About an hour south of Stuttgart sits a magnificent example of a 19th century fortification and home to Prussian royalty, the Hohenzollern castle. Privately owned, it has had a long and varied past. Many times the castle has been reduced to ruins or substantially damaged. However, towards the end of the 19th century Prince Louis Ferdinand decided to rebuild and renovate the castle restoring it to its former glory. Later generations filled it with art and artifacts, building a significant collection most of which can still be seen today, and that makes it a place that Jim and I highly recommend you visit!
Driving to Hohenzollern, the first thing we have to do is park the car. We dropped a few Euros into the parking meter, grabbed our ticket and went to buy our tickets for the shuttle. It’s a decent hike to the castle, all uphill as all fortifications should be to keep their inhabitants safe. We like to take the shuttle up, and we’re more apt to walk down depending on how tired we are. Entering the castle, we encountered a couple of men who were dressed up as old guards. After a few obligatory photos of them, we continued on to a very cool part of the castle. For the first part of the fortifications’ defenses, you walk up through the narrow and dark cobblestone passageway, with a few windows and arrow slits. As it winds up and around to the entrance of the drawbridge, you can imagine the feeling of doom an invader might experience just waiting for that boiling oil or rock to come hurling at you. Still alive, we made it to the drawbridge which was down letting us into the castle grounds proper.
Without even looking at the castle, the first thing we notice is the beautiful views and small picturesque guardhouse out on a promontory of the wall. After taking it all in, we are finally ready to enter the interior of the castle. The courtyard is always busy with attractions; they usually have some type of vendor to spend your money and get a taste of life during medieval times. When we were there, there was a bird man who owned a flock of predatory birds, including falcons and owls. We were so tempted to hold one, but the line was long. The kids that were there really enjoyed the birds, so if you take children be prepared!
The first thing we did was head to the basement where there is a weapons museum. We love that kind of thing and enjoyed seeing the various weapons both useful and ceremonial. Anyone interested in military history definitely would want to take a look.
From the museum, we climbed up to the main part of the castle, and to save wear and tear on the floors, we were all given a rough, woolen slipper to wear over our shoes. I’m sure the maintenance person loves that all the visitors help him polish the wooden floor. The tour of the castle didn’t take that long, but we did see the traditional hunting room, the windows and murals that depict the family trees, and enjoyed everything from the parade of family portraits, to the musty but gorgeous furniture, and just imagining what life would be like living as a noble in a luxurious castle.
One of the things we enjoyed the most about Hohenzollern Castle is that it is small. It had everything you want in a castle: great guards, stunning views, a walk through the past, a great little museum, and some extra activities in the courtyard.
Opening Times and Costs: The castle is open almost everyday, but you should always check their website before you go. The cost is 7 Euros for adults and 5 Euros for children. I would not recommend taking a stroller. Between the cobblestones, stairs, and gravel, you’ll be fighting with it the entire time. However, I do think this is the perfect castle trip for children. It’s small enough that there isn’t time to get bored.
How to get there:
By car: Driving to the castle is super easy, and as a bonus there are some great views of the castle from the road. From Stuttgart it takes just about one hour heading south on the B27, from Frankfurt about 3 hours, from Grafenwöhr about 4 1/2 hours.
Other things to do in the area:
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