Wartburg Castle doesn’t look like much from far, but this imposing castle that overlooks Eisenach is not only old but one of the best castles in Germany.
Where is Wartburg Castle?
The Wartburg Castle is set 400m above the town of Eisenach, Thuringia. The regal castle overlooks the town and blends in with the surrounding forested area. The castle is well known in the area and attracts about half a million visitors a year. The castle has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1999.
You can reach Wartburg castle by train from all the major cities including Munich and Nuremberg.
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The History of Wartburg Castle
Construction on the castle started in 1067. Over the centuries it has housed many important figures in German history including Martin Luther. Many Lutherans travel to Wartburg castle to see the room where he translated the first German Bible during the German reformation.
Wartburg castle’s beauty is inspirational, in fact, Ludwig II used it as his inspiration for Neuschwanstein’s design. The castle has inspired many artists and authors over the years and at one point was known as the place of muses. It is said that the castle was the setting for the Sängerkrieg which is said was the inspiration for the famous opera Wagner opera Tannhäuser.
The castle has undergone some major renovations since 1921 so the interiors only date back to the 19th century, but many of the outer structures date back further.
Related Reading: Neuschwanstein Castle: How to Make The Most of Your Visit
From the town of Eisenach, you can get to Wartburg castle with a shuttle bus or you can choose to hike up through the forest. I would recommend the hike on a warm day but keep in mind that the hill is steep. There are also donkey rides available for children.
The only way to enter the castle grounds is over the massive drawbridge. It’s a real sleeping beauty moment, to be honest, and gives you the feeling that your crossing over into a different dimension.
The tour takes you through the courtyard, Knights room, dining hall and the spectacular Elizabeth Bower which is named after the 13th-century Hungarian princess who once lived there. There are some legends surrounding Elizabeth, who was later made a saint. Some legends say that she used to take bread to the poor without anyone knowing until one day her brother-in-law caught her and asked her what she was carrying in her basket. She replied flowers and when the cloth was taken off the basket the bread had miraculously changed into roses.
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Many of the legends and stories surrounding the castle are depicted in the tapestries and wall murals in the castle. The Wartburg music hall will look familiar to you if you have visited Schloss Schwanstein. The music hall is a replica just on a larger scale.
The last part of the tour is the festival hall which was once a magnificent banquet hall. You can just imagine ladies and lords getting together to eat and dance in the most beautiful gowns in a collage of colour. The festival hall is now used for concerts during the concert season.
What is Wartburg Used For Now?
The palace, which the oldest structure, is now used for music concerts. If experiencing classical music in a historical setting is something on your list of things to do in Germany then this is the place to go. You can also enjoy a tour of the museum castle that has a great selection of historical artifacts such as musical instruments, tapestries and original silverware that was once used by the residents of the castle.
Know Before You Go to Wartburg Castle
- Walking around the castle grounds is free but if you want to see most of the interiors of the castle you need to book a tour.
- Tours go from 8:30 to 17:30 in summer and 9:00 to 15:30 in winter.
- English tours are only available at 13:00 daily.
- Admission costs between €4 and €10 and tickets can be purchased in the courtyard of the Wartburg Castle.
- The tour is only guided through the interior of the castle, the museum and Martin Luthers rooms are part of the tour but you are free to explore them at your leisure.
Accommodation in Eisenach
The Romantik hotel auf der Wartburg is located a short walk away from the Wartburg castle. This beautiful hotel offers you incredible views of the surrounding area and the castle itself as well as comfortable rooms. Enjoy a perfect breakfast on the terrace or take a walk through the antique grounds.
The hotel has a great restaurant, so even if you aren’t planning on staying make sure to stop if you’re walking down from the castle for a meal.
Steigenberger Hotel Thüringer Hof is a traditional hotel located in the heart of Eisenach. It is just a few minutes walk from the Wartburg castle. Enjoy great views of Eisenach and Wartburg castle from the hotel terrace. The location of the hotel is perfect for walks in the unique town of Eisenach.
Haus Hainstein is a hotel with a flair of German authenticity. The hotel is located in a residential area on a hill on the outskirts of Eisenach. The hotel offers walking tours on request and great authentic Thuringian cuisine at its restaurant. Enjoy some great views. Wifi is available in common areas.
How To Get to Eisenach?
- You can reach Eisenach by train, bus or car from the major cities in the area
- Eisenach is ~ 3 hours away from Frankfurt
- Munich and Nuremberg are ~ 4 hours away from Eisenach by train
If you love castles then Wartburg needs to be on your list as one of the best castles to visit in Germany.