperial cities of Swabia. In 1461 AD a much stronger castle was built on the site, remaining intact through the Thirty Years War. Having fallen into disrepair in the 18th century, several dilapidated buildings were demolished. What stands on the site today, built around 1867 AD, is one of the most impressive castle structures in a country of incredible historic fortresses. Holding within it the Prussian historical artifacts, the Crown Of Wilhelm II and some personal effects of King Frederick The Great, the incredible Gothic Hohenzollern Castle is truly one of the great castles of Europe.
2. Burg Hohenzollern
Built in 1886 AD in the extreme south of the country, in Schwangau, close to the Austrian border, is probably the most well known castle structure on Earth, Neuschwanstein Castle, translated as 'New Swanstone Castle'. Highly stylish, impeccably decorated inside and out, it became the global symbol of the era of Romanticism, nominated in the twenty strong shortlist to be considered for one of the New 7 Wonders Of The World. The inspiration for Walt Disney's Sleeping Beauty Castle, this majestic 19th century Romanesque Revival styled fortress is without question one of the most picturesque pieces of architecture in Europe, if not the world.