The rocky castles of Dahn – shaped by nature and human hand

What a view!

From the viewing platform at the top of the castle keep of Alt-Dahn Castle, your eyes sweep across tree-covered hills. They shimmer in countless shades of green, reflecting the golden sunshine, or dark and foreboding in the wind and the rain. The forest is beautiful in all weathers. And at all times of year.

Here and there, you can glimpse the red sandstone cliffs amongst the treetops. They give the region around the little town of Dahn its nickname of Dahner Felsenland, literally ‘Dahn cliff country’.

It is difficult to imagine that it was all desert 250 million years ago. Sand and dust and mud have been formed into bizarre rock formations and baroque towers by millions of years of raging waters. They are real natural works of art.

The Altdahn castle ruins belongs to the rocky castles of Dahn, Palatinate

The Altdahn castle ruins belongs to the rocky castles of Dahn, Palatinate

The red sandstone cliffs were also a gift from nature to our forefathers, and formed the foundations for their castles.

One of the largest groups of castles in the Palatinate sits on five clifftops that are an average of 30 metres wide: the clifftop castles of  Alt-Dahn, Grafendahn und Tanstein

They were laboriously carved into the unfinished rock in the 12th and 13th centuries. The castles have changed hands over the years and been destroyed in various wars, before finally being blasted to ruins during the Nine Years’ War in 1689.

But what amazing ruins they are!

“There are very few castles with such an exemplary symbiosis of cliff and man-made walls,” explains Peter Blank, the tenant of Alt-Dahn castle, with a smile.

Where do the cliffs hewn by nature end? Where do the castle walls chiselled by human hand begin? The staircases and corridors, cisterns and fountains, chambers and towers are the perfect combination of nature and medieval architecture.

Peter Blank is responsible for the maintenance of the castles. He makes sure that visitors can make their way safely through the narrow corridors and chambers, scramble safely up the steep staircases and fearlessly breathe in the aromatic air of the Palatinate Forest from the platforms.

The scenic Altdahn castle ruins, Palatinate

View of the scenic Altdahn castle ruins, Palatinate

The castles are owned by the General Directorate for Cultural Heritage Rhineland‑Palatinate, which looks after historical and cultural sites of this kind and makes them accessible to all.

A visit to the Dahn clifftop mountains is an adventure. A journey back through history, a test of courage for those who are not great with heights and a search for evidence for scientists of all ages.

Storms have turned the cliffs into a giant honeycomb or sponge structure. The stone is red from the iron oxide it contains. Sandstone is a very popular building material across the whole region. Many churches, bridges and even farmyards in the wine-making villages boast the warm yellow and red tones.

The evening sun reflected on the red cliffs and the walls of the Dahn clifftop castles is a desperately romantic sight.

Peter Blank and his wife have lived at Alt-Dahn for many years. They run a little restaurant serving little Palatinate specialities. “Living in a castle is really special. I grew up here. My parents had a restaurant here. I feel free here and hope I can stay for a long time,” reports Peter Blank.

On some summer evenings, the ruins serve as a venue for cultural events. So there can be a moment when the visitors high up on the clifftop castles come close to the stars.

The "Laemmerfelsen" near Dahn, Palatinate

Amazing view of the "Laemmerfelsen" near Dahn, Palatinate

More recommended excursions for culture and nature lovers in Palatinate:

Mehr Infos zu den kulturellen Höhepunkten in Rheinland-Pfalz

Erfahre alles zu den Veranstaltungen, Ausstellungen, Sehenswürdigkeiten und Ausflugszielen der Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe Rheinland-Pfalz.

Dahner Rundwanderweg


18,7 km

7:30 h
The 18.6 kilometers long Dahner circular walk for over narrow paths and varied forest trails through…

Berwartstein Castle

Erlenbach bei Dahn Location: Near Erlenbach (Palatinate).The only inhabited castle complex in the Palatinate. The impressive 12th century Wasgau Castle is perched on a…

Landeck Castle

Klingenmünster THE HIGHEST KEEP IN THE PALATINATEThe angular keep of the castle, built in 1200, has been preserved in its original condition. From its 25 metre high…

Nanstein Castle

Landstuhl The imposing ruins of Nanstein Castle are the landmark of the Sickingen town of Landstuhl, visible from afar. Nanstein Castle, which was built in the…

Burgmuseum auf Burg Alt-Dahn

Dahn The oldest parts of the largest castles in the Palatinate date from the 11th century.

Burgruine Neudahn

Dahn Neudahn castle ruin/D  The image of Neudahn Castle is dominated by its looming double battery tower dating from the 16th century. The castle complex…

Dahner Felsentor

Dahn On the ascent or descent to Neudahn Castle you can pass through this rock gate.


Dahn Very good climbing rock with wonderful tours of medium difficulty.

Trifels Castle

Annweiler am Trifels Trifels Castle was an important imperial fortress during the time of the Staufer Emperors. It sits above the small town of Annweiler in the south of…

Villa Ludwigshöhe Castle

Edenkoben The villa is closed for extensive renovation work until the summer of 2024. For tours of the site, please go to www.schloss-villa-ludwigshoehe.deKing…

Hardenburg Castle and Fortress Ruins

Bad Dürkheim The mighty Hardenburg, built in the 13th century, is one of the largest castle ruins in the country. It was a castle, fortress and magnificent…