Sigh. Germany. Land of castles and palaces, history, and the splendour of days gone by. While you might think of Neuschwanstein as the epitome of castles in this country, many historically conscious Germans will just give you a know-it-all smile. Whereas the Disney-like toy castle on the foothills of the alps is actually not all that old (it was opened just two years before the town’s public train station), there are actually thousands of castles, palaces, and manor-houses of considerable age spread across the country. Keeping that in mind, what good would a trip to the German capital be without a visit to at least one or two of those historically significant mansions? Luckily, there are numerous beautiful castles and palaces in and around Berlin, waiting for you to explore them. As they make for a splendid day trip, we from Industriepalast Hostel have put together our favorites for you:
Right in the city
Feel like doing some time-travelling to more splendorous times? Not a problem, there is no need to leave the capital even. Berlin has quite a few impressive palaces to offer. The most popular one: Charlottenburg Palace. Sophie Charlotte, first Queen of Prussia, had this rococo shanty built in the late 17th Century to spend her summers surrounded by the most famous poets, thinkers, and composers of her time. She died young and the manor was named after her, just like the entire borough two hundred years later. You can visit the palace using the provided audio guide, but even a stroll through the beautiful baroque garden (admission free!) is worth the visit.
A little less palatial, yet even more stately is Spandau Citadel, one of the most important and well-preserved fortresses from renaissance times in all of Europe. It’s oldest part, Juliusturm tower, dates back to the early 13th century, making it the capital’s oldest structure. The citadel is surrounded by an impressive moat; and not only can you explore the stronghold, there are also regular knight’s tournaments, renaissance fairs, and concerts happening here.
On the other (eastern) side of town you can find a real jewel that may well be called an insider’s tip still: Köpenick Palace. Located in the centre of the charming suburb of the same name and enclosed by a nice little baroque garden right on the river, the manor is a significant remnant from the Hohenzollern electors of Brandenburg. There’s a pretty palace chapel as well as an impressive collection of artworks of renaissance, baroque, and rococo style. Off the beaten touristy track!
Baroque splendour: Potsdam
There are no less than 17 palaces in the charming capital of Brandenburg province a.k.a. “Berlin’s little neighbour”: Potsdam. Sanssouci Park with Orangery Palace, New Palace, and, most importantly, Sanssouci Palace may well be named the “Versailles of Prussia”. Baroque splendour and classicist luxury go hand in hand here, and the French formal park in combination with amazing artworks from different periods leaves quite an impression.
Two other interesting places are the English country-style Cecilienhof Palace, venue of the history-making Potsdam Conference of 1945, and neo-Gothic Babelsberg Palace, which looks like something straight out of Game of Thrones. By the way: The Palaces and Parks of Berlin and Potsdam are so significant historically and culturally, that they were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.
The dark ages of Brandenburg
You want to go back in time even further? What you want is a real stronghold, with thick walls and proud towers, home to the ghosts of knights and ladies? Then it is time to do a day trip to the Berlin hinterlands, or, more precisely, to the triangle of castles of Hoher Fläming. Three well-preserved medieval castles sit enthroned over most beautiful landscapes and invite you to dwell in ages long gone by. Rabenstein Castle is said to be the best-preserved castle of the High Middle Ages in all of Brandenburg. There are guided tours to the fascinating interior as well as a more-than-decent restaurant waiting for you. Not far-off is Eisenhardt Castle with its impressive ringfort and fortified towers, overlooking the charming town of Bad Belzig. And proud stronghold Ziesar Castle is one of very few remaining Bishop’s residences in the state. You can visit all three castles as part of a guided tour and thanks to interesting exhibitions, good restaurants, and the beautiful surroundings they are always worth a visit. Getting there will take you no more than two hours by both car and public transportation from Industriepalast Hostel Berlin.
Pictures: Datei: #164599633 | Urheber: Patryk Kosmider, Datei: #127144320 | Urheber: Mike Mareen, Datei: #54365138 | Urheber: ArTo
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.