Perched on a rock, high above the valley, the Lichtenstein Castle is of true beauty and seems to come straight out a fairytale.
The Lichtenstein Castle resemble a medieval Castle but was actually built in the middle of the 19th Century. It’s not that old but still is everything you can hope for, if you are looking for a romantic gateway.
The History of the Lichtenstein Castle
The first Lichtenstein Castle was probably built around the 11-12th century. It was destroyed a first time during the Reichskrieg’s War of 1311. Rebuilt, it was once again destroyed in 1381. After that, it was left to ruin.
A second Castle was built in 1390 and was considered to be one of the best fortified fortresses of the Middle Ages. In 1567, it lost its status as ducal seat and deteriorated until it was dismantled in 1802 and replaced by a hunting lodge.
This was a quite common fate for medieval castle, as with time, they tend to loose their defensive purpose and their rudimentary comfort were not appreciated anymore. Some lucky castles were upgraded with ‘modern’ amenities, bigger windows and so forth, but a lot of them felt in disgrace and were dismantled to make space for other more comfortable residences.
In 1837 Count Wilhelm of Württemberg bought the hunting lodge and the surrounding estate and apparently inspired by the novel “Lichtenstein” by Wilhelm Hauff, had the current Castle built. It took only 2 years to build it and it was inaugurated in 1842.
The Architecture of the Lichtenstein Castle
The Count of Wilhelm of Württemberg hired the architect Heideloff Count Wilhelm of Württemberg, to built this medieval style Knight’s Castle. The construction used the foundation of the 2nd castle, built in the 14th century, which can be distinguished in some areas.
Adjoining buildings were also constructed at that time and later and a curtain wall was build around the Castle ground. The Barbican (fortified gateway) was added in 1857.
The Count of Wilhelm of Württemberg used the Castle to house his private art collections and furnished the rooms of the Castle himself.
The Lichtenstein Castle is a Neo-Gothic style castle. Neo-Gothic refers to an architectural mouvement which sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time.
Just to give you an idea, in case you need it, palaces like Versailles in France or Charlottenburg in Berlin were built in the 17th and 18th century and if you can picture those places, and compare their architecture to the Lichtenstein Castle, you understand how different they are! Building a Neo-Gothic style castle in the 19th century was probably like building a tiny wooden house now: a bold statement!
The Visit of the Lichtenstein Castle
The visit of the Lichtenstein Castle can only be done with a guided tour and is organized like clock work. You will wait for your turn on the bridge and once your time slot is up, you will enter the Castle by the barbican making your way to the first floor.
You will get to visit, amongst other rooms, the armory, where medieval weapons and armors are displayed, a little chapel with stained glass from the 15th & 16th century and incredibly beautifully decorated rooms including the knight’s hall, with its wood paneled walls and painted ceiling.
You will learn about the bullet in the mirror… and in the drinking parlor, you will see a collection of Venetian and Bohemian drinking glasses including a 2 meter long champagne glass!
Unfortunately pictures are not allowed inside but the beauty of the place and the incredible details will hopefully make you forget about it.
To see some of the inside pictures, you should check the official website gallery: www.schloss-lichtenstein.de. If I haven’t convinced you to visit this Castle, this should do the trick!
I have fond memories of our visit of the Lichtenstein Castle. Not only because it was a beautiful day, not only because it was during a Birthday road trip (yes there is such a thing!) where we had an amazing time and visited beautiful places, but because it is a super romantic, perfectly charming and delightful Castle.
To learn more about the history of the Lichtenstein Castle and the history of the Duke of Württemberg:
I just couldn’t find the “Lichtenstein” tale by Wilhelm Hauff in an English edition. Sorry…
The Technical bits:
As mentioned above, the official website is www.schloss-lichtenstein.de and includes a gallery of pictures, where you can see how beautiful it is inside out.
The main tour is 30 minutes. Way too short in my opinion! I’ve heard about an hour long tour but it wasn’t available when we visited otherwise we would have obviously chosen that one.
The visit of the Castle is guided tour only and is in German. An English transcript is available. Our guide spoke very well English, like most Germans, and answered all my questions, and there were quite a few 😉
The Castle is privately owned by the Urach family and it seems that most of it remains for private use.
Part of the Castle can be rented!
The most famous views of the Castle shows the steep cliff and the valley underneath. The other side of the Castle, doesn’t look the same and isn’t quite as dramatic! This is actually where the main access is, in between the adjoining buildings. To see the Castle as pictured, you need to pass the drawbridge and walk a bit further in the courtyard.
The Lichtenstein Castle shouldn’t be be confused with the Liechtenstein Castle which is in Austria. Although that one is also totally worth the visit 😉
One last peak at the castle while leaving for our next destination…
Yes, the Lichtenstein Castle is the Castle that inspired my cards (which can download for free):
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And come back soon for the visit of another incredible castle in the same region…