Glamorous palaces, mighty castles and delightful gardens: The Cultural Heart of Germany has around 1,000 palaces, castles and fortresses, each one with a story to tell. Get started with our selection of the top ten.
Albrechtsburg Castle, Meissen
Germany’s oldest residential castle and a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. Various historical exhibitions inside highlight the history of the place and its inhabitants and tell the story of Europe’s first porcelain manufactory that was established here in 1710.
Colditz Castle, Colditz
The mighty Renaissance castle complex became famous as Oflag IV-C, a prisoner-of-war camp during World War II. Visitors can dive into history and visit the castle’s escape museum telling the story of the breakout attempts of Allied officers, immortalised in the UK in books and films.
Elisabethenburg Castle, Meiningen
The large early baroque castle was a residence of the Saxe-Meiningen dukes and birthplace of the British Queen Adelaide. The castle museum showcases the ducal family’s history and their links with great artists and musicians, such as or Brahms or Liszt. Some wonderfully glamorous baroque, classicist and 19th century interiors to marvel at!
Friedenstein Palace and Park, Gotha
The former residence of the Dukes of Saxe-Gotha is Germany’s largest early baroque complex and closely related to the British royal family. It holds various museums and is, together with the Ducal Museum that founded by Prince Albert’s brother Ernest, part of Gotha’s "Baroque Universe". The late 16th century Ekhof Theatre, still with its original stage machinery, is an absolute gem!
Schloss Moritzburg Castle, Moritzburg
Charming Schloss Moritzburg is one of Europe’s most delightful baroque palaces. The former hunting lodge and pleasure palace of Augustus the Strong is situated on an island in the middle of a lake and includes “Little Pheasant Castle”, an enchanting summer residence in chinoiserie style.
Königstein Fortress, Königstein
Mighty Königstein is a hilltop fortress in Saxon Switzerland, beautifully located on the rock tableau of a table mountain. The impressive complex of more than 50 buildings has never been conquered and today offers some of the best views across the Elbe Sandstone Mountains.
Pillnitz Palace and Park, Pillnitz
Two of the three palaces that make up the charming Pillnitz Palace and Park ensemble are built in a mix of baroque and chinoiserie style. The summer residence is directly located on the banks of the river Elbe just outside Dresden – get there by boat and enjoy the scenery.
Prince Pückler Park, Bad Muskau
Laid out in the English style, this early 19th century romantic landscape garden is a beautiful work of art and was created by Prince Pückler, a travel writer and garden lover. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 2004, it is the largest and one of the most famous English gardens in Central Europe.
Wartburg Castle, Eisenach
As the quintessential German castle, the Wartburg is as closely linked with pivotal events in German history as no other. The mighty structure towering above Eisenach is a UNESCO World Heritage site and provides stunning views of the surrounding Thuringian forest. Take a tour and be surprised by the many stories this ancient castle has to tell!
Weimar’s Palaces and Gardens
Weimar’s ducal palaces and gardens go mainly back to the town’s so-called “Golden Age” in the 18th and 19th century and are part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage complex “Classical Weimar”. Among the parks and gardens, the romantic Ilm Park is a particular delight. Don’t miss Goethe’s garden house!