Rayka was born and raised in Northern Germany, in a small village on the border with Denmark. Growing up rather away from almost everything, she found her excitement in writing and visualizing life in places far away from home. Right after school, where she studied literature and anthropology, she started exploring the world.
Since 2000, Rayka has been living a nomad live, writing about traveling, plays and short stories, making art and theater in Europe, East Africa, South East Asia and North America.
She's a member of Label Gray NYC, the FREE(AK) SHOW and the founder of the Performancekollektiv for New Music and Text in the intercultural context DissOPERAlusion.
Standing high above the valleys or even on its own tiny islands, overlooking beautiful mountains and rivers, with its decorative piercing towers – the fairytale German castles will leave no wish unfulfilled. In almost every region of the country you will find a dazzling castle, which you are allowed to enter. More than 15,000 castles are ready to tell us stories about their mysterious past.
At one point in history, Germany had been divided into numerous smaller independent states. That’s why various kings, queens, dukes and knights, had erected their lavish castles and fortresses to show off in a pompous way, as well as to protect their private territories.
Castle Neuschwanenstein, with its imposing round watch-towers, peeking high above the sea level, is a one fine example, though fortunately – there are countless others. So, if you want to feel like a king or a queen for a day, while striding through the semi-dark chambers and throne halls – come visit one of these magical castles.
1. Castle Neuschwanenstein
Undoubtedly, one of the top attractions in Germany, this beautiful, fairytale castle fulfills all kinds of childhood dreams and visions of a magical kingdom. In fact, it also inspired Disney’s design of Cinderella’s castle.
The stunning Neuschwanenstein castle was constructed in 1869 on behalf of a shy Bavarian King, Ludwig II. The King was longing for a romantic medieval knight’s castle with magnificent views from above. Neuschwanenstein’s glitzy interiors were remodeled after the romantic eclecticism of the 19th century. It represents pretty much everything that one could ever expect or hope to find in the word ‘castle’.
- Address: Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Bavaria
- Opening hours: March 24 – October 15: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; October 16 – March 23: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm (make sure to buy your ticket before you walk up to the Castle, in the ‘Ticket Center Hohenschwangau‘)
- Entrance: 13 €
- Website: http://neuschwanstein.de/englisch
2. Castle Hohenschwangau
Don’t be confused when you drive up to the Neuschwanenstein and spot two beautiful castles opposite each other. The area is actually a highlight for all castle-lovers! The first knight’s castle was erected here in the 12th century, but alas it was later destroyed.
In 1832, the crown prince Maximilian of Bavaria had rebuilt Castle Hohenschwangau to its present form and then used it as his summer residence. King Ludwig II had also spent his childhood years here. Maybe that’s why he built his Neuschwanenstein castle just across from it?
This dreamy yellow castle with its three round towers still displays the royal apartments, a royal garden, as well as a royal kitchen.
- Address: Alpseestraße 30, 87645 Schwangau, Bavaria
- Opening hours: March 24 – October 15: 9:00 am – 6:00 pm; October 16 – March 23: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Entrance: 13 €
- Website: https://en.schwangau.de/welcome/
3. Castle Schwerin
This next fairytale castle is both grand and majestic. It rises tall on its own little island, surrounded by a beautiful lake. Its history begun in 965, with the ancient remnants from a Slavic castle’s wall. In the period of more than a thousand years countless rulers have modified and expanded it, shaping its unique image into what we see today.
After its last major reconstruction between 1845 – 1857, it became one of the most important structures of the romantic period in Europe. Its elegant architecture, striking towers plus its remarkable details make it one of the most beautiful and recognizable castles in Germany. Inside the Schwerin castle you will find a throne hall, as well as the living quarters of the Dukes, who once called it home.
- Address: Lennéstraße 1, 19053 Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
- Opening hours: April 15 – October 14: Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 6:00 pm; October 15 – April 14 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Entrance: 8,50 €
- Website: https://www.museum-schwerin.de/en/
4. Castle Wartburg
In terms of the country’s history, this castle from the 11th century, might be the most important one. A number of prominent personalities once resided inside the Wartburg castle, such as Goethe and Martin Luther, who translated the New Testament into German.
In 1817, local students were invited to the Wartburgfest (the Wartburg festivity) and it marked the first time the bourgeois united to form a national state. If Neuschwanenstein and Schwerin can be considered as dream castles for every girl’s fantasy, this one might be for the men who wanted to be a knight instead of a king, when they were kids.
