When Is the Best Time
Wegelnburg is one of the most fascinating castle ruins I’ve ever visited; absolutely breathtaking and picturesque. If you want to know if it is worth coming here, definitely YES. Wegelnburg is at least as spectacular as shown in my pictures.
The ruins of this ancient imperial fortress from the 12th and 13th centuries are located one hour drive west of Karlsruhe in Germany, close to the French border. This newly renovated castle ruin offers the most breathtaking views of all castles in this area. It is a popular spot for photographers for the amazing sunrise.
Wegelnburg stretches on a mountain called Sindelsberg at an elevation of 572 meters. Due to this location, you get 360° panoramic views of the forests and the North Vosges Biosphere Reserve. Wegelnburg is the highest castle complex in the Palatinate.
It was restored in the last years and finally reopened this 2023. They did excellent work here, making it safer to access the photogenic ruins.
Parking for Wegelnburg Ruin
The closest parking and also a good start for the four-castle hike is the Nothweiler car park. Campers are allowed to stay here overnight for free. If you plan to hike the four-castle route, you can also park at Burg Fleckenstein, another well-preserved castle ruin. Parking Nothweiler Google Maps just 50 m before the France border
How to Get to Wegelnburg Ruin?
Nothweiler the closest village close to France is a little remote located and getting here by public transport is impossible. You need a vehicle to get here. The closest bigger city is Pirmasens, 30 km northwest of Wegelnburg and the closest lovely town is Schönau.
It takes 45 minutes to one hour from the parking for the steep trail through the forest to the top of Sindelsberg and the castle ruins. The path leads on a soft forest floor and is very well marked. If you want to visit Wegelnburg only, plan roughly three hours for hiking and enjoying the spectacular landscape from the top of the ruin.
There are three additional routes where you pass by Wegelnburg. We hiked twice to Wegelnburg and the same path back to the car park. However, we plan to return for the 4 Castles Tour.
1 Four Castles Circular Hike – 4 Burgen Tour
This is an excellent transborder trail between Germany and France. This trail is 9,5 km long and combines some of the most fascinating castles in less than four hours. Wegelnburg is the first of the four castles along this hike. It is worth seeing what is left of the ruins, which were renovated in the last years and closed to the public.
The track continues past the "Kaiser-Wilhelm-Stein", which is a Memorial Stone slightly uphill to the castle ruin Hohenbourg in France, then on to the castle ruin Löwenstein - France and the mighty Fleckenstein in France, where you are able to have a break in the Café which offer warm and cold meals.
- Chateau de Hohenbourg
Built at the beginning of the 13th century, the ruin is located on the 550 m high castle hill. The castle was destroyed in 1680, as well as Wegelnburg. Nevertheless, a very well-preserved ruin where you can climb up ladders for great views of the surroundings and Wegelnburg.
Built in the 13th century, the ruin is also located on the castle hill. The castle was built on two sandstone rocks above a gorge. It was destroyed already in the 14th century because it was used as a refuge for thieves.
Well-preserved castle ruins from the 12th century and one of the largest Vosges castles with a length of 92 m and 8 m width.
2 Salztrippler Tour
This is a 4-hour - half-day tour of 12 km, starting in Rumbach and passing by Wegelnburg.
Felsenland – Sagenweg
This circular trail is 86 km long and has more than 2,700 m in elevation gain and loss. You must take the train at the beginning or at the end of the trail. Curious? More information in this flyer is also in English and French.
Best Daytime for Wegelnburg
Wegelnburg is famous for its magnificent sunrise, and due to the panoramic views from the top of the castle, it is always spectacular also on a cloudy day or in the winter. Sunrise time Wegelnburg
Top Tip for a Long Weekend
Wegelnburg is located in the “Dahner Felsenland” a fantastic area with hiking trails for all fitness levels through lush forests and along huge rock formations. It is only a stone's throw to Alsace and Burg Fleckenstein, another castle across the border in France which is also worth visiting. I suggest spending three or four nights here in Schönau to explore more of the region.
- The castle is named after a vassal of the emperor “Woeglenburc”
- It was built in three stages an upper, middle, and outer castle. Unfortunately, nothing of the upper castle walls remained. This part got utterly destroyed.
- Built as a fortification in the 13th century but soon after destroyed by the French citizens of Strasbourg.
- The castle was rebuilt, and parts of the village and the castle were pledged to the German Empire, the Elector of the Palatine, for 957 guilders in 1330.
- One of the famous owners of Wegelnburg was the knight Schwarz Reinhard von Sickingen (1374-1439).
- In 1417 the castle became the possession of the Duke of Zweibrücken.
- Until the French Revolution, it belonged to the same family.
- The castle was burnt to the grounds by the French general Montclar in 1680
- Today the Wegelnburg belongs to Rhineland-Palatinate and has been under the palace administration since 1963.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
The ruins tower over the woods in Germany's largest contiguous forest territory on brittle sandstone, the reason for the restorations that lasted for years. Although there is not so much left of the castle, it is enough to give you an impression of the once very complex castle complex.
We visited Wegelnburg in the late afternoon and the next morning for the sunrise. We spent the night in our van at the Nothweiler car park for hiking.
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