Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen is quite possibly the fairest castle in all the land.
Though Germany is full of gorgeous castles, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen is one of the largest and grandest I’ve ever laid eyes on, rising up out of an outcropping of rocks and stretching across almost an entire city block.
If you’re into magical castles you’ve got to add this one to your list. However there are a few things to know in terms of the best vantage points for photographing it and how to get the most out of the tour inside:
First, A Brief History
Built in the early 11th century, Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen is located in the Swabian Alps in southern Baden-Wüttemberg, Germany.
As you step into the castle, keep in mind that the oldest parts of it are actually hidden underneath the rebuilt structures over the years, which I think adds to the castle’s gothic charm. The first alterations took place in the 12th century, where the Helfenstein family rebuilt the castle with buckel stones. In the 15th century, under the instruction of the then Count of Werdenberg, the castle was expanded outwards on the northeast side, followed by another expansion westwards just a couple of years later.
The current owners, the House of Hohenzollern, is a dynasty of former princes, electors, kings and emperors of Hohenzollern, Brandenburg, Prussia, the German Empire, and Romania. The family was prosperous and powerful, so much so that there’s another famous Hohenzollern Castle just an hour or so away, which is equally stunning.
Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 1893 and had to be rebuilt. Destructions and constructions continued to take place up until 1902, with each construction leaving its mark in and around the castle. It’s safe to say that the castle went through a lot to become what it is today.
Today, the prince and princess of Hohenzollern welcome visitors with guided tours through history at the castle. Expect to see important private collections of over 3000 pieces of armor, opulent Victorian interior and exterior architecture design (don’t forget to look up!), as well as a royal banquet with the same 5 courses the royalties had for their wedding in 1893 (but don’t go if you’re vegetarian or vegan). You can find out more on their official website.
If you are intrigued and want to check it out yourself, here’s more information about the guided tours:
Opening Hours: Daily from April – October from 9AM – 6PM (last tour starts at 5PM), and daily from November – December and March from 9AM – 5PM (last tour starts at 4PM) except for December 24-25 and December 31
Tour duration: 60 minutes.
Time: Multiple times every hour.
Entrance fee including tour: €9.50 per person.
Special feature: No advance registration necessary for solo travelers.
You can buy your tickets upon arrival. While the guided tours are usually held in German, a leaflet in English is given. Group tours in English can also be arranged with advance notice via email.
Though photos are not allowed of the inside (I obtained permission for the purposes of this article), don’t despair, as some of the best views of the castle are from the outside.
The Best Vantage Points
There are, in my opinion, three perfect places to take photos of the castle. The first is at the entrance, which has a long, steep walkway leading up to it. You’ll see the archway above you, and the walkway to the start of the walking tours to the right.
I personally loved the shot walking up as well as this one, which was just to the left of the entrance, in front of the cafe:
Next are the two spots in town that provide a nice, full overview of the castle. The first is easy to find – just head to the bridge across from the castle. There’s a parking lot that you can park in located here, and from there it’s a 30-second walk to the bridge.
I liked this spot in particular since the castle reflects on the water below. With the changing leaves when I went in October, it was nothing short of dreamy.
Until, that is, I made it to the observation point.
To reach the point, head to this parking lot and walk to the bridge which will take you over the train tracks and the highway. Then you’ll see a nice little trail through the trees to the right, which snakes back around to the viewpoint. In all it takes about 5 to 7 minutes to walk it – it’s short and easy.
Again, going in the fall was a treat thanks to the golden changing leaves. They made the perfect frame.
How to get to Hohenzollern
Hohenzollern makes a perfect day trip from Stuttgart. If you are driving, you can simply follow this map and it should be possible to get there in 2 or so hours. There’s a car park next to the castle and you will have to pay 2 euro to park there. Public transportation is also available. Take the morning train from Stuttgart bound for Reutlingen, followed by the 7606 bus to Honau. Get off outside the Aksent Hotel and begin your walk to the castle. The journey from Stuttgart should take you about 3 hours.
If you want to see the other Hohenzollern from afar, and I highly recommend that you do, check this post out!
Though we don’t live in fairytale times anymore, sometimes it’s fun to pretend you could be royalty, taking in the opulence and splendor of these castles of old. For history buffs or those who just watched Disney obsessively like I did, taking a trip through Germany’s Baden-Wüttemberg feels like a storybook, and the Hohenzollern castles are the cherry on top.
*This post was brought to you in collaboration with Baden-Wüttemberg, however all opinions of this magical castle are my own.