In the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany, lies one of the country’s most underrated castles: Lichtenstein. Located about an hour’s drive from the beautiful city of Stuttgart, this castle is perched on a cliff, overlooking the Black Forest. Lichtenstein Castle gets its name from the Knights of Lichtenstein who were a noble family in the then Kingdom of Württemberg. The family had the castle built in 1390, after deciding to relocate from a fortress located down the mountain from the new location. This decision proved to be more than worth it because Lichtenstein Castle withstood every single attack mounted on it throughout the Middle Ages. In 1567, the Lichtenstein family – which, by now, were Dukes – shifted their seat to another castle, and the Lichtenstein Castle was ignored. By 1687, the last of the Lichtensteins perished fighting the Ottoman Turks, and no one tended to the castle at all. By 1802, all but the foundations of Lichtenstein Castle remained, and somebody had the audacity to construct an unpretentious hunting lodge over it!

The main room

Enter our savior. Count Wilhelm of Württemberg purchased the hunting lodge and the surrounding estate in 1837, and set about constructing a new castle on it. His main inspiration for the construction was the book “Lichtenstein” by German author Wilhelm Hauff. Strangely, there is a surprisingly high number of Wilhelms in the history of Lichtenstein Castle. The shiny new castle was opened in 1842 and has been there ever since.

A private chamber inside the Lichtenstein Castle.

Now, that the history class is over, let’s get into the useful stuff: what to do when visiting the castle. Inside the castle, there is much to see such as the Armory, a quaint little chapel, the Knights’ Hall as well as many other rooms. The furniture is modeled on Medieval times and the feel is quite authentic. Other attractions lie outside, such as majestic views of the Black Forest from the mountaintop and the drawbridge. The castle has quite choosyopening times, if you ask me but the fee for theguided tour (the only way to tour the castle) are quite decent. It’s also possible to rent the castle which is quite cool.

The drawbridge

As you might notice by looking at the photo below, it is more than worth it to visit the place in the winter. It should make for a whole truckload of Instagram photos and Facebook profile photos. If you come from a warm part of the world like me, your family and friends back home will ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ at your winter photos. While in the neighborhood, you’ll be criminally insane not to visit the utterly stunning Black Forest. Hohenzollern Castle is nearby as well.

The castle in winter

Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein in German) is not famous outside of Germany, but it’s known as the fairytale castle of Baden-Württemberg and is worth a visit.

It’s not nearly as famous as Heidelberg Castle or the Residenz in Munich.  It also doesn’t have a claim to fame like Burghausen Castle, the longest in all of Europe.  But don’t mistake its relative obscurity for uninteresting.

Inside of lichtenstein castle

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In Winter

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Here are seven facts that will make your visit to this reconstructed medieval castle more enjoyable

#1. Lichtenstein Castle Has a Nickname

It’s a source of pride among locals in the southwest state of Baden-Württemberg. So much so that it has acquired not one, but two nicknames.  The first isNeuschwanstein’s Little Brother, after Neuschwanstein Castle, the most famous castle in all of Germany.  The second, as already mentioned  is the Fairytale Castle of Baden-Württemberg, again indirectly referring to Neuschwanstein Castle, which was the inspiration for the Disney castle.  No word on what the proud residents of the nearby Hohenzollern Castle,  or Ludwigsburg Palace  have to say about that.
You cross a drawbridge to enter the castle which overlooks Honau, a nearby village in the Swabian Alps

#2.  It Isn’t Overrun with International Tourists

Despite being a source of local pride, it isn’t on the radar of most international tourists.  As a result the 30 minute tour is only available in German.  Travel tip:   English-speaking guests can ask a handout in English on the tour.  It may also be possible to arrange a tour in English or French, but it is only for groups and arrangements must be made ahead of time.  Despite it not being a stop for most international tourists, it’s  popular with German tourists eager to see the castle and the fantastic views. I loved Lichtenstein Castle. Even J.P., my German husband who’s not much of a castle guy said it was “cute.”

View walking up to the castle is impressive, but even more impressive from the valley.

#3.  It’s  a Relatively Young Castle

It’s still an infant in castle years having being built between 1840-1842.  However the grounds have a much older history.  The original castle dates back to 1200, but it was destroyed twice until it finally fell into ruins. It was reconstructed to feel like a medieval knight’s castle though, so it feels older than it actually is.

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View from the castle overlooking Honau and the Swabian Alps

#4.  It’s  a Small Castle

Lichtenstein Castle is the smallest castle I’ve been in to date in Germany. However that doesn’t  make it any less impressive.  One of the things I loved most were the vast views of the Echaz Valley and Swabian Alps.  And when you consider that it was only built as a hunting castle, it does start to seem rather large.  I’ve never thought of a castle as cozy but that’s the feeling I had as I toured inside –  well except for all the antique rather uncomfortable looking furniture.

Despite being a "cute" castle, there are a lot of historic weapons and armour on display, reflecting its history as a medieval fortress.

#5.  It’s Based on the Novel “Lichtenstein”

How many castles have been inspired by a book?  This is one of them, the 1826 novel Lichtenstein by Wilhelm Hauff.  I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s on my reading list.  I’m curious to find out how a book inspired this Neo-Gothic structure.

Lichtenstein Castle as seen from another viewpoint.

#6.  Its Name is Self Explanatory

No real secret here if you speak German.  Lichtenstein is German for light coloured stone on which the castle is build on.  Clearly German practicality has been around for at least a couple of centuries.
The castle is perched on a cliff overlooking Honau in the Swabian Alps

 

#7.  Lichtenstein Castle is Definitely Worth a Day Trip from Stuttgart

It’s only an hour drive south of Stuttgart . You’ll pass by rolling hills and small villages through the Swabian Alps.  If you like castles, this one is worth a visit.  You can also turn it into a day trip by visiting Germany’s only Easter Egg Museum in nearby Sonnenbühl and Bear Cave and Fog Cave two interesting Show Caves.

Now that you know these 7 facts about Lichtenstein Castle, your visit is sure to be even more memorable!

And if you learn anything else, be sure to share it in the comments below.