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Germany: Ein, zwei, many castles?


Germany may have more castles than any other country in Europe—but there's no real way yet to validate the claim. It may have the highest...but it can't be proven. And no one can yet document which German castle is the oldest.

But all that's going to change: The German Castle Club, or Deutsche Burgvereinigung, is hard at work counting, measuring, researching and digging to complete an accurate and complete list. The goal is to know every existing castle, castle ruin or location of castles now completely gone.

But don't hold your breath: the head of the project, Reinhard Friedrich, says there's probably another ten years of work ahead, with a small staff and a cost of €2-5,000 for each district studied.

“All the castles in Rhineland-Palatinate, North Rhine-Westphalia and the Saarland are already completely recorded. We're almost finished in Lower Saxony, too. In Hesse we only have six counties left to cover. We are also planning to visit Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Saxony-Anhalt and Thuringia."  

Friedrich says there are other castle lists on the internet, but they are neither complete nor entirely verified. The DBV project includes on-the-ground visits, details of age, type, function, building materials, and more. Even so, not all of the 25,000 or more castles still exist. In some cases, literature and other sources can lead to remains of foundations, but in others, there's no clear evidence of location. Some were destroyed as long as 700 years ago.

Photo: Heidelberg Castle (PHeymont/TravelGumbo)

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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