Slow German podcast #185 has the following sentence.

Sie lebten auf einem Schloss und waren adelig.

Why is it "auf einem Schloss" and not "in einem Schloss"?

2 Answers 2


auf einem Schloss

This includes the surrounding land and buildings, e.g. you could sleep in a barn, and still be "auf einem Schloss".

in einem Schloss

You're literally inside the castle building.

It's the same for "auf/in einem Bauernhof".


You can use both.

Sie leben auf einem Schloss.

Das Schloss is a concept. It's a chic form of living.

Sie leben in einem Schloss.

Das Schloss is a building.

(Note Austrian German is more picky and insists on in AFAIK.)

  • I can't follow your differentiation of "Schloss" as a concept versus a building, in this context. (I do well understand the principal idea of a concept versus a building, but I don't see it in this context.) Both "sie lebt auf dem Schloss" and "sie lebt im Schloss" for me are related to living in a certain type of building. Sep 2, 2019 at 7:52
  • Auf einem Schlossberg would fit. They don't live on the roof. But if someone said that, I assumed they lived in one of the servant's houses, not in the actual Schloss.
    – Janka
    Sep 2, 2019 at 10:13
  • Where I grew up (Southern Germany) there is, in oral language, no practical difference between "auf" and "in" for "Schloss". - Wo wohnt die Gräfin? - Die Gräfin wohnt im Schloss da drüben / Die Gräfin wohnt auf dem Schloss da drüben. - Okay, well, you could perhaps argue that im Schloss would mean the building in the narrower sense, whereas auf dem Schloss could also refer to the entire complex including courtyard, agricultural buildings and what ever. Sep 2, 2019 at 23:22
  • For me (Ruhrgebiet, Germany) in Schloss Lembeck leben would mean 'dort wohnen', and auf Schloss Lembeck leben would be 'hochherrschaftlich leben' (to live lordly). Sep 3, 2019 at 9:29

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