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Almost three years ago we moved to Germany with my husband’s job. As most know, castles are a huge “attraction” in Europe and we wanted to see as many as we could. Something that we learned quickly upon visiting castles, not all are intact…some are just ruins. None the less, they’re cool! Also, the word burg, means castle in German, so when you read that word as you complete this post, know I’m not misspelling an English word.
Our first home in Germany was conveniently located just 10 minutes from some awesome castle ruins. We lived in a vast farm area that was beautiful with constant rolling hills. The scenery was breathtaking as we would drive down the autobahn (yes people drive REALLY fast here) on our way home. It never got old to approach the top of one certain hill and, BAM, a castle. It is amazing to drive home, or to another city or country and see various castles off in the distance.
This is the Kusel Castle. Kusel was the largest city closest to us, and it wasn’t large at all by American standards. It had everything someone would need to live, but when I think of “big cities” I think of Nashville or Kansas City, and this was nowhere near half of that.
We visited this castle many, many times during the year that we lived in our little village. I also photographed many families in and around this castle. It is a favorite spot for photography due to the amazing scenery. One thing we loved was the restaurant within the castle grounds. They had amazing gelato…which you also find EVERYWHERE in Europe.
The next castle we visited was the Vianden castle in Luxemburg. Luxemburg is a tiny little country very close to Germany, which meant we got to make this visit a day trip. The castle was amazing to tour, and thanks to the convincing of my children and husband we rode in a lift chair up a steep mountain to view it from above. While I appreciate the photos that I obtained, I was NOT ok on the ride up. Those little chairs swayed way too easily for me and I was a nervous wreck. Little did I know I would be riding hundreds of those scary things while we live in Europe.
Heidelburg castle was a trip to remember…and I don’t mean that in a good way. Ha! Rain, winter, no parking, and crankiness compiled into a whirlwind day to say the least. Despite the chaos that was that day, the castle was awesome! Not only is the castle massive, it also holds the world’s largest wine barrel dating back to the 18th century. Also, funny story…we found what we thought was the largest wine barrel and thought it was “the” one. Nope! When we turned the corner and saw the real one, our jaws dropped. We were so very wrong.
One castle that EVERYONE knows about is Burg Eltz. It’s a massive tourist destination and many people want photos in front of it. The trek to get to this castle is pretty intense. There are buses that drop you off “at the door” but what fun is that? Ha! I’m so glad our kids developed hiking legs quickly after we moved to Germany, because we walk A LOT! Sadly, I wasn’t allowed to take photographs inside the castle (insert sad face), but the outside is pretty awesome in its own right. There is a favorite view for most people, but I found another view to be my favorite. What do you think?
Next on the list, the Cochem Castle. Cochem is a place I could move to in a heartbeat! It is right on the Mosel river, constant wine vineyards, quaint homes, and lovely people. This town stole my heart quickly. Some of the love I found from it could’ve been the fact that it was several months after the major lockdown in Germany so the freedom felt SO nice! The Cochem castle was such a fun tour. We had a guide, which always helps with figuring out exactly what you’re seeing. One of our favorites was the drunken keyhole…which is built this way to ensure people could put the key into the slot late at night after MANY drinks.
After we moved to Bavaria, an entire new area of travel opened up to us. It’s crazy to say this, but we drove into Prague after just 3 hours. It’s still mind-blowing to me how quickly we can change countries via car in Europe. One thing about Prague I’ll never forget was our glass blowing class…it was AMAZING! I won’t go into detail, but here are a few pictures of that experience. We loved every second of that day. Another thing about Prague, similar to Paris…SO…MUCH…WALKING! Prague is very spread out, and we had very tired feet and very tired children. In Prague, the “castle” wasn’t just one structure, it was castle grounds that included a cathedral, a museum, as well as living quarters. It was pretty cool! Also, it sits high on a hill and overlooks the city.
Before I get to the best one, I must include Hoenschwagu. This castle is the “parent castle” of the next one on the list. Yes, you read that correctly. King Ludwig’s parents lived in Hoenschwagu and he had Neuschwanstein built for himself. Please note the incredible size difference in the two. A very memorable part of this castle was the telescope in Ludwig’s bedroom that he placed at his window to observe his people building his castle. (say what?)
I’ve saved my favorite for last…Neuschwanstein. This castle was at the top of my must-see list as soon as we knew Germany would become our home. If you haven’t read about this castle, google it. This castle was the inspiration for Cinderella’s castle and it’s PHENOMINAL! It took us way too long to be able to visit, but I knew I wanted to go in the fall and man did it pay off! Just look at those colors. Fall in Bavaria is a sight to behold. We weren’t able to obtain tickets to tour the castle, but we didn’t care…the hiking that we did around the grounds made the trip worth it. It also needs to be noted they don’t allow photography inside the castle…bummer.
I hope that you enjoyed a little taste of some of our favorite castles here in Europe. I’m hoping we’ll see a few more before we move again!