While the entire country is dotted with castles and palaces, if you want to experience German royalty at its true glory, you can’t do better than a trip to Bavaria. Among a few hundred stunning castles in the state, we have narrowed down seven that truly stand out, either because of their significant history or picture-book beauty, or both.
The star attraction, without a doubt, is Neuschwanstein Castle – the epitome of all of our Disney-inspired childhood fantasies. Next in line is the heavily-ornate Hohenschwangau Castle, posing an achingly pretty sight in the midst of thick foliage. The Herrenchiemsee Castle sitting pretty on a lake island, the elegant baroque Linderhof Castle, the historic Nuremberg Castle and Nymphenburg Palace – the former summer residence of Bavarian royals are the other worthy contenders on our list. Burghausen Castle, the biggest castle in the world and a majestic sight, is also worth special mention.
Neuschwanstein Castle, often referred to as the most beautiful castle in the world, is practically dripping with fairy tale romance. Indeed, the castle, with its soaring turrets and dark dungeons, perched on craggy rocks against the backdrop of the majestic Bavarian Alps, hardly seems real. As you step inside, be prepared to be bowled over by the beautiful decor including lavish original furniture and extravagant ornamentation. From the pedestrian bridge Marienbrücke, you can take a perfect shot of Neuschwanstein Castle in all its glory.
Hohenschwangau Castle is located in the vicinity of Neuschwanstein Castle, and is sadly a trifle overshadowed by its super-glamorous neighbor. However, Hohenschwangau Castle is certainly worth a visit in its own right. The undeniably beautiful sight of the castle from Marienbrücke, nestled deep in lush green valleys, is all the inspiration you need to sign up for a guided tour. Taking in the ornate salons and ballrooms, and especially the scenes depicting Lohengrin, the Knight of the Swan, will make you glad that you visited.
It is believed that King Ludwig II was so enamored with the Versailles Palace in France that he wanted to replicate it in his homeland. Herrenchiemsee Castle is the product of his wish. The most remarkable aspect of the castle is its location – it proudly stands on an island in the mirror waters of Lake Chiemsee. But that’s only a part of its splendor – nothing can prepare you for the unapologetic lavishness of the castle interiors, consisting of dazzling golden decor, a stunning porcelain collection and priceless artwork. And oh, you certainly won’t want to miss the sprawling gardens around the castle.
After Neuschwanstein and Herrenchiemsee, Linderhof is the third fantastical creation of eccentric King Ludwig II. The architecture is heavily influenced by ornate French castles of the 19th century, which has earned it the name of Little Versailles. The building also bears clear traces of the king’s love for the Baroque style of architecture. A guided tour of the palace gives travelers a chance to gape at the Rococo interior done up with opulent furniture, furnishings and embellishments. Make sure you top off your visit with a tour of the stylized gardens around the palace, dotted with beautiful fountains and symmetric lawns.
Nymphenburg Palace is a must-see during a trip to the fascinating city of Munich. This sprawling Baroque palace was originally built as a summer residence of the Bavarian Electors and still preserves much of its original facade, furniture and furnishing. Parts of the palace were redesigned in Rococo and Neoclassical style in later centuries, leading to a unique mishmash of architectural styles under one roof. On a guided tour of the palace, travelers get to visit grandiose rooms, hallways, kitchen, bedchambers, bathrooms and more. The 200-hectare (490-acre) palace gardens, split by a canal and dotted with sculptures, add to the beauty of the palace.
What Nuremberg Castle lacks in opulence, it makes up in history. This massive 12th-century castle looms over the old town of Nuremberg, as a memento of the long history of the Holy Roman Empire and reminds travelers of the significance of the city in the Middle Ages. The most striking aspect of this castle is the Romanesque double chapel, one on top of the other, the likes of which are rarely seen, if at all. The deep wells and sweeping courtyards are also worth exploring – the icing on the cake though, is the view of the city from the castle tower.
As per the Guinness Book of World Records, the 1,051.02 meters (3,448 feet and 2 inches)-long Burhghausen Castle is the largest castle in the world. But it has lots more going for it than its sheer size – for starters, studies have shown that this castle existed, albeit in a different form, since the Bronze Age. When you walk the five courtyards and the beautiful Art Nouveau interior, and explore the intriguing moats, portcullises, and drawbridges, remember you are tracing the footsteps of centuries of royals and dukes. This is also one of the rare castles in the world that has preserved its medieval fortifications in an almost original and complete form.
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