Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle


Location: Honau, Swabian Alps  Map

Constructed: 1840- 42

Open: 9am- 5:30 pm Apr- Oct

10am- 4pm Sat- Sun, public holidays Nov, Feb, March

Closed: December, January

Tel. +49 (0) 71 29 41 02

Price: 5 Euro

Official site


Description of Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle is perched on a cliff overlooking town of Honau in the Swabian Alps region of Germany, near Stuttgart.  Although the first military fortifications of Lichtenstein Castle were constructed here in the 13th century the current structure was constructed in 1840- 42 under supervision of architect Carl Alexander Heideloff. Romanticism of the 19th century inspired the construction of this pseudo- medieval citadel. In fact locally it is known as a "Neuschwanstein’s Little Brother" after famous Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.


The first Lichtenstein Castle was destroyed during Reichskriegs War of 1311 and second Burg Lichtenstein was razed by the city state of Reutlingen in 1381. Last duke of the Lichtstein family fell in a battle against the Turkish armies in 1687. Eventually Lichtenstein Castle was abandoned and left in ruins. Overtime only few remains reminded of its previous glory. In 1802 a hunting lodge was erected by King Frederick I of Württemberg. In 1840- 42 his nephew Duke Wilhelm of Urach, Count of Württemberg, constructed Schloss Lichtenstein that became known locally as "Württemberg´s fairytale castle". Presumably the name and the idea for creation of this neo- Gothic structure was inspired by novel "Lichtenstein" by Wilhelm Hauff who wrote it in 1826. Today Lichtenstein Castle is still in the possession of the Dukes of Urach, but it is open to the public. The citadel houses a museum with a large collection of medieval weapons, knights' armor and firearms from different periods.


Geographical location
The castle is located on the Alb eaves of the Swabian Alb at an altitude of 817 m above sea level. NN above the valley of the Echaz, which rises as a small tributary of the Neckar about 250 meters lower in the valley. Around 500 meters southeast of the castle are the remains of the ruins of the medieval Alt-Lichtenstein Castle ("Alter Lichtenstein").

Lichtenstein Castle was built on the site of today's castle around 1390 after the predecessor castle Alt-Lichtenstein in the neighborhood was destroyed in the Swabian City War in 1381 and then abandoned. The new Lichtenstein Castle was one of the most defensive of the late Middle Ages. The early casemates on the south side with notches for firearms are remarkable. However, its strategic importance waned over time, and in 1567 it lost its status as a ducal seat. It was now used as a forester's house. During the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), the building was taken over by the Tyrolean line of the House of Habsburg as part of the Achalm pledge. In the period that followed, the facility gradually fell into disrepair.

The last Lichtensteiner was killed in battle against the Turks in 1687. Since no other successors are known, they have since been considered extinct. The original coat of arms of the Lichtensteiners, the golden angel wing on a blue background, is still depicted on the wall in the knight's hall of the new Lichtenstein Castle.

In 1802 parts of the castle ruins were torn down and a princely forest and hunting lodge was built at the behest of Duke Friedrich II, who later became King Friedrich I of Württemberg.

In the 19th century, in the course of Romanticism, a great interest in medieval knighthood arose. Wilhelm Hauff published his novel Lichtenstein in 1826, which refers to the late medieval Lichtenstein Castle. In this novel, a piece of Württemberg regional history was popularized. The focus of the narrative is u. a. the outlawed Duke Ulrich, who was expelled from Württemberg by the Swabian Federation in 1519 and is said to have temporarily found refuge on the Lichtenstein and in the neighboring Nebelhöhle.

Wilhelm Graf von Württemberg (later Duke of Urach), a cousin of the king, was very interested in medieval history and historical buildings and art monuments. He was enthusiastic about Hauff's novel and decided to buy the Lichtenstein after he had been looking for a castle ruin on the Swabian Alb to rebuild as a summer residence for a long time. The forester's house located there at that time was acquired by Count Wilhelm in 1837 after negotiations with Urach's chief forester Philipp Freiherr von Hügel and his successor Friedrich von Mandelsloh. The count, a passionate collector of weapons, armor and paintings, needed a place to store his art objects and wanted a knight's castle that was as authentic as possible. After the forest and hunting lodge was demolished, the castle was built between 1840 and 1842 according to the plans of Carl Alexander Heideloff, under the later construction management of Johann Georg Rupp (1797-1883). In addition to Georg Eberlein, the sculptor Ernst Machold, the Reutlingen glass painter Friedrich Pfort and other students of Heideloff were involved in furnishing the palace. In addition to the core castle built on a steep rock tower above the medieval walls, an extensive outer bailey with corner bastions and gun turrets was built, which included two older farm buildings that were rebuilt. The neo-Gothic Lichtenstein is one of the first historicist palace complexes in southwest Germany, which can be counted among the best creations of romantic historicism in Germany due to its embedding as accessories in the Alb landscape and its high-quality architecture and interior design.


The new palace corresponded to the romanticizing ideas common in the 19th century about medieval knight castles and can be assigned to the neo-Gothic architectural style. Count Wilhelm sought to create a patriotic monument for the House of Württemberg, which is particularly evident in the rich, high-quality neo-Gothic interior with paintings by Georg Eberlein. After the revolution of 1848/49, Count Wilhelm, who was elevated to Duke of Urach in 1867 and was a passionate artillery officer, had the outer bailey fortifications expanded according to his own designs. In the center, a caponier was built corresponding to the German fortress at that time, with an outer structure in front, as shown in a much larger scale similar to the federal fortress Ulm. A trench was dug around the outer wall. The count tried to secure his castle and the art treasures it contained against feared attacks. Cannons were set up in the bastions and behind the walls. At the same time, Count Wilhelm tried to model the development of fortress construction from the Renaissance to his own time.

From 1899–1900 the so-called Gerobau was built in the outer bailey and finally the Fürstenbau in 1907/08, which stylistically fits into the historic complex.

Two paintings by an as yet unknown Gothic painter kept in the castle helped him to get his emergency name Meister von Schloss Lichtenstein.

Current situation
1997–1999 the second and third floors of the castle were restored, funded by the Wüstenrot Foundation and the Association for the Preservation of Lichtenstein Castle.

Today the castle can be visited for a fee as part of a guided tour (without a guided tour, tourists cannot enter the interior of the castle). Alternatively, there is the possibility of only visiting the castle courtyard, for example to get an impression of various structurally significant features such as a cannon tower and the like. a. To provide. Collectibles such as B. various historical artillery pieces (cannons) that are exhibited there.