The Castle Road, or Burgenstraße, is a theme route in southern Germany (in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg) and a small portion in the Czech Republic, between Mannheim and Prague.
It was established in 1954. In 1994 it was possible to extend it to Prague. It leads through the Neckar valley, the Hohenlohe Plateau, the Franconian Heights, Franconian Switzerland, the Fichtelgebirge and the Kaiserwald (Slavkovský les). The Castle Road has a length of over 1,000 km (600 mi).
The Castle Road consists of a series of small, winding back roads with easy to follow signs. Along the way, you pass several rivers and drive through spectacular landscape. There is never a bad time to take the castle road. During the summer (late May to September) and around Christmas are high season. But throughout the year the castles put on different events from period costume performances to music festivals to ghost tours. Check the schedule for special events and partake in the regular guided tours and open grounds. Experience medieval times belly first by dining at some castles’ cafe and restaurants as well as occasional banquets.
Overflowing with sagas, myths, fairy tales and legends, the Castle Route is already over 60 years old and is one of Germany’s most tradition-steeped scenic routes. The route plunges visitors straight into the Middle Ages, leading them from one castle to the next, from pinnacle to pinnacle – and always on the trail of emperors, kings and princes, knights, count palatines and romance.
Over 70 castles, fairy-tale palaces and stately homes line the Castle Road like a string of pearls, impressive monuments to the past. At the same time, medieval towns, abbeys, sacred and secular architecture from a huge variety of eras, historic sites and innumerable cultural treasures ensure that any trip on the Castle Road is a vivid experience. Just as diverse as the region’s history is its breathtakingly beautiful countryside.
An abundance of medieval masterpieces await you on the Castle Road. This route is virtually unsurpassed in terms of architecture and hospitality. Visitors can watch period costume performances at festivals amongst authentic surroundings, visit medieval markets and secluded castle courtyards, go on ghost tours, dine at medieval banquets or sample historical recipes within ancient castle walls.
Regardless of whether you decide to travel by car, bus or bike, make sure you set aside a little time to really get to know the varied faces of the Castle Road. The Castle Road also has plenty of activities for kids. The Castle Road Association (Verein Burgenstraße) will also be all too happy to help you plan your journey along the road.
The Castle Road tells tales of war-torn times, mighty battles and cultural heydays. Some of Bavaria’s most impressive fortresses can be found between Rothenburg ob der Tauber and Bayreuth. Travel along the Castle Route in comfort in your own car or motorhome. Or sail along on your bicycle – the Castle Route cycle trail runs parallel to the road.
You may choose to start your voyage of discovery at the Kaiserburg in Nuremberg, whose existence was first documented in 1050. This imposing palace complex was first erected by the Staufer dynasty, and has been a hallmark of the city ever since. From the Sinwell tower, the highest point of the castle, you can enjoy a fabulous view across the old town district of Nuremberg. In the excellent permanent exhibition you can learn about the eventful and often war-torn history of the castle through valuable loaned items and displays.
The highlights of the German Castle Road are:
- Castle of Heidelberg: Perched above the bustling student city of Heidelberg, the picturesque ruins are a major attraction.
- Bamberg: With a UNESCO old quarter and robust beer scene, the castle is just of the attractions of the city.
- Castle Hotel Colmberg: Stay in a 1000-year-old castle and enjoy sweeping views of the Franconian countryside
- Rothenburg ob der Tauber: The best-preserved medieval town in Germany. Walk the ramparts and visit the terrifying torture museum.
- Castle of Neuenstein: Home to the aristocratic line of Hohenlohe-Neuenstein, the site has a museum and beautifully decorated rooms like is its original medieval kitchen. In the summer, there is a concert series on the premise.
- Imperial Castle of Nuremberg: The castle and its impressive city walls are considered one of Europe’s most formidable medieval fortifications. The town also features the best Christmas market in Germany.
- New and Old Palace of Bayreuth: Margrave Georg Wilhelm’s wife Wilhelmine is responsible for the stunning Japanese Cabinet and the Chinese Mirror Cabinet. Outside, visitors can explore the court gardens. The town is also famous for its annual Richard Wagner Festival.
- Veste Coburg Citadel – This castle from 1056 was once the refuge of Martin Luther took refuge and today showcases Luther room, bear enclosures (yes, really) and museum.