Hohenzollern Castle

image courtesy of VisualHunt

With friends located in south Germany, it was inevitable that we found ourselves exploring old castles and castle ruins while visiting with them. I mean – how could we not?

HISTORY: The Hohenzollern Castle is located between Hechingen and Bisingen on the western side of the Swabian Alps, south of Stuttgart, and sits atop the Berg (mountain) Hohenzollern. It's first known written record occurred sometime in the year 1267; we aren't sure how long before that, this castle existed. However, Hohenzollern Castle was besieged in 1423 after which, it was promptly rebuilt into a second, stronger castle in 1454. It passed between a variety of owners over the years, until the second version of this castle fell to ruin in 1798. The current Hohenzollern castle, that exists on the mountain today, was the creation of King Frederick William IV of Prussia who began construction on it in 1850 and did not complete it until 1867 under his brother the king William I's reign. Now privately owned, the Hohenzollern Castle receives more than 300,000 visit per year.

OUR VISIT to the castle began from the parking lot where we purchased bus tickets to travel up to the top of the mountain, so that we wouldn't have to hike. While our German friends (and even my husband!) are in great physical shape, I, myself, am not. Thus bus. It cost €3,10 (cheaper for one way travel) and luckily the bus was already ready and waiting for us to board. We lost no time at all getting to the top of the 2,000+ft mountain.

Photo credit: Matthias Wicke via Visualhunt / CC BY-NC-SA

But as is typical with European castles, just getting to the end of the bus ride isn't enough. You still have to continue upward if you ever want to get inside the castle walls.

Once you make to the top and inside the castle walls, the view is stunning. You feel as if you are on top of the world!

(And don't even get me started on those majestic clouds!)

After exploring for a bit, we decided to take an English tour and see inside the castle walls.

(While waiting in line to go in, I snapped a shot of a Christmas tree!)

Photo credit: -AX- via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC
Pictures inside the castle are forbidden unless you pay a fee … so I, personally, did not take any. With the rooms as small as they were and the tourist crowds as large as they were, I think it would be difficult to take pictures anyway. You can kind of see what the inside of the castle looks like from these pictures I found on Visual Hunt (free images for bloggers that don't violate copyright laws! Woot!).

Photo credit: -AX- via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC
Once inside the castle they had the hoards of us visitors put slippers on so that we wouldn't damage the floor. The slippers are very large and are meant to be worn over your shoes. This made for some pretty fancy "ice skating" down the slippery wood floors of the building. Of course, I only mention this so you are aware that you have to be conscious of steps you take when wearing those slippers; they don't actually pose any major danger for adults or kids alike, unless used/worn unwisely.

Photo credit: albedo20 via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

The inside of the castle, that they allow you to tour anyway, isn't very large, and only takes about half an hour to go through, but I do recommend that you stay ahead of the tour group when possible. It can be difficult to hear what is being said if you linger behind and find yourself at the end of the line. It's also helpful to know that if you are in fact an English speaker and not a German speaker, you may notice your tour guide struggling with the English language. When the tour guide isn't sure of a word, it can make the information s/he is sharing harder to follow, so you will need to listen all the more closely to what is being said. While you can offer your assistance, be kind and understand that learning a language is incredibly difficult. You don't want to offend or humiliate your tour guide with your help. Also, keep in mind that you are in a different country and the first language is not English! Be respectful!

The tour of the castle also included a glimpse of the family treasures inside a museum. The tour guide will explain most pieces or you can explore on your own. (It's a small museum located only in one room of the castle.) There is a mixture of family collected of art pieces, formal royal attire, and even the king's precious jewels and crown.

St. Michael's Cathedral

Before departing, we also managed to visit St. Michael's Cathedral (catholic), Christ's Chapel (protestant) and snuck in a meal at the local restaurant (which has the best spätzle I've ever had!) and check out the gift shop.

(And if you check out this post, we technically did Hohenzollern Castle in a different order. But that's neither here nor there for this post. 😉)

Rather than wait for the never-coming bus, we opted to "hike" our way down the mountain to the car. The hike only took about 15-20 minutes and afforded some very different views of the castle as you looked up at it. The walkways were pretty steep, all but with a flat surface (so not difficult like with rocks and such). Basically, you could comfortably (aside from your poor knees) run down the mountain. When walking at a certain speed, it almost felt as if you were running anyway!

As much as I would have loved to capture a sunset picture from atop the mountain, by sundown, we had to be on our way. We couldn't be late for a very special German dinner our friends' parents had prepared for us. ❤️

• Entrance fee for Hohenzollern Castle is 7€/adult and 5€/child.
• A more in depth (interior) tour can be bought for 12€/adult or 6€/child.
• Parking costs 2€/day.
• Summer shuttle hours: 9-18:30 (or 6:30PM)
• Winter shuttle hours: 10-17:30 (or 5:30PM)
• Drones are prohibited.
• The castle has adjusted hours and/or is closed on Dec. 24, Dec. 31, and Jan 1.

What do you think of those views from the Hohenzollern Castle? Is this a place you would enjoy visiting? Are you familiar at all with Prussian history or more a fan of just traveling to and seeing beautiful places (like me!)? 😀

* Check out this post for even more information about the castle and see detailed images taken from the inside.
** Or go here to see the official website for Hohenzollern Castle.

** Linking up to City Trippers Mummytravels.com and Wandermum.co.uk

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