Lichtenstein Castle – A German Fairytale (History & Travel Tips)


Often known as the Fairytale Castle of Wurttemberg, Lichtenstein Castle stands tall on an 800-meter-high cliff in the countryside of the Swabian Mountains. This incredible masterpiece was built from 1840 to 1842 by the Count of Wurttemberg, who later became the first Duke of Urach.

The castle has been a great tourist destination, with thousands of admirers worldwide, due to its attractive location and Gothic-style structure. The castle is still owned by the Dukes of Urach and is the residence of some of the family members. 

If you want more details about the castle, you have come to the right place. Let’s explore the castle’s history, current status, and exciting facts–what makes it a hotspot destination among tourists.

The name of the castle is self-explanatory. Lichtenstein means “shining stone” in German. The castle is built on a light-colored stone that shines bright when the sun’s rays touch it. It perfectly explains the name and also the artistic beauty of the castle.

Lichtenstein castle and the city view.
A captivating view of Lichtenstein Castle and Honau village.

Frequently Asked Questions


Early History

The Beginning

The early history of Lichtenstein Castle dates back to the 12th century. During that period, the castle was home to the Lords of Lichtenstein, a noble and highly regarded family of the era. They controlled essential resources of the region since they owned much of the land. 

The site today, known as the old Lichtenstein, was their ancestral fortress where the family lived. Unfortunately, the castle was subjected to continuous attacks from the villagers since they were not happy with how these feudal lords treated them.

The original castle was destroyed twice due to civil war in 1311 and 1377. 

A vintage picture of the Hunting Lodge in 1802.
A vintage picture of the Hunting Lodge in 1802. Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

After the second destruction in 1377, the Lords of Liechtenstein decided to rebuild the fortress at a slightly different location, 500 meters (1640 feet) above the original site, where the present-day Lichtenstein Castle exists. This new castle was completed in 1390 and was one of the most striking fortifications of the Late Middle Ages. The new castle stood erect to withstand numerous attacks.

In 1567, the castle lost its status and glamor and began to fall into desolation. After the last member of the Lichtenstein family died in 1687, while fighting in the Great Turkish War, the castle was captured by the Habsburg family’s Tyrolean line. However, the Tyrolean family members did not look after the castle. It continued to deteriorate until it fell into the hands of King Frederick I of Wurttemberg. He dismantled the whole structure of the castle and built a hunting lodge on the site in 1802.

The Contemporary Castle 

Wilhelm, the Count von Urach, bought the lodge and the surroundings to restore it and make a great castle there drawