There are six castles in Bamberg, but sooo many more castles near Bamberg, which you can easily see with a rental car on a day trip. Public transport access is also possible, albeit a bit more tedious for some locations.
Whatever way you choose, here is your quick guide for which castles in Franconia to keep in mind on your travels and pictures to help you decide. As always, if you have any questions or would like us to join you as a guide or professional vacation photographer, feel free to get in touch.
Fun fact: “Castle” has several translations in Germany. Schloss refers to more of a pretty type with more of a residential purpose. A Burg is meant more for defense.
Giechburg Castle, also known as Schloss Giechburg, is a medieval fortress located in the Franconian region of Bavaria, Germany. The castle was built in the 11th century on a hill overlooking the town of Scheßlitz and the surrounding countryside.
The castle originally belonged to the noble family of Giech, who were the lords of the surrounding area. Over the centuries, the castle was expanded and modified several times, with the most significant changes taking place in the 16th and 17th centuries.
During the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century, Giechburg Castle was besieged and damaged by Swedish forces. It was later rebuilt in the Baroque style, and the interior was renovated with ornate stucco work, frescoes, and other decorations.
Today, Giechburg Castle is a popular tourist attraction, offering guided tours of the castle’s interior and its extensive gardens. Visitors can explore the castle’s many rooms, including the Knight’s Hall, the Great Hall, and the Chapel, and learn about the castle’s rich history and the lives of the people who lived there.
In addition to its historical and cultural significance, Giechburg Castle is also known for its stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can enjoy panoramic vistas of the Franconian region from the castle’s towers and ramparts.
Ellingen Castle is a Baroque-style palace located in the town of Ellingen in the state of Bavaria, Germany. The castle was originally built as a fortress in the Middle Ages but was later transformed into a Baroque palace in the 17th and 18th centuries.
The construction of the palace began in 1710 under the direction of Johann Christoph Sturm, and it was completed in 1730 by Gabriel de Gabrieli. The castle was used by the Prince-Bishops of Eichstätt as a residence until 1802 when the principality was secularized.
The palace has a grand entrance hall, a chapel, and many ornately decorated rooms with frescoes, stucco work, and gilded moldings. The palace also has a large garden with fountains, statues, and a pavilion. The castle is now a museum that showcases the history of the palace and the town of Ellingen.
Ellingen Castle has been listed as a Bavarian cultural heritage site since 1973 and is a popular tourist destination. It has also been used as a location for several films, including the 2010 historical drama “Ludwig II.”
Forchheim Castle, also known as Schloss Forchheim, is a castle located in the town of Forchheim in Bavaria, Germany. It was built in the 14th century as a residence for the Bishop of Bamberg, who used it as a hunting lodge.
The castle was renovated in the 16th century and converted into a Renaissance-style palace. In the 19th century, it was used as a barracks and later as a prison. After World War II, it was used as a refugee camp and then as a museum.
Today, Forchheim Castle houses the Forchheim Museum, which features exhibits on the history of the town and the region. The castle also serves as a cultural center, hosting concerts, theater performances, and other events throughout the year.
The castle is open to the public and visitors can tour the grounds and the museum. The castle’s tower offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. The castle is a popular attraction for tourists and locals alike, and is considered one of the most important historical landmarks in the region.
- Cost: 4 EUR (adults), 2 EUR (teens), 1 EUR (kids)
- Address: Kapellenstraße 16, 91301 Forchheim
- Tourism website
Sadly, the Baroque castle is permanently closed but you still have a pretty good peek through the iron gates.
Schloss Unterleiterbach is a historic castle located in the village of Unterleiterbach in Upper Franconia. It was originally built in the 13th century and has undergone several renovations and expansions over the centuries and looks beautiful.
Throughout its history, Schloss Unterleiterbach has been owned by various noble families and has served a variety of purposes, including as a hunting lodge and a place of refuge during times of war. In recent years, it has been restored and converted into a luxury hotel and event space, with a restaurant, conference facilities, and elegant guest rooms.
- No entry
- No parking
- Restaurants in town
- Address: Schloss Unterleiterbach, Schloßstraße 2, 96199 Zapfendorf
- Website (in German)
Fun fact: German has a letter that isn’t found in the English language: ß. It can also be written as a double S when you want to type it into your search. For example: Straße (street) can be written as Strasse.
One of the most unique castles in Germany is Schloss Nassanger. It too cannot be entered but you can walk past and partly around it on public paths.
What makes this castle so special is that it is entirely circular and was built to have 12 arches and 365 windows, serving as a sort of calendar.
The castle was built in the middle of a former wetland and wide agricultral space and has been used for those purposes mostly to this day.
- No entry
- No restaurant
- No parking
- Address: Gutshof Nassanger, 96215 Lichtenfels
Have you ever seen a pink castle? You can in the town of Lichtenfels. It’s only a 5 minute walk from the train station and right in the historic city center.
