With evidence of Roman occupation, it’s highly likely that GRÜNWALD CASTLE, just 12 kilometers to the south of Munich, was originally a defensive military watchtower.
This is certainly one of the lesser known Castles in Bavaria and astoundingly, is rarely mentioned in any Munich guide book despite its significance as an important medieval monument in the area.
However, here at Absolute Munich, we certainly believe that it’s worth a mention, and if you have the time, a visit.
Having been to Grunwald Castle ourselves on more than one occasion, it’s evident that there is, and has always been, little detailed information available in English about the castle and its history.
Hopefully, therefore, this blog post will heighten your interest in the area and of the building, and that it will inspire you to make the short trek out to Grunwald Castle in order to take a peek yourself.
We hope you enjoy the read.
History of Grunwald Castle
As noted previously all evidence suggests the Castle at Grünwald was almost certainly a Roman outpost.
The Romans German frontier is well documented as having reached as far north as the Rhine and the Danube. Throughout “Germania” they developed a defensive line, within what they classed as the Holy Roman Territory, which was over 500 kilometers long and was inclusive of more than 900 watchtowers.
Records are a little hazy as to the ownership, condition, and function of the building from the withdrawal of the Romans in the early 5th century and right up to the early 12th Century.
At this point, GRÜNWALD CASTLE was most certainly under the ownership of the House of Andechs when the building was inhabited by the ruling Andechs Counts.
After the House of Andechs was implicated in the assassination of the then German King, Philip of Swabia, the Counts of Andech’s power was diminished and Grunwald Castle thereafter passed into the possession of the German Dynasty that was the House of Wittelsbach (German: Haus Wittelsbach).
Surrounded by forests (Grünwald is actually German for “Green Forest”) the ensuing centuries then saw the versatile property become an important country residence and Ducal Hunting Lodge for the Wittelsbach family.
Most of the building you’ll tour at Grunwald today remains from the 15th Century renovations that were completed for the wedding of Albert IV, Duke of Bavaria with Kunigunde of Austria, although they eventually married in Innsbruck at the Hofburg residence instead.
During the Wittelsbach Dynasty ownership, some pivotally important Bavarians resided within the castle walls from time to time including perhaps most famously Louis IV, who was also the Holy Roman Emperor between 1328 and 1347.
Louis II, Duke of Bavaria (Louis the Strict or in German Ludwig der Strenge), Matilda of Habsburg, and Louis X, Duke of Bavaria was actually born here in Grunwald Castle in 1495 were other notable residents.
Up until 1872, Castle Grunwald was used also as both a prison and as a powder magazine (a gunpowder storage facility), and by this time much of the building had fallen into disrepair as its use by Bavarian nobility has drastically declined.
Predominant sections of the castle were damaged during the 17th and 18th centuries thanks to undermining courtesy of the Isar River, and almost half the castle had to be demolished during the period. The plush residential quarters and ornate Chapel of St George were lost during this time.
After the purchase by private ownership in the late 1800’s Grunwald Castle achieved almost 100 years of anonymity, before finally falling into the state’s hands when purchased by the Free State of Bavaria in 1976.
What To Do At Castle Grünwald
Whilst you probably won’t spend an entire day here at the castle alone, an exploration of the castle, town, and surrounding forests offer some wonderful insights into Bavarian politics and nobility, medieval life in Bavaria, amazing views over the River Isar and valley, and some beautiful wooded river and forest hikes.
This is a real “hidden gem” of a castle, tranquil away from the busy city and easy to get to via the S7 from the city centre.
It’s quite small but has bags of charm. Make sure you leave time for a walk in the woods and along the Isar River below where the river water is usually very clear, and often you’ll spot trout swimming about.
- Museum Grünwald – The museum here at Grunwald is actually a part of the larger Bavarian State Archaeological Collection (Archäologische Staatssammlung). Whilst small, the museum’s insights into everyday medieval Bavarian life can be a fascinating journey. All exhibits are documented in German as you would expect for a regional museum, so be sure to utilse your smartphone and the good old Google Translate App if you’re a native English speaker.
- Castle Tower – For access to the castle keep (or Donjon) there is an extra nominal fee and you’ll be rewarded with some very good 360 degree views across the local area, and on clear days, you’ll see all the way to the alps and the mighty Zugspitze in the far distance. Also, check out the “little tower” in the northeast corner of the building.
- Courtyard and Fountain – The courtyard’s most notable point of interest is the deep fountain which dates from the middle ages. Made entirely of Tufa Stone (a type of limestone) the fountain is well maintained for its obvious age.
- The Grunwald Forest – Aside from the wonderful hiking and cycling available just below the castle along the Isar River, which is part of the local Grünwalder Forst as well, you’ll find the main forest to the east of the town. Here the forest stretches north and joins up to the Perlacher Forst, a favourite Munich Hiking destination.
- Grünwald Castle Cafe and Shop – Small, but only needs to be small. Provides refreshments and a limited range of souvenirs.
- Castle Bees – A number of recently interned bee colonies are on site and you can purchase the (very) local honey in the shop. Look out for the busy honey bees pollinating the flowers in Grünwald’s Castle gardens.
Getting to Castle Grünwald
With easy access to Grunwald from Munich, it’s no wonder this is such a popular day trip for Müncheners. Tram is your best option for public transport but we highly recommend cycling out the Grunwald.
By Tram: From Rosenheimer Platz the Route 25 Tram trip is just 27 minutes to Derbolfinger Pl. in Grunwald with trams departing every 15 minutes or so.
By Train: It’s not really a direct train route and it’ll actually take you longer than the tram to complete the journey, but you can get there by taking the S7 overland train to Höllriegelskreuth, then walk across the river to Grunwald.
By Cycle: An easy 45 minute cycle taking on some breathtaking scenery. There are cycleways all along the river.
By Foot: The walk out along the Isar from Munich will take you about 2.5 hours at a normal walking speed from central Munich
Grunwald Castle also hosts a number of specialty days throughout each year including Bird of Prey Days, Music and theatre Recitals, Crafting and Christmas Decoration Days plus quite a few more special events.
Address: Zeillerstraße 3, 82031 Grünwald bei München, Germany
Hours of Operation: 10am to 5pm – CLOSED on Monday & Tuesday
Entrance Fee: At the time of writing it was €3.50 to access the castle, museum and tower.
Phone: +49 89 6413218
Castle Tours: On request only
Grunwald Forest Video
Check out how beautiful the surrounding area can be in the Autumn on this short video from YouTuber SIBC
Castle Grünwald: Well worth it!
Grünwald itself is an interesting place and is also the location for Bavaria Film Studios, one of Europe’s largest film companies.
Being the most wealthy Municipality in the entire country of Germany, Grunwald is home to a number of sporting stars, wealthy business people and actors. If you’re up to speed with German A-Listers then you’ll likely spot some here.
Overall the small moated castle of Grunwald is well worth a visit with its well-designed museum that includes specific exhibits and hands-on activities for kids like medieval clothing dress-up and ancient board game play.
The medieval castle and museum are generally always pretty quiet, especially in comparison to museums in central Munich. From the castle tower above you can take in the views into the Isar valley and all the way to the Zugspitze in the distance.
If you want to find out more about life in medieval Bavaria then this is a castle worth the trip. And if you like cycling, the route out from Munich along the river valley is stunning to say the least, and one of the main reasons as to how we came across Grunwald in the first place.
We hope you enjoyed the read and we’d love it if you’d consider checking out some of our other similar articles such as our write up on Seefeld Castle, or perhaps the wonderful Linderhof Castle is more your speed.
Cheers and thanks for reading our experiences of Burg Grünwald