- Address: An der Wartburg 1, 99817 Eisenach, Thüringen
- Opening hours: daily 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
- Entrance: 12 €
- Website: www.wartburg.de/en/wartburg-castle.html
5. Castle Moyland
The history of this romantic castle with its impressive ‘Disney-like’ towers and balconies begun in 1307. Since then it was destroyed and rebuilt several times. In 1987, the Moyland castle was restored for the final time, and is now home to the largest collection of works by the contemporary artist, Joseph Beuys.
Beuys is one of the most important artists of the 20th century. The castle’s museum displays his drawings, paintings, sculptures, large installations and even some artistic performances. Moyland is also surrounded by a charming park, as well as an amusing sculpture garden. This dream castle is a number one place for all the art lovers!
- Address: Am Schloss 4, 47551 Bedburg-Hau, Nordrhein-Westfalen
- Opening hours: April 1 – September 30: Tuesday – Friday: 11:00 am – 6:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, October 1 – March 31: Tuesday – Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Entrance: 7 €
- Website: www.moyland.de/en.html
6. Castle Lichtenstein
Sometimes books can make a real impact. Once Count Wilhelm of Württemberg read the novel “Lichtenstein” by Wilhelm Hauff, he decided to commission his own ‘Castle Lichtenstein’ – and here it is!
This splendid castle from the 1840, rises high above the town of Lichtenstein in a dramatic position – it’s located on top of a huge rock, 817 metres above sea level. With its remarkable medieval tower, beautiful courtyard, and a rolling bridge, this neo-Gothic castle is just as mysterious as it is enchanting. Taking a leisurely stroll through its old chambers and then spending some time in its courtyard, will surely catapult you into a different era.
- Address: Schloß Lichtenstein 1, 72805 Lichtenstein, Baden-Württemberg
- Opening hours: February – March: Saturday – Sunday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, April – October: daily 9:00 am – 5:30 pm, November: Saturday – Sunday 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Entrance: 3,50 – 8 €
- Website: www.schloss-lichtenstein.de/en/
7. Castle Löwenburg
Constructed between 1793 and 1801, the Löwenburg castle admittedly gives tribute to the medieval times. Nestled in the middle of the “Bergpark” (a mountain park), this captivating castle was the brainchild of the architect Heinrich Christoph Jussow.
Count Wilhelm IX assigned him to built fake ‘ruins’ with numerous oriels, turrets and alcoves. Inside it was decorated with interesting baroque elements and was used as a summer residence by the Count. Today you will also find an exceptional collection of armory inside the castle.
- Address: Schlosspark 9, 34131 Kassel, Hessen
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Wednesdays open until 8 pm
- Entrance: 4 € (including a guided tour)
- Website: http://museum-kassel.de/en
8. Castle Cochem
Rising high above the river Mosel, this lovely medieval castle by the name Cochem, dates back to the 11th century. It was remodeled in the 19th century to keep up with the latest trends of the period. Hence, the castle’s transformation into its current neo-Gothic appearance.
This magnificent castle can also make all of your wild childhood dreams come true – that is, if you have time, you can take part at a knight’s banquet, or some other engaging medieval festivities.
- Address: Schlossstraße 36, 56812 Cochem, Rheinland-Pfalz
- Opening hours: Summer: daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (including a guided tour)
- Entrance: 6 €
- Website: http://www.reichsburg-cochem.de/index.php?id=4&L=1
9. Castle Hohenzollern
The ancestral seat of the Prussian Royal House, as well as of the Hohenzollern Princes, this fairytale castle still belongs to the Hohenzollern family. It was first mentioned in 1061, and it has been an integral part of German history ever since.
After it was restored in the 19th century, the castle was converted into a a museum dedicated to the royal family. An open-air cinema in the courtyard, numerous theatric plays, different exhibitions, a beer garden, and many more exciting things await anyone visiting the Castle Hohenzollern.
In addition, if will you have a chance to come here in the Winter, you’ll certainly be delighted by the snowy wonderland which will unfold in front of you on your way through the forest and up the mountain to the castle.
- Address: 72379 Burg Hohenzollern, Baden-Württemberg
- Opening hours: Summer: daily 10:00 am – 5:30 pm, Winter: daily 10:00 am – 4:50 pm
- Entrance: 7 – 12 €
- Website: www.burg-hohenzollern.com/startpage.html
10. Castle Eltz
For over 850 years the Castle Eltz had remained in the same family. To stop the numerous disputes, the castle was divided into three main parts, among the three ruling brothers in the 13th century. Each heir had then modified his own part according to his unique vision, between the 13th and the 19th centuries. This entailed constructing own apartments, round towers and the oriels.
