Upon Berg Hohenzollern, an isolated outcropping of the Swabian Alps, sits the fairytale fortress, Burg Hohenzollern. The ancestral seat of the imperial House of Hohenzollern is located 31 miles south of Stuttgart in the state of Baden-Württemberg.
There have actually been a total of 3 castles to sit atop the hill. The first castle dates back to the 11th century – the first reference is from 1267. The details of this castle remain unknown. The free imperial cities of Swabia led a 10-month siege of the castle which unfortunately resulted in the complete destruction of the original castle in 1423.
The Hohenzollern family then built the second castle between the years of 1454 to 1461. It served as a retreat for the Catholic Swabian Hohenzollerns during the Thirty Years War. By the end of the 1700s, the castle had lost much of its strategic importance. As a result, the castle fell into disrepair and was eventually demolished.
Construction of the third and current castle began in 1846 by Crown Prince Frederick William IV of Prussia and finished in 1867. It served as more of a show of the wealth and power of the Prussian Royal Family. Oddly enough, no member of the royal family really established permanent residence here.
In September 1978, the castle sustained damage from an earthquake. Repairs were in progress until the mid-1990s. The castle today boasts an annual 350,000 visitors.
The royal family still privately owns Burg Hohenzollern today. George Friedrich, Prince of Prussia, has a 3/4 majority share of the castle while Karl Friedrich, Prince of Hohenzollern owns the other 1/4. Today, when a member of the family is staying in the castle, the Prussian flag is flown from the Watch Tower above the castle.
About the Castle
The castle offers guided tours in German lasting about 45 minutes. Tours start every 20-40 minutes. The castle offers tours in English on weekends and, in mid-March through October, on weekdays. The castle offers guide brochures in several languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese.
For groups of more than 20 people, reservations can be made for private tours. These tours can be requested in the standard German or in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, or Japanese.
The castle offers a “Royal Castle Stroll” on certain days. You can visit the castle rooms at your own pace. These are only offered on specific dates. You can choose to tour just the exterior castle complex or the more in-depth tour which also sees the royal chambers.
The drawbridge and Eagle Gate serve as the entrance to the castle. Today’s palace sits on the outline of the second castle. The grounds include the Protestant and Catholic chapels, the Count’s Hall, and four towers: Emperor’s Tower, Bishop’s Tower, Markgraf Tower, and Michael’s Tower.
Please note: The interior castle rooms are not heated. If you are touring the castle during the winter, please wear appropriate clothing.
Groups of 20 or more are asked to make reservations
You can also request a private guided tour or after-hours tour for your group
About the Tour
You may not take photos in the castle rooms
Photos are, however, allowed of the exterior of the castle complex
The castle does not allow strollers in the interior rooms, you must leave them outside the castle
The castle grounds allow dogs on a leash, but they do not allow dogs in the castle
You may bring your dog on the shuttle bus and in the Castle Restaurant, assuming it is well-behaved
The castle accepts debit cards, credit cards, and cash, but the beer garden kiosk in summer is cash only
There are 25 steps to get inside the castle, the castle will not provide assistance with entry
Free admission is provided for two escorts per one wheelchair user
The last room of the tour is the Treasury which is accessible from the courtyard at ground-level and should provide no mobility obstacles
Those in a wheelchair who cannot ride the shuttle should contact the castle 1 week prior to their visit for alternate arrangements
Walkers and canes are allowed in the castle with rubber tips to prevent floor damage
€28 for a family ticket (2 adults with up to 4 children)
Groups of more than 20: €10 per person (by reservation)
Parking is available at €2,00 per day for a car. Tickets for the castle are available at the parking lot shop next to the shuttle bus station. A shuttle is available from the parking lot up to the castle. Tickets for the shuttle bus to the castle can be purchased from the driver. Restrooms can be found in the upper parking lot and in the castle.
In 2015, Burg Hohenzollern was closed July 13-24 for the filming of the 2016 movie, A Cure for Wellness. Naturally, this just so happened to be when we were planning to visit. We pulled into the main drive where security stopped us. They would allow us to take pictures of the castle from this point but were not allowed any further. We were disappointed as this looked like one of the coolest castles we had planned to see, but the fortress was pretty impressive even from a distance. I fully intend to plan a trip back to actually tour one day.
Looking for more fairytale castles to visit? You’re in the right area, German has over 20,000 castles!