Discover Charming Hohenbaden Castle Overlooking Baden-Baden!

The ruins of Hohenbaden castle look down over the ancient Celtic, then Roman settlement of Baden Baden in Southwest Germany’s famous Black Forest. But of all its past lives, Baden-Baden remains best known for its incarnation as a fancy-shmancy 19th-century gambling and spa town. Once referred to as “the summer capital of Europe,” notable people of the day would come there to hobnob, do business, soak, drink from the hot springs, and hit the casino at night.

A cluster of small houses with red roofs under a forested hill. Atop the hill sits a brown stone castle ruin with several prominent towers

“Baden,” in old German, means “baths” and any town you see containing that word likely has hot springs and thermal baths close by. It also means that humans have probably been there for a long time, because nothing made ancient people want to put down roots somewhere more than a hot bath! And to distinguish it from other “Badens” in the area, they named it twice!

Baden-Baden is still an upscale spa town, filled with beautiful buildings, celebrities and aristocrats, no less than 7 Michelin star restaurants, high-end designer shops and auction houses, theatrical and musical events, and expensive cars. But there’s more to the town than just hot water and wealth. It’s got a great old castle ruin, and I’m always up for that!

Hohenbaden Castle (Schloss Hohenbaden) History

The Hohenbaden Castle construction began in about 1100AD under Herman II, and was the seat of the Margraves of Baden for more than 400 years. The oldest part of the castle, the upper castle, is built on the side of the Battert hill, which has beautiful sandstone formations. The hill also serves as a natural fortification on the back side of the castle complex. Margrave Bernard I (1372–1431) then built the gothic lower castle. Then Margrave Jacob expanded it even further in the mid-1400s. At its largest and most glorious, the flourishing castle had more than a hundred rooms!

A landscape taken from high perspective. A cliff with vertical sandstone pillars on the left gives way to a large wooded area with forested mountains behind
The sandstone formation of Battert Hill on the left

Eventually a new castle was built in a more convenient less uphill location, down in the town of Baden-Baden itself. At that point everyone pulled up stakes and moved to the new more comfortable digs in 1479. Hohenbaden Castle gradually fell into disuse and disrepair. And unlike most castles in the area, the thing that dealt this castle its fatal blow was not the French – it was a great fire at the end of the 16th century.

Hohenbaden Castle Parking

The castle has a nice little parking lot located practically at the front door, so you can drive up the long meandering road up the hill instead of hiking. And you will understand why the idea of having a place to live down in the town appealed so much to the Margraves!

A birdseye view of a caslte ruin complex on the left with a small parking area to the right
You can see the free parking area in the upper left

Parking is free, and so is admission to the castle! It’s just a quick walk of a couple hundred feet up a slight incline to the entrance. But before you think there’s no climbing involved, you’ll find out very quickly that Hohenbaden Castle is a house of stairs!

Hohenbaden Castle Ruins

The Rooms

Today the castle ruins linger in a lovely state between renovated and left to ruin. There’s just enough access (and sturdy hand rails) to allow you to climb around and really get a sense of how the castle operated. You can imagine the kitchens bustling with activity, a huge table set in the dining room, soldiers on the ramparts looking for suspicious activity. There’s even a tiny little chapel.

But nature has also been allowed to move in. A huge tree grows up in the center, and everything has a wild and windswept romanticism that all good castle ruins should have.

There are large open rooms with towering walls where other stories used to sit, windows that look out over other parts of the castle, and the surrounding forest, arched doorways, and little staircases at every turn. I felt like a kid exploring all the nooks and crannies, and little rooms.

Making it to the Top

After the first few stone staircases, you’ll find a door that leads to another staircase with wooden treads. The final level that takes you to the top of the Upper Castle is pretty much a ladder. It leads up to a railed rooftop with a 360-degree view that is absolutely spectacular! The town of Baden Baden is far below on one side, and on the other the rolling dark mountains of the Black Forest stretch out as far as the eye can see to the south. You can also look down with a great birdseye view of the lower castle.

There are binoculars set up so you can have fun exploring details of the view. You’ll have to deposit a 1 Euro coin, or two 50-cent pieces.

The Basement

And don’t forget to check out the basement! The stairs down are close to the entrance and we almost missed them because we were so busy looking up! The stone basement comes with the obligatory water dripping from the ceiling, and still has the original stalls used to hold livestock. There’s also a large opening to the outside.


The Beer Garden (Dog-friendly!)

Right at the entrance gate to the castle is a cute beer garden that serves up bistro fare, beer, wine, and refreshing Aperol Spritzes. The beer garden is open seasonally and we were there in winter so didn’t get to try it out. This I can tell you though, there’s no beating the atmosphere and the view!

They also go out of their way on the website to say “we have a heart for animals, and your pet is also our welcomed guest!” Here’s the website for the Biergarten Altes Schloss.


The doorway to the very far left is the restrooms

There is a nice and very clean restroom available right by the entrance, even during the off-season when the biergarten is closed.

Weather and What to Wear

There is definitely some serious wind potential at the top of the castle, but for most of the climb you’ll be surrounded by walls and windbreaks. Uneven stone stairs mean you should definitely wear sturdy shoes that fit well and have decent tread on the bottom.

You can check out the weather in Baden-Baden here to best plan what you’ll need.

A Great Visit

This was a truly enjoyable exploration of what I can say is one of my favorite castle ruins! It takes a while to really poke around and see all there is to see, which makes for an interesting and exciting hour or two. Or more if you take advantage of the biergarten!

There are definitely a lot of stairs, and the ruin itself would be a challenge for anyone with mobility challenges. Otherwise, the convenience of parking right at the castle means you won’t have used all your energy slogging up the hill, and you can start climbing stairs and exploring!

I highly recommend Hohenbaden Castle as a must-see point of interest in Baden-Baden, and a charming way to spend an afternoon!

More Castles!

For other great castle ruins, check out my posts:

Ultimate Guide to Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein Germany

Hike to Hohenecker Castle in Kaiserslautern Germany

Explore Fascinating Nanstein Castle in Landstuhl Germany

Stahleck Castle in Bacharach: A Gorgeous Hike with a Dark Past

Explore the Astounding Schlossberg Caves and Castle Ruins in Homburg

A Real-Life Fairytale Castle in Germany – Discover Miraculous Burg Eltz

Saarbrücken Castle – Explore This Fascinating Underground World

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