Hohenzollern Castle – A Fairytale In The Woods (History & Travel Tips)


Hohenzollern Castle is one of Germany’s most spectacular, mighty, and remarkable sites. It is the ancestral home of German Emperors, Prussian Kings, and the Princes of Hohenzollern.

The third and current castle at the site was built in the 19th century. The property is still owned by the family of Hohenzollern. Hohenzollern Castle has existed long before, however, as early as the 11th century. A symbol of German pride, it enchants viewers with its exquisiteness. Given its aesthetics and majestic architecture, the castle attracts thousands of visitors each year and righteously earns its fantasy castle title. 

Let’s have a look at Burg Hohenzollern, its history, and some of its amazing facts to help you understand and know the castle better.

The castle covers the entire top of the mountain and has a complex structure consisting of stately buildings, military buildings, chapels, and gardens.

Mesmerizing Aerial View of Hohenzollern Castle.
Mesmerizing Aerial View of Hohenzollern Castle. Olga Ernst, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Frequently Asked Questions


Early History

The early history of Hohenzollern Castle can be traced back to the High Middle Ages; record of the castle being built at that time can only be found in written documents. It is said that the Counts of Zollern built the original castle. Though the first mention of the House of Hohenzollern in history is as old as 1061, the castle itself is mentioned in 1267 as “Castro Zolre”.

Hohenzollern castle's interior.
Hohenzollern castle’s interior. Ralf Roletschek, GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

The Early Castles

The first castle eventually became the residence of the House of Hohenzollern. The Swabian League of Cities destroyed it after a year-long siege in 1423. After thirty-one years, the construction of the second castle started in 1454. The castle flourished in peaceful existence until the 17th century when the troops of Württemberg seized the castle.

After the seige, the castle came under the control of Habsburg for about a century. When the War of the Austrian Succession broke out, the castle was occupied by French soldiers during the winter season in 1744. The castle was deserted by the end of the war. Soon it started to fall to ruins due to minimal, if any, maintenance.

A closer look of Hohenzollern Castle tower.
A closer look of Hohenzollern Castle tower. Schloss Hohenzollern flickr photo by Simon_sees shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The Third And Current Castle

The third castle was built on the same site and is present-day Hohenzollern Castle. The construction of this castle started in the 18th century by the Crown Prince of Prussia

He was keenly interested in knowing the roots of his family; therefore, he visited the hill Hohenzollern and the remains of the hilltop castle. He was devastated at the site where he saw nothing but the ruins of his ancestral home. It was decided to reconstruct the castle and restore his family’s heirloom residency and legacy. 

A morning countryside view of the castle.
A morning countryside view of the castle. Burg_Hohenzollern_mit_Schwarzwald2.JPG: Zollernalbderivative work: Rainer Zenz, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Construction of the present-day castle started in 1850 and was fully funded by the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Brandenburg-Prussian lines of the family of Hohenzollern. Frederick William IV of Prussia designed the structure of the castle. The construction was completed in 1867, under King William I, Frederick’s brother. After the castle was built, it was not occupied by any member of the Hohenzollern family. Instead, the castle acted primarily as an artifact or a showpiece that people came to visit. No one belonging to the German Empire lived there except for the last Crown Prince of Prussia, William, who lived at the castle for several months with his wife, Crown Princess Cecilie.

The Ghost Story Of The Castle

Listening to the gothic stories associated with old buildings, houses, palaces, and castles is always exciting and intriguing. Hohenzollern Castle is no exception and has a unique story you will love listening to during your visit to the Castle.

The beautifully made terrace of Hohenzollern Castle.
The beautifully made terrace of Hohenzollern Castle. Ralf Roletschek, GFDL 1.2, via Wikimedia Commons

The Castle’s Lord had his heart set on marrying a countess in the 1400s. The countess had a dream that a total of four eyeballs would be all that would stand between them and the Count (concerning their marriage). Since the Countess interpreted this to mean that her two children from a previous marriage were an impediment, she promptly and brutally murdered them. The count was so disgusted by her behavior that he broke off the engagement.

Aiming to make amends with God, the Countess established a monastery. She remained confined there for the remainder of her life, always wearing white. The “white woman” legend began with her sightings after her death.

