Hohenzollern Castle

TK in Baden-Württemburg
Burg Hohenzollern. (Photo by A. Kniesel)

The Hohenzollern is the picture-postcard castle of southwestern Germany, all spires and turrets atop a forested mountain

A room inside Hohenzollern Castle
The tour of Hohenzollern Castle.

This fanciful pile of stone turrets, peaked spires, and crenelated walls rising atop a hill in the Swabian countryside is a Romantic 1850–67 Neo-Gothic confection built on the ruins of the long-abandoned 15th century edition of Hohenzollern castle.

The only part of that castle that remains is the Chapel of St. Michael, popular for Catholic weddings.

(Appropriately enough, since the castle saw action in the Thirty Years War, there is also the Protestant Christ's Chapel across the courtyard.)

The Prussian crown and scpeter—and Frederick the Great's snuff boxes—in the treasury of Burg Hohenzollern
The Prussian crown and scepter—and Frederick the Great's snuff boxes—in the treasury of Hohenzollern Castle.

There's a shuttle bus from the parking area up to the castle, but it is much more fun to that 20–30 minutes to climb the increasingly steep path (mostly stairs, actually) through the forest up to the castle. Really makes you appreciate it as a defensive position. Plus: A good workout.

The castle tours are well worth it not just to see the castle interiors and hear about the history of this site, but also to get into the Treasury, which preserves everything from the Prussian royal crown to the robes of Queen Louise of Prussia to a trio of snuff boxes that once belonged to Frederick the Great, of which they are inordinately proud.

Note that, as of summer 2014, these Royal Chambers and treasury are being opened to the public without the otherwise-required guided tour on most weekends in August and September and Sundays in July.

What's a Hohenzollern, anyway?

The complicated family tree of the Hohenzollern dynasty twists and tangles across the walls of the entry room to Hohenzollern Castle
The complicated family tree of the Hohenzollern dynasty twists and tangles across the walls of the entry room to Hohenzollern Castle (with a few blank spots at the end of the branch beyond the current Prince and his infant sons for future heirs).

Hohenzollern castle is the ancestral seat of the entire Hohenzollern dynasty, founded here in the 11th century, one branch of which rose to become the Kings of Prussia and, after 1871, the Emperors of the Germany (you know: Kaiser Wilhelm, pointy helmets, and all that).

The family fortune—and all their various castles and holdings in what was once the vast Kingdom of Prussia and German Empire—was whittled down after World War I.

Today, of the Hohenzollern's ancestral holdings, this castle is all that remains to the current Prince Georg Friedrich of Prussia and his adorable heir-apparent, Carl Friedrich, born in 2013.

The courtyard of Hohenzollern Castle
The courtyard of Hohenzollern Castle.

(Actually, Prince Georg Friedrich is of the family's Brandenburg-Prussian line, and technically only owns two-thirds of the castle. The other third belongs to Karl Friedrich, of the family's local, original Swabian branch. Ah, European nobility and their impossibly tangled family trees.)

The Prince and his family live elsewhere most of the time, but do drop in on occasion.

Mostly, the castle is given over to tourism (in addition to the tours, there's a cafe and restaurant, plus they host summertime courtyard events like movie nights, falconry shows, Shakespearian plays, and stargazing programs) as well as good works (they run a summer camp here for disadvantaged children from Berlin).

Tips & links


Burg Hohenzollern
About 6km south of Hechingen off the B27 (between Tübingen and Rottweil)
Tel. +49-(0)7471-2428
Open daily 10am–5:30pm (to 4:30pm Nov–Mar 15)
Guided tours (in German): Every 20–40 minutes.
Guided tours (in English): Sat-Sun at 11:30am and 14:00 (Mar 15–Oct also at 4:30pm)

How long should I spend in Hohenzollern Castle?

All told, you'll be here at least 2-2.5 hours.

Tours take 45 minutes. Allow another 30–45 minutes to see the chapels and other bits open to the public, and another 20–30 minutes each way to walk up to it and back down (or 20 min each way for the shuttle bus).

Useful links & resources

Tours Under $995 G Adventures

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in July 2014.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.