After we returned from Cologne last month, we visited the two castles of Weinheim, the Windeck Ruins and Wachenburg. Seeing those two castles sparked my interest, so soon after we traveled nearly two hours to a mountaintop just outside of Hechingen to explore the Hohenzollern Castle.
Hohenzollern Castle is the fairy tale palace of your dreams, manifested. Resting in the foothills of the Swabian Alps, the castle towers more than 700 feet over the towns of Hechingen and Bisingen, dominating the skyline and providing gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside. This incredible castle is considered the ancestral seat of the Hohenzollern family, which rose to prominence during the Middle Ages and eventually became German Emperors.
The structure that exists today is actually the third Hohenzollern Castle to stand in its spot. The first, despite being considered "the most fortified House in Germany," was destroyed completely in 1423. Construction on the second castle began soon after in 1454, and the Hohenzollern seat was reborn stronger and larger than ever. This structure weathered the Thirty Years' War, but was sadly neglected, and fell into total disrepair by the beginning of the 19th century. Only the chapel still remains from the medieval castle.
Hohenzollern Castle was then largely ignored until Crown Prince Frederick William of Prussia visited it in 1819, and decided to have it restored once more. In 1844, having been crowned King Frederick William IV, he wrote in a letter, "The memories of the year 1819 are exceedingly dear to me and like a pleasant dream, it was especially the sunset we watched from one of the Castle bastions, ... now this adolescent dream turned into the wish to make the Hohenzollern Castle habitable again..." And so in 1850 construction of the castle began one last time, producing, for the most part, the structure we are left with today. In the years since, the castle has been filled with valuable artifacts by one family member or another, most of which are still displayed for tourists. Visitor's fees fund the castle's upkeep entirely.
I absolutely adored this castle. For ten euro each, we were able to explore the outside areas and chapel on our own, as well as partake in a guided tour of the inside. There are not words for the beauty of the view from castle grounds, or for the decadence of the interior (no cameras are permitted inside, sadly).
(Searching for lost treasures behind loose stones.)
(Statues of various prominent members of the Hohenzollern family.)
(Entering the inner grounds.)