Germany has long been the home of many of the fairy tales we heard when growing up. The Brothers Grimm centered almost all of their tales in Germany. Hansel and Grettle, Puss in Boots, Rapunzle, Sleeping Beauty, the Pied Piper, Cinderella, the Frog Prince and Little Red Riding Hood all took place in Germany. And the castles we love almost all have their roots in Germany.
German roads curl through fairytale history, cutting through dark forests, around forbidding mountains and beneath towering castles. I’ve always enjoyed conjuring up images of witches and beautiful princesses when driving past castles in Germany, whether skirting the Alps, following a historic river, motoring through the Black Forest or along the Fairytale Road.
Here’s the German Tourist Offices pitch:
Being the center of uncountable fairytales, home to myths and sagas, castles in Germany are still surrounded by a mysterious aura. Since centuries the stories of the Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel or Goetz von Berlichingen have fascinated visitors, who can trace the heroine’s steps and sleep in their rooms — a truly unique vacation.
Along the Fairy Tale Road from Hanau to Bremen lie the town of Sababurg and the Sleeping Beauty Castle known through Grimm’s fairytale. At the beginning of the 19th century the castle was abandoned and crumbled away to the wild romantic state, which the people believe the Brothers Grimm must have described in their fairytale. It was renovated in the early 1900s and today is a castle hotel that attracts young and old to rest like the Sleeping Beauty. From March to October, Castle Sababurg stages the story of the “Sleeping Beauty and the Prince” with a little humoristic twist.
Only a few miles east of Sababurg, visitors can discover the next fairytale destination. Castle Trendelburg has a long history and a heroine with exceptionally long hair. The castle is the place where the fairytale of Rapunzel supposedly took place. Locked in the castle’s tower without stairs the beautiful princess was held prisoner. Her lover, the prince, still found a way for occasional visits, using Rapunzel’s long hair to climb up the tower. Today Trendelburg Castle is a picturesque hotel, where visitors can spend an unforgettable and romantic night with a fairytale atmosphere in the original Rapunzel Tower.
Goetz von Berlichingen is probably one of the most prominent figures in German literature. The knight’s legend inspired Goethe to write his famous drama about the free spirited fighter from Baden-Wuerttemberg. Von Berlichingen, who lost his hand during battle, and replaced it with an iron fist, actually lived in the 16th century in the knight’s castle Hornberg in the Neckar Valley in the southwest of Germany. In this castle overlooking the river he was incarcerated for 11 years, being a free thinker and in continuous dispute with the Emperor. Today Castle Hornberg is a beautiful hotel in the picturesque wine growing area. Visitors can sleep in the knight’s old stronghold and get a feeling of the Middle Ages.
King Ludwig of Bavaria was the ultimate fairytale king. Obsessed with myths and stories himself, he built the magical castles of Linderhof, Herrenchiemsee and the famous Neuschwanstein, the role model for Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle, in Bavaria that resemble a magical lifestyle. Ludwig’s own story is more of a dark mystery. Being declared insane at the end of his life, he was kept in his own Castle Berg located at the Lake Starnberg, close to Munich. Here he died mysteriously. The legend says he drowned with his psychiatrist in Lake Starnberg, but actually nobody knows if the King committed suicide or if he died by accident. The Starnberger Lake with its neighboring castle Neuschwanstein, King Ludwig’s favorite castle, remains a beautiful area that attracts more than one million visitors per year.