Zwernitz, originally the hereditary seat of the Walpodes of Upper Franconia, is located in an area used for centuries by the local rulers for hunting. The keep and the tithe barn made of rusticated ashlars are part of the original Romanesque complex built in 1200. In 1338 the castle came into the possession of the Hohenzollern family. Around two centuries later the half-timbered buildings of the lower castle were added.
When the rock garden was laid out, it was designed to incorporate a view of the castle located on a natural elevation above it. From the keep there is a magnificent panoramic view of the Franconian Switzerland Natural Park.
An interesting exhibition in the castle complex documents the history of Zwernitz Castle, its inhabitants, and Sanspareil. It provides information for example about the role of the rock garden, for which the castle served as a backdrop from 1745 on. The castle’s function as part of the margravial "watch system" is also described: this progressive early warning system enabled messages to be communicated swiftly over long distances day and night.
The permanent exhibition "Hunting in the time of the margraves" documents hunting as pursued by the court in the two margraviates of Ansbach and Bayreuth at the height of its popularity in the 18th century. For all the courts of the Baroque age, hunting was an important aspect of princely representation. Almost all the margraves from the House of Hohenzollern were enthusiastic hunters.
Right next to the castle lies Sanspareil Rock Garden with its bizarre rock formations and the Oriental Building.
9 am-6 pm
1-15 October: 10 am-4 pm
(except: Easter Monday, 1 May, Whit Monday, 3 October)
closed 16 October-March
No regular guided tours
3 euros reduced
Rooms only accessible via staircase; barrier-free toilets available at the visitor centre at Zwernitz Castle
Zwernitz Castle and the Sanspareil Rock Garden, situated around 40 km west of Bayreuth near the village of Wonsees, can be reached on the road B 22 or the A 70 motorway (Schirradorf exit).
Car and bus parking spaces at the entrance to the park