The Castles Road (Burgenstraße) is a holiday theme route that connects many historic castles, medieval fortresses, Baroque palaces, churches, romantic wall-enclosed towns, endless half-timbered houses, and other interesting sightseeing spots in Germany and the Czech Republic. The Castles Road goes from Mannheim to Prague – en route it passes many popular towns and castles including Heidelberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Bamberg, Coburg, and Loket.
Travelers on the Burgenstraße may also eat or sleep in authentic historic castles turned into hotels and restaurants. A wide range of cultural events entertain visitors in towns along the route. The summer season is particularly active with festivals and concerts arranged in many historic venues.
The Castles Road (Burgenstraße) in Germany and the Czech Republic
The Castles Road (Burgenstraße) is one of Germany’s popular holiday theme routes and follows back roads and endless detours as it winds its way from Mannheim to Prague. The official vacation route is just less than 1200 km (750 mi) long but meanders through the lovely countryside past many castles and historic sites. In contrast, the shortest route between these two cities is just over 500 km (300 mi) long.
A car is generally the best way to travel the Castles Road. No public transportation covers the whole route but trains are available to many towns en route. Mannheim is a very important railways hub while other cities such as Heidelberg, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Bayreuth and Prague see frequent high-speed trains too.
The Best Sights along the Castles Road (Burgenstraße)
Castles and castle ruins are the most obvious sights along the Castles Road. Along the full length of the route, over 70 castles can be seen in various states of repair. However, there are many other interesting sights on the route including more sumptuous palaces, historic villages, impressive churches, half-timbered buildings, parks, and lovely nature.
Top Castles along the Castles Road
Top castles along the Castles Road include amongst others Schloss Heidelberg, Burg Guttenberg, the Imperial Castle (Kaisersburg) in Nuremberg (Nürnberg), Burg Rabenstein, the Veste Coburg Fortress, Festung Rosenberg in Kronach, Hrad Loket (Elbogen), and Prague.
Renaissance and Baroque Palaces along the Castles Road
Numerous palaces can be seen along the Castles Road. Many were converted from medieval fortresses to more sumptuous palaces during the Renaissance and especially Baroque periods. Mannheim has the largest Baroque palace in Germany. Other palaces can be seen in Ansbach, Bamberg, Coburg, Kulmbach, Bayreuth, Sokolov (Falkenau), and Kynzvart (Königswart). Formal palace gardens are still maintained in Schwetzingen, Heidelberg, Ansbach, and Bayreuth.
Top Historic Villages and Towns along the Castle Road
Castles and palaces get the most attentions on the Castles Road but there are many further interesting sights to see. Rothenburg ob der Tauber is probably the most famous medieval, wall-enclosed town in Germany. Tiny Wolframs-Eschenbach and Seßlach in Franconia are also completely encircled by town walls and generally attract far fewer visitors.
Further, very impressive historic towns often overlooked by foreign travelers include the very picturesque Bad Wimpfen with remnants of a Staufen fortress and Schwäbisch Hall with a huge former Benedictine monastery. Almost all towns along the route have elaborate half-timbered buildings. Bamberg’s historic old town is on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list and Bayreuth is forever associated with Richard Wagner and the annual opera festival.
Sleeping and Dining in Castle Hotels and Restaurants
Many of the castles and palaces along the Castles Road have restaurants and a few have also been converted into castle hotels. These castle hotels are not necessarily very sumptuous or luxurious and are thus fairly priced. Do compare rates as many castle hotels do not require a king’s ransom for the night and rates often compare very well with regular hotels of a similar standard. Castle hotels of course add a more romantic setting and sometimes hotel guests may explore parts of the castles off-limits to day visitors and roam the castle grounds after hours too. Families are often very well catered for too.
Not every hotel that sports “Schloss” or “Burg” in the hotel name is necessarily in a real historic castle. Some castle hotels along the Castles Road that are in authentic converted castles include Schloss-Hotel Hirschhorn, Hotel-Restaurant Burg Hornberg, Hotel Burg Colemberg, and Burg Rabenstein.
The Castles Road (Burgenstraße) is just one of many vacation theme routes that crisscross Germany. The most famous is the Romantic Road (Romantische Straße) that crosses the Castles Road in the ever popular tourist magnet Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
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