10 Haunted German Castles Where You Can Spend the Night
A headless baron and a fairy tale gone wrong are just some of the legends haunting these historic castles.
Photo By: Herbert Piel
Photo By: Hangwind
Castles Cloaked in Mystery
Fortunes have been won and lost on the trade routes and rivers of Germany since the dawn of recorded history there. With money to be made, flaunted and protected, it's no surprise that the nation has one of the highest concentrations of medieval castles in the world. Even after centuries of conflict, many of the nation's fortresses are still standing. And you can still spend the night with spirits of the past in the castles seen here.
Paranormal investigators have recorded disembodied voices and witnessed strange shadows following them through the ruins of Rheinfels Castle. The enormous 13th-century fortress was destroyed by French troops in 1797, but much of its foundations — including a series of meandering catacombs — still exist today. Hotel Schloss Rheinfels, a four-star resort and event center, currently hosts overnight guests and late night soirées.
A headless apparition is said to wander throughout Reichstein Castle. In the 16th century, Holy Roman Emporer Rudolf von Habsburg ordered the lord of the castle and his nine sons hanged. It was then that the lord made an unlikely deal: He would allow the executioner to lop his head off with a sword first, but if his headless body managed to walk past each of his sons before falling down, they would live. Stories say that the headless lord managed to save his sons — but that hasn't stopped his spirit from haunting the castle ever since.
Sterrenberg Castle has been keeping watch over the Middle Rhine Valley since at least 1034 AD, but its notoriety comes from a 16th-century poem, "Two Brothers" by Heinrich Heine. Once a formidable family fortress that welcomed battle-weary crusaders, Sterrenburg Castle is now an event center with restaurants and luxurious apartments for hire. However, some say the castle grounds are haunted by the ghosts of conflicts between Germany and France and Protestants and Catholics, as well as a very particular ghost that dates back to the era of Heine's poem.
No, you're not seeing double. Hidden beneath the white towers of Sterrenburg Castle is its sibling, Liebenstein Castle. Today, Liebenstein Castle is an elegant, family-run hotel offering candle-lit castle dinners and medieval suites. But according to Heine's poem, it was the center of a family feud between brothers, each vying for the love of the same woman. The brothers dueled to the death, and the woman stuck between them died with a broken heart. She is said to still wander the stairwells of the castle that was meant to be her wedding gift.
You don’t have to look far to find fairytales at Trendelburg Castle — its most prominent tower is rumored to be the inspiration for the Grimm Brothers' tale, Rapunzel. The tower was added in 1456 and the tale of its sleeping beauty relayed to literary brothers in the 1800s. The Rapuzel tower is now home to a dungeon museum and the forests surrounding the castle are said to be haunted by the ghosts of knights and soldiers who perished during battles in the 30 Years' War.
Wartburg Castle is drenched in history as the site where religious reformer Martin Luther hid in secrecy after his excommunication from the Catholic Church. However, the 11th-century castle was more than 400 years old by the time Luther visited. Wartburg Castle is rumored to be the home of a group of ghosts from the Napoleonic Wars — soldiers who committed suicide, trapped in a stone prison from which they were never meant to escape. The five-star Romantik Hotel Auf Der Wartburg rests at the castle's base.
This Tudor-style, palatial estate overlooking the Elbe River in Dresden sits on the grounds of the Eckberg Winery. Schloss Eckberg is home to a luxurious spa retreat with crackling fire places and piping hot saunas, the perfect place to unwind with a glass of locally-produced wine and ghost stories from the city below. Dresden's back alleys are litered with tales of mystery and intrigue, which you can soak up for yourself via a guided tour from a dungeon master near the city center.
The land around Colmberg Castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times; however, its current fortifications trace their roots back to a stockade built nearly 1,000 years ago. Over the centuries, the castle walls fell into the hands of a dark series of rulers who extracted exorbitant tolls and taxes on the nearby populace. The ghost of a young woman is said to roam the halls of Colmberg Castle after midnight, occasionally making herself known to guests via strange sounds and inexplicable messages on their smart phones.
The dreamlike Hugenpoet Castle has a storied history dating back to its days as the royal manor house of Emperor Charlemagne in the 8th century. Throughout the ages, the castle has been burned, destroyed and rebuilt multiple times, but the estate is now home to a 36-room, five-star hotel that boasts a Michelin-starred restaraunt and ranks among Europe's finest castle hotels. Hugenpoet is rumored to house a mysterious castle ghost that is seldom seen but often felt by visitors who find themselves alone.
The hilltop at Burg Hornberg has been home to fortifications since the Romans built a watchtower there nearly 2,000 years ago, and its grounds have been a breeding ground for legends since the Dark Ages. Burg Hornberg itself was built in the 11th century and primarily served as a military outpost until it became a residence in the 1500s. Today, it's home to a four-star hotel that ocassionally leaves sleepy guests wondering if they're the only ones patrolling its corridors late at night.