Ultimate Guide to Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein, Germany

Which is the Real Frankenstein Castle?

A reddish stone castle ruin on a hill with blue sky and white clouds
Frankenstein Castle, in Frankenstein, Germany

Welcome to the conundrum of the two Frankensteins. Everyone knows the famous 1818 novel “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, and the classic 1931 film starring Boris Karloff which introduced a creepy castle into the story. The good news is that if you’re looking for a real Frankenstein castle in Germany, you’ll find it. The confusing news is, you’ll find two!

Mary Shelley never visited either of the two Frankenstein castles or even mentions a castle in the book, but she did travel through Germany on the Rhine River four years before she penned her famous work. She would have passed relatively close to both castles, so stories or descriptions of one or the other, or both could certainly have fed her vivid imagination.

A woman with brown hair and eyes in an off-shoulder black dress looking upward into the distance
Portrait of Mary Shelley by Richard Rothwell

Today, the larger and more touristy Frankenstein Castle, located to the north in Darmstadt, embraces the “monstrous” identity, holding annual Halloween events and touting itself as the inspiration for the novel. It was even home, at one point, to a 17th century alchemist named Johann Konrad Dipple, obsessed with discovering the secret to immortality and rumored to perform weird macabre experiments on bodies retrieved from the graveyard. But somehow “Dipple’s monster” just doesn’t have the same oomph.

A stone walkway with stone walls on either side and a castle with one pointed turret on the right
This is Frankenstein Castle in Darmstadt. Home of … Dipple.

The body-meddler in Shelley’s novel is named Viktor von Frankenstein which means “Viktor from [the town of] Frankenstein” not Viktor von Darmstadt. And it just so happens that this second less-visited Frankenstein Castle is located in… wait for it… the town of Frankenstein itself!

The Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein, looming over the small town below, and its old kinda creepy cemetery is pretty evocative, and you’re much more likely to have the Frankenstein experience without crowds. As a matter of fact, we saw only one other person the whole time we were there.

Visiting Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein

You’ll find the small village of Frankenstein a little over an hour south of Frankfurt, 20 minutes east of Kaiserslautern, and 45 minutes west of Mannheim. It is located in the Palatinate Forest, which is dense, lush, and green in summertime. We visited the first week in September and the weather was beautiful.


You will find free parking located at the cemetery (of course!) at the bottom of the hill. The castle is located, as they usually are, on the top of the hill, so you will have to walk.

Hike to the Castle

The hike up to Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein is absolutely beautiful. The trail is wide and well-maintained. It winds around and switches back to avoid a steep climb, so unless you have some serious mobility issues, you should have no trouble. It’s definitely uphill, but there are places along the way to rest as well.

This is a suitable hike for kids and dogs. Helga the frenchie is just a little peanut and she made it up no problem.

There are trailside signs explaining about local wildlife, birds, the town, and the castle, but they are in German so have your Google Translate camera setting at the ready.

Weather and What to Wear

A good sneaker or sturdy walking shoe should be plenty of support for the very well-maintained trail up to the castle. Do be mindful of some very uneven steps and loose stones and make sure your soles are grippy.

You can check the weather in Frankenstein here to prepare accordingly.

The Ruins of Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein


The first record of a building on this site was a watchtower constructed between 1100 and 1150! A castle was built nearby about a hundred years later, and then expanded in the 14th and 15th centuries. Wilhelm, Johann, and Friedrich von Frankenstein gained possession of the castle in 1304 but the family died out several decades later. And if you want all the nitty-gritty and details of the eventful life and death of the castle, here you go, courtesy of Google Translate, and the signage on the trail!

Detailed translation of the history of Frankenstein castle from 1146 to 1989 showing it changing hands many times, and eventually falling to ruin during several wars.

The Ruins

The castle ruins themselves really are impressive. There are several areas which would be very steep drops so railings are in place. You can see lots of detail about how the castle would have been layed out. It’s almost like looking at a slice of castley layer cake. You’ll see window seats by the windows, and fireplaces, and even the ovens in the kitchen are clearly visible, and where floors would have been.

The view of the town is beautiful, and it is easy to let your literary imagination run wild and picture a mad scientist sitting in one of these tall rooms looking down at the village below, or performing strange experiments in dungeons.

The castle’s construction consists of blocks of the ubiquitous red sandstone found in the area. It butts up against a natural sandstone formation which acted as one of the walls.


Picnic tables are set up at the top of the hill right next to the castle. We brought a couple sandwiches and drinks and had a nice lunch.

There are no restroom facilities, water fountains, sunshade, or other buildings on premises, so plan accordingly.

This would also be a lovely spot to come spread out a blanket under a tree, and read a few chapters of Frankenstein while you soak in the surroundings.

Whether the Frankenstein Castle in Frankenstein, the Frankenstein Castle in Darmstadt, or a combination of both served to inspire Shelley to create her Gothic masterwork, you will certainly enjoy the day at this moody and enigmatic castle ruin.

A smiling couple holding a french bulldog with castle ruin and forest in the background

For other castle content from me, you can check out these posts!

Hike to Hohenecker Castle in Kaiserslautern, Germany

Explore Fascinating Nanstein Castle in Landstuhl, Germany

Discover Charming Hohenbaden Castle Overlooking Baden-Baden

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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