Current Times

Hohenzollern today is a popular tourist destination with over 350,000 visitors every year. The Hohenzollern family still owns the castle, but no one lives there full-time except for caretakers.

The Hohenzollern family sometimes visits; whenever Prince George stays at Hohenzollern, the Prussian flag is mounted on the castle. Even with his presence, you can still visit the castle as there are no restrictions. Today many people from inside and outside of Germany enjoy visiting this beauty to spend their holidays exploring the castle.

Panoramic birdeye view of the castle.
Panoramic bird-eye view of the castle.

Interesting Hohenzollern Castle Facts

  • The Hohenzollern family has retained ownership of Hohenzollern Castle for nearly a millennium.
  • Many members of the Hohenzollern Dynasty are buried at the castle or have artifacts housed at the castle.
  • The castle covers the entire top of the mountain and has a complex structure consisting of stately buildings, military buildings, chapels, and gardens
  • The cellars or casemates at Hohenzollern are buried underneath the castle. Since the gunpowder was kept here, it was decided that an additional layer should be dug to help safeguard the Castle in case of an accident. It is fascinating to observe and go inside this stratum, which has been carved out of the rock directly beneath the Castle.

Visiting Hohenzollern Castle – Tips and Tricks

Below the castle entryway, you’ll get your first glimpse of the massive structure. The sun shines brilliantly off the stone, making it appear to be a golden color. Take a walk along the path and arrive at the “real” entrance gates to take in the magnificent panorama that surrounds the castle. It’s a very authoritative perch to reach.

The courtyard of Hohenzollern Castle.
The courtyard of Hohenzollern Castle.Hof Schloss Hohenzollern flickr photo by dojoe shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

A visit to the well-maintained grounds, two chapels, and the casemates (called “cellars” in the promotional materials) is all included in the regular admission ticket to the castle. The castle is breathtaking around the year, but if you can make it to the castle in winter, the beauty you are going to see is out of this world.

How to get to Hohenzollern Castle?

The castle sits atop a cliff in an isolated location. Hohenzollern Castle may be reached conveniently through public transportation, although there is also a large parking lot available if you plan on driving.

You can reach Hechingen Station by taking a train. There, you can transfer to either the standard Line 306 or the Traufbus Line 344, both of which will take you to the castle.
It’s about a 20-minute uphill hike from the parking lot (where the bus also stops) to the castle. Or, you can take advantage of the complimentary shuttle service that runs often throughout the day.

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Information was checked & updated on November 5, 2023.

Your visit to the castle does not cost much and can be quite economical. The entry ticket for an adult is €22 ($24 USD); for children above 12, it is €12 ($13 USD), and those 12 and under are free to enter. If you come with a family of four, with two adults and children under 17 years, you can pay a lump sum of €45 ($48 USD) to enter the Castle.

For your convenience, you can also get entry tickets online from the Castle’s official website. They also have the advantage of canceling the key and getting your money back within 24 hours of booking. The Castle is open every day from 11 am to 4:30 pm; however, there are some exceptions.

The central courtyard of the castle.
The central courtyard of the castle. Lugaresdelibro, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Things To Do At Hohenzollern Castle 

  • Everyone would love to spend a night in the castle and stay there to admire the night’s beauty. How about you stay there in your motorhome? It is possible to stay overnight if you bring a motorhome with you.
  • The castle is unusually cold, even in summer. Make sure you bring your sweaters and jackets to enjoy the scenery without being ousted by the chill in the castle.
  • Hohenzollern features Gothic architecture and a fantastic interior. Although you are not allowed to take photos inside, the interior of the castle is well worth seeing.
  • The castle is located where you can see the lush green surrounding and the view of the city from the terrace. There also has a nice restaurant, make sure you visit it too.

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

It will take around 1-2 hours to tour Hohenzollern Castle thoroughly.

Some words of advice and tips: 

As you visit the Castle, do not forget to take beautiful pictures, capturing the mighty castles and its premises. Make sure you take a photo before the eagle gate and add an excellent site to your gallery. The Castle is famous for its architecture and interior; make sure you admire the beauty of the breathtaking structure and the hands of the workers.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Hohenzollern Castle Areas

Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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