Strolling through magnificent halls like a king, waving graciously from the tower like a princess, defending the castle walls like a knight: In Hessen's castles and palaces, time seems to have stood still. Here you can gain insights into the lives of the rulers and servants of yesteryear. We have selected six particularly impressive buildings with unique stories for you.
Majestically rises in Kassel the Lion Castle above the Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe. The stately building complex, built around an inner courtyard, is reminiscent of a medieval knight's castle. In reality, it is much younger and was only built at the end of the 18th century. It was built by Landgrave Wilhelm IX of Hesse-Kassel, who wanted the castle to be a pleasure palace for himself and his mistress. Inside you can admire the princely (and princely furnished) living quarters including historical furniture, paintings, glasses and bronzes. The large collection of weapons testifies to the passion for collecting of Landgrave and later Elector Wilhelm I. His mausoleum is located in the castle chapel. By the way, the castle got its name because of the two lion sculptures in the courtyard.
Not far from the Löwenburg stands another castle of the Elector. Wilhelmshöhe Palace was built from 1786 to 1798 in the style of classicism. From the semicircular building you have a wonderful view of the Hercules Monument. Today, the castle is internationally known for its museum, which is located in the central part of the building. It displays a collection of antique objects and graphic works. The painting gallery with works by Old Masters such as Rembrandt, Rubens and Dürer is also a real highlight. In the museum in the Weissenstein wing, on the other hand, you can walk through the only rooms of the landgraves that have been preserved in their original state.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Kassel: Plan arrival.
The late medieval fortress rises high above the Werra Valley on a hill near Witzenhausen and is surrounded by dense forests - straight out of the Brothers Grimm's storybook! Famous painters and poets were inspired by the romantic setting, including Goethe, who was a guest at the castle in 1801. It was built between 1461 and 1478 by Sittich von Berlepsch and his sons on the foundation walls of an earlier castle complex from the 14th century. The castle is thus already in the 19th generation of family ownership.
The park belonging to the castle dates back to the 18th century and is laid out in the style of an English landscape garden. Narrow paths meander between small lakes and groves; colorful flowerbeds frame wide meadows. Here you can stroll in peace and enjoy nature. Are you interested in the interiors of the castle? Then take part in one of the guided tours. There are also small exhibitions with objects from the Berlepsch family. The castle is also an ideal starting point for hikes in and around the Werra Valley. The Werra-Burgen-Steig Hessen, a certified long-distance hiking trail that runs along the Werra from Hannoversch-Münden to Tannenburg, passes directly by Berlepsch Castle.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Witzenhausen: Plan arrival.
From its location on the top of a basalt cone Braunfels Castle greets its visitors from afar. The castle near Braunfels in the Lahn-Dill district of central Hesse has been owned by the Counts of Solms for almost 800 years. Braunfels itself was first mentioned in a document on January 3, 1246, as "castellum brunenvelz". Members of the Count von Oppersdorff zu Solms-Braunfels family still live here today. The largest part of the castle now serves as a museum. It displays furniture and the art-historical collections of the princely family of Solms, inventory from the former Altenberg monastery, plus collections of weapons and art, coins, medals, clothing and a collection of Bohemian glass. Also exciting are the guided tours that take place several times a day. Here you can learn interesting facts about the eventful development from the castle to the chateau and the history of the princely family, which established connections with all of Europe and America.
Another highlight on the castle grounds is the three-nave Gothic church. Count Otto II had it built at the end of the 15th century. The number 1501 carved in the keystone of the entrance gate suggests that the church was consecrated in that year. In the side aisles of the church you can see the now colorfully painted tombstones of the princely family. The historical paintings on the walls and in the vault also deserve attention. Some of them date back to the 16th century.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Braunfels: Plan arrival.
The at the foot of the Vogelsberg and situated on the edge of the picturesque old town of Büdingen, the castle was built as a moated castle at the time of the Staufenkaiser Friedrich Barbarossa. The princes of Ysenburg and Büdingen have lived here since 1258. You can discover many testimonies of past times here, for example the frescoes in the Gothic chapel or all kinds of medieval exhibits that give a nice idea of court life. One of the largest halls in Büdingen Castle is the 200-square-meter Wachtbausaal with cross vaulting and late Gothic columns. An atmospheric setting for the exhibitions, concerts and festivities that are held here. The mighty keep from the 13th century is also a real eye-catcher. It is about 35 meters high and contains five vaults, one above the other. At that time, the upper ones were only accessible via a ladder.
Numerous legends entwine around the castle. Thus, two stone figures guarding one of the gates are said to change places at night. However, it is said that the phenomenon can be observed only by people who have never lied in their lives! Don't you feel like checking out the legend? It is quite easy, because in the medieval walls you can even spend the night. Lovingly furnished hotel rooms have been set up in the outer castle courtyard, in the former servants' apartments and in the brewery located in the adjacent castle park. For more information here.
By train comfortably and without traffic jams to Büdingen: Plan arrival.
It is one of the most impressive castle complexes in southern Hesse and the Odenwald: Breuberg Castle rises high above the town of Breuberg. Originally built as a Staufer castle, it changed hands several times in the course of its long history. Very different noble families of various denominations were at home here. This colorful mix of inhabitants can still be seen today in the equally colorful mix of furnishing and architectural styles. Especially Gothic and Renaissance have left important traces. Today, the Breuberg Museum is located in the historic rooms. Here, old craftsmanship, contributions to folklore and objects from the castle's history are displayed. Since it is spread throughout the castle, you can only visit the museum on a guided tour.
Far beyond the borders of the Odenwald region the castle is known for its youth hostel and its colorful program for children and teenagers. Of course, in keeping with the ambience: knight games, night hikes, castle rallies and evenings around the campfire with stick bread are totally fun here. Climbing the 25-meter-high keep is also a highlight. It is the oldest building on the site, and once you have reached the top, you can expect a great view over the former dominion of Breuberg and as far as the Taunus and Spessart mountains. Even more info is available here.
By train and bus comfortably to Breuberg: Plan arrival.
The castle from the 13th century is one of the few hilltop castles in Hesse that has been preserved in its original state. It is idyllically situated between rolling hills and green forests in the Main-Kinzig district and gives its name to the Ronneburg hill country, which spreads widely between the Nidder and Kinzig rivers. Ronneburg Castle was built by the Staufer kings as a castle to secure the "Imperial Wetterau" and to protect the trade routes in the Maine plain and the Wetterau. It was first mentioned in 1231 as "Altar in castro Roneburg".
Especially worth seeing on the castle grounds are the 96-meter-deep well complete with treadwheel, the 32-meter-high keep and the historic castle kitchen. In many rooms you can still revel in paintings from the 16th century. The former farm buildings are still very much alive today: In one there is a restaurant, in another a falconry. In the rooms of the core castle - today a museum - you can get an idea of life in a medieval castle. And in separate seminars you can learn how to build bows, fight with swords and cook medieval food! Even more info is available here.
By train and bus comfortably to Ronneburg Castle: Plan arrival.
Cover photo: Braunfels Castle rises mystically in front of the setting sun © Oliver Stiehler
Hiking through quiet low mountain ranges, old beech forests or orchards, paddling on the Lahn, looking at the most beautiful medieval half-timbered houses and soaking up the atmosphere of historic spas - Hessen makes romantic souls happy all around. But gourmets also get their money's worth on wine hikes, in Hessian butcher shops and with "Handkäs mit Musik", a pickled cheese. Reasons for a Vacation in Hesse there are enough!
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