Another special aspect to this castle is the fact that it has never been destroyed. It’s a truly wonderful way to explore history and a fantastic architecture.
- Address: Burg Eltz 1, 56294 Wierschem, Rheinland-Pfalz
- Opening hours: Summer: daily 9:30 am – 5:30 pm
- Entrance: 10 €
- Website: www.burg-eltz.de/en/
11. Castle Glücksburg
Duke Johann of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg was the third son of the Danish king but he didn’t like that fact very much. His spent his whole life trying to earn recognition from everyone around him. He build the Castle Glücksburg as his biggest show-off – and he did a good job at it.
This enchanting 16th century white edifice is positioned right next to the beautiful Flensburg fjord. All of its four corners are decorated with a round tower. Inside you will find some beautiful art and interior designs from the 16th to the beginning of the 19th centuries. Glücksburg was also a home residency to a number of Danish royals in Germany.
- Address: Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein
- Opening hours: Summer: daily 10:00 am – 6:00 pm, Winter: Saturday – Sunday 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Entrance: 8 €
- Website: www.schloss-gluecksburg.de/en/
12. Castle Wernigerode
First constructed as a hunting lodge in the 12th century, this enigmatic castle was modified at the end of the 15th century into its current gothic theme. During the 16th century it was further modernized with additional renaissance details. At the time of the Thirty Years’ War it was partly destroyed and then rebuilt in the 17th century.
With Duke Ernst zu Stolberg-Wernigerode at its helm, it became a romantic castle for the use of his family. Lastly, due to another popular trend, it was remodeled again in the mid-19th century. You can still trace all of its different historic elements outside, as well as inside the castle. Oh, and don’t miss its incredibly beautiful garden and the surrounding park.
- Address: Am Schloß 1, 38855 Wernigerode, Sachsen-Anhalt
- Opening hours: Easter – November 6: daily 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; November 7 – Easter: Tuesday-Friday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; closed on Mondays
- Entrance: 3-15 €
- Website: www.schloss-wernigerode.de/en/
13. Castle Moritzburg
Located in a close proximity to Dresden, the distinctive castle Moritzburg was completed in 1542. It was commissioned by Count Moritz of Saxony and it was constructed as his hunting lodge. He was dreaming of a mythical “Diana’s temple”, surrounded by exotic animals, like lions. The Count wanted to hold huge banquets as well as staged plays of navel battles. Unfortunately he died before it was ever finished.
In the 1800s, the grand-grand children of the Count decided to complete the landscaping around the castle according to his final wishes. As a result, a number of smaller “castles”, a port and a lighting tower were added to the estate.
- Address: Schlossallee, 01468 Moritzburg, Sachsen
- Opening hours: Summer: daily 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Entrance: 4-8 €
- Website: www.schloss-moritzburg.de/en
14. Castle Braunfels
First mentioned in 1246 as a fortress, Castle Braunfels has changed its appearance numerous times ever since. In the 14th century the city walls and the watch towers were added. After it was partly destroyed by fire in 1679, it was remodeled into a baroque fortress between the 17th and the 18th centuries by the Count Moritz. In 1845 Prince Ferdinand altered the castle once more into a trendy Neo-Gothic theme.
- Address: Belzgasse 1, 35619 Braunfels, Hessen
- Opening hours: Saturday – Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Entrance: 7 € (including a guided tour, it’s not possible to see it without one)
- Website: www.schloss-braunfels.de/en/
In 1327 King Ludwig IV commissioned the construction of a tower on a tiny island, located on the river Rhein. Later it was expanded into a “castle” known as the Pfalzgrafenstein. From above the nearby mountains, one can see everything happening on the river for miles.
Anyone who wanted to pass the castle, had to pay a toll. The last two custom officials left the castle in 1867. To get to the castle you have to take a ferry plus enjoy a slow ride on the river. Remarkably, it has never been destroyed, as well.
- Address: 56349 Kaub, Hessen
- Opening hours: January – February + November: Saturday – Sunday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; March: daily except Mondays 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; April – October: daily except Mondays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Entrance: 4 €
* Please note: all prices are valid for 2017 only.