There is nothing more refreshing than a road trip through historic landmarks. It gives your leisure time structure and gives you an overview of the country you are visiting. If you are there on business, it's a nice break from the routine that will let you find fresh insights for your work.
Putting together a driving tour in Europe on your own can be overwhelming, especially for first timers, but there is no need to reinvent the wheel. Use one of the many preplanned routes that exist such as Germany's Castle Road and you are bound to drive through the best of the best sights to be seen.
Castle Road is what is called a theme route: a road specially declared by the appropriate authorities to travel through an area of natural or cultural beauty. In this case, the cultural attraction is Germany's enchanting castles. The road was established in 1954, and remains a very popular attraction.
Driving Germany’s castle road starts in Mannheim, Baden-Wurttemburg in southwestern Germany, with Mannheim Palace. The road than winds past over 90 other castles and ruins of castles. It takes you from the confluence of the Rhine and the Neckar rivers and goes through the Neckar Valley, the Hohenlohe Plateau, the Franconian Heights, the Fichtelgebirge, and the Kaiserwald for 1000 kilometers of scenic beauty and historical interest. (That is about 621 miles. You can make a whole week driving your Peugeot around it!)
The trip is mostly on small back roads, but they are all marked with signs saying Burgenstraße, which is German for Castle Road. Many castles are also part of the Romance Road, which is a another theme route that goes from Wurzburg to Fussen. Don't worry, both routes are clearly marked. The roads will take you by some truly stunning rivers and landscapes. The towns around the castles are sometimes very well-preserved and have the feel of Medieval towns. You can spend quite a bit of time exploring the surrounding areas.
It should be noted here that this road also goes in to the Czech Republic. It got extended in 1994. You can now travel all the way to Prague Castle.
This is a great trip for a history buff. These castles cover the Medieval, Renaissance, Romantic and Baroque eras. There are museums showing you how each castle fits in its era and how people would have lived at each one. Some of the castles are full castlegartens with concerts, Medieval-style banquets, open-air theaters, historical markets and fancy restaurants.
You can also go easy on the history and just revel in the romance. Some palaces have been converted in to very comfortable hotels. A few of the palaces are actually inhabited by descendants of the original owners or people who bought them from the descendants, and they are only partially open to visitors. The Mannheim Palace is actually part of a university campus now. Whatever the fate of a particular castle, anyone interested in history will enjoy experiencing part of the past.
To give you some idea of how far back in time you will go, one of the castles on the route is Nuremburg Castle. This gabled and turreted beauty was first mentioned in 1105. The tower was actually built in 1377 to watch over the land when Nurnberg became an Imperial Free City. You can also see Bamberg Castle, which is a UNESCO heritage site. There's a cathedral and a museum you can spend all day in.
If you feel like going in a group, there are 7 tours that you can join through the official website. There are also plenty of other tours that will take you through at least some of the castles, and you can get a specially tailored tour if you drive yourself like many of our Peugeot Open Europe entusisasts. Yes we are biased but we believe the best way to explore this road is to hop in your rented Peugeot and drive yourself at your own pace to whichever castle interests you the most - take turns behind the wheel with friends/family members and everyone can get chance to really feel the country roads.
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