German castles are different from the French and English in the sense that German Medieval castles tend to reflect the diversity of the country's landscape, and each is a reflection of the individual background to which it is set. Circular castles and citadels are in the north are almost always designed and constructed in such a way that makes them completely surrounded by water. Castles built in the higher hills and mountains in the southern part of Germany tend to be picturesque, with less geometric symmetry, with spires and towers sometimes seeming just plopped on. This is more the image of castles that many people hold in their mind.
A main reason for this variation in castle building styles was Germany's contact with architectural styles of surrounding cultures. In Medieval times southern Germany was often much closer to the cultures of France and Italy than to Northern Germany, and vice-versa. Add to this the activities of German rulers and knights in the Mediterranean area and in Eastern Europe. Men who returned from wars and revolts brought new ideas for castle construction after seeing a particularly sturdy enemy fortification. Another main factor in the major differences between north and south involve natural resources. The building materials easy to come by in the north weren’t necessarily so easy to find in the south. Germany had such an abundance of materials, that there was no reason for long distance trade when a perfectly viable substitute was right there.
Many German castles match their elaborately decorated outsides by decorating the interior with colorful plasters and other decorations covering the walls. Falkenstein Castle, located in Hettstedt, is a great example of German fortification. It is built up in the mountains, and was designed to be a rock that an opposing army would bash itself on. An invading army would have to fight through six different gates, with six different doors, just to reach the main part of the castle.
In stark contrast, Neuschwanstein is a castle right out of a fairy tale. King Ludwig II of Bavaria became obsessed with its construction. He kept building a bigger and bigger and more ostentatious castle, but never saw it finished as he died after being declared insane, and is actually often referred to as “Mad King Ludwig.” The castle was not designed as a royal habitation, but as a place where the King could escape from the real world. At Neuschwanstein he escaped into his personal dream world – a poetic representation of the Middle Ages.
These two castles are amazingly different: in style, appearance, and use. This reflects the interesting aspects of German castles, and of the complete disregard they felt for unity. Each castle was built for its own individual situation, which may be why so many still stand to this very day, despite the many wars that have gone through German soil.