The castle itself is used for city administration and as an event venue and can therefore not be entered. But youcan walk around it and even partially climb onto the city walls next to it for a great view over Lichtenfels and onto the back of the castle (with an ugly modern glass staircase).
The castle was built in 1555 by Caspar von Sternberg during the rebellion of the townspeople. Only after he was mostly done did he ask the local archbishop for a permit. The archbishop wasn’t actually opposed to the rebellion but he granted the continuation of the castle anyway with the requisition of not adding a fortification.
The town itself is worth a quick visit as well. There are good restaurants, historic churches and gate towers to view. Lichtenfels is particularly renowned for its traditional basket weaving and there are handcraft markets being held regularly.
There is a castle in Staffelstein, called Schloss Oberau. It is only a few stops from Bamberg and can easily be visited after stopping in Lichtenfels. The castle itself is off limits unless you book a summer boating camp stay for your kids here or a hotel stay in general.
It was originally built in the 14th century as a fortress and has since undergone numerous renovations and additions.
Through the iron gates and dense foliage, a limited peek is possible. The castle sits right next to pretty lakes around which you can take shady walks to enjoy nature. From here, you can walk through the spa park (free of charge), enjoy the salty spray from the graduation works to clear your sinuses and then have a relaxing wellness time in the spa and pool.
The town center of Staffelstein is excessively picturesque as well with half-timbered houses, a pretty townhall and museum dedicated to Adam Riese, who is a famous German mathematician.
Overall, Schloss Staffelstein is a unique and fascinating destination that combines history, architecture, and modern luxury, making it an ideal choice for visitors to the Bavarian region of Germany.
- Address: Schloss Oberau, Oberau 1, 96231 Bad Staffelstein
- Official website (in German)
Not far from Bamberg you can find the pretty yellow and white castle Wernsdorf in the village of the same name. Entry is only possible during concerts but you can see it through the fence.
For more than 1000 years, concerts have been hosted here and to honor this tradition, it houses a small museum, which features more than 220 playable instruments. The historic concert hall is also noteworthy.
You can view current event listings or request group tours (which include a tour, museum entry, and a private concert by the musicians of Capella Antqiua Bambergensis) on the official website.
- Address: Schloß Wernsdorf, 96129 Strullendorf
- Phone: +49 (0) 09505 8060606
A pretty unique castle near Bamberg is Schloss Thurnau in the town of Thurnau in the Upper Franconia region of Bavaria, Germany.
It is a compact fortress but features a wooden sky bridge to the church next door. So fancy people would not have to get exposed to the climate or the dirty medieval streets. You can walk around the castle courtyards and enter the church for free.
The castle was originally built in the 13th century, and has undergone several renovations and additions over the centuries.
Its oldest surviving structure is the Bergfried, a tall cylindrical tower that was built in the 13th century. The castle was expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries with the addition of new buildings and a courtyard. The castle was further renovated in the 18th and 19th centuries, with the addition of Baroque and Rococo elements.
In addition to its historical and cultural significance, Thurnau Castle is also known for its association with the poet Friedrich Rückert. Rückert lived in the castle from 1820 to 1826, and it was during this time that he wrote some of his most famous works, including the collection of love poems known as Liebesfrühling.
Today, the castle is a hotel, where you can stay the night. Book your bed here*.
- Address: Hotel Schloss Thurnau, Marktpl. 1, 95349 Thurnau
- Parking available
- Official website (German)
- Phone: +49 (0) 9228 9540
One of the highlights of a visit to Schloss Greifenstein is the castle’s location on a hill overlooking the town of Heiligenstadt and the surrounding countryside. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views from the castle’s ramparts and towers.
The castle chapel dates back to 1723, which you can see engraved above the entrance gate. The castle itself is older than that, of course. It was first mentioned in 1172 and written as Grifenstin. The then owners were the most prominent and powerful family in the Franconian Switzerland, the House of Schlüsselberger.
Since 1691 it has been officially in the hands of the dukely family Schenken von Stauffenberg.
The castle also hosts a number of events throughout the year, including concerts, exhibitions, and medieval festivals. The castle’s grounds include a restaurant.
You can see a video here.
Note that there is also a Castle Greifenstein (Burg Greifenstein) in the neighbouring state Thuringia, in the town of Bad Blankenstein.
- Entrance fee: 6.50 EUR (adults), 4 EUR (kids 5 -14 years)
- Address: Schloß Greifenstein 1, 91332 Heiligenstadt i.OFr.
- parking available
- Closed between 26 January to February 28
- Open daily between May 1 to October 31
- Open from Wednesday to Sunday between 1 March to 30 April and 1 November and 15 January
- image (c) Витольд Муратов, CC BY-SA 3.0