Hike up to the ruins of Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein, Germany. The castle lays no claim to Mary Shelley’s famous novel; it is just a simple castle in a simple village. You might call it the Other Frankenstein Castle. But these castle ruins are still worth the visit.
This is not the Burg Frankenstein thought to have inspired Mary Shelley’s famous novel Frankenstein. That would be the Burg Frankenstein not too far from here in Mühltal outside of Darmstadt.
No, this Burg Frankenstein sits on a spur above the village of Frankenstein in Rhineland-Palatinate. It derives its name from the village it protects.
Frankenstein Castle History
A defensive tower was erected around 1100 by the monastery at nearby Limburg Abbey, who were in charge of security on the road to Speyer, Durkheim, and Worms. The monastery commissioned the counts of Leiningen with overseeing the defensive tower in Frankenstein in 1205. By the beginning of the 13th century, the counts had expanded the tower into a castle.
The castle fell into decline beginning in the second half of the 15th century. It suffered damage during the struggles between Prince-elector Frederick I and Count Palatine Ludwig I of Zweibruken. The castle then suffered further damage in 1512 when the Count of Nassau conquered it on orders of emperor Maximilian I. In 1560, during the German Peasants’ War, the castle way destroyed and considered uninhabitable.
The castle chapel must have still been in usable condition though, because there is evidence that the ruins were used to accommodate French troops in the War of Spanish Succession, and a service was held in the chapel in 1703.
The ruins were restored in 1988-1989, exposing the foundations of a previously unknown shield wall.
Getting to Burg Frankenstein
Getting to Frankenstein Castle is fairly easy, but be prepared for a good hike.
The trail begins at the Parkplatz Burgruine Frankenstein, where you can park. Follow the signs for “Burg” and cross over the railway tunnel. The trail climbs through a series of switchbacks up the hill, giving off great views of the village below, for about a mile.
You’ll reach an entrance to the lower part of the castle that you can go in and explore. It was about here that we were startled to find one of the goats that roams the side of the hill (he snuck up on us and bleated at us, so I was literally startled).
To get to the rest of the castle, continue climbing the hill. There will be a covered pavilion with some informational signs at the top of the hill. You can then enter the upper portion of the castle, and even climb all the way to the top of a tower.
I have also heard that you can access a separate trail behind the chapel and cemetery at the Protestantische Kirche Frankenstein. I believe this would make for a longer hike than the route I took.
Visiting Frankenstein Castle
The castle is free to visit and is open all day, every day. As long as you can make it up the steep hill, you can visit this castle whenever you want.
My family and I explored Frankenstein Castle on our Christmas trip to Kaiserslautern. Since the trail to access the ruins is always open, this makes for a great activity on Christmas Eve when most other things are closed.
Ready to visit Frankenstein, Germany? Plan your trip with these tips.
- Book Your Flight: Find the cheapest flights using Skyscanner, my favorite flight search engine.
- Find Accommodation: You can find top hotels in Frankenstein using Booking.com.
- Start Packing: Check out my packing list resources so you’re prepared for your trip.
Have you explored Frankenstein Castle in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany? Let me know in the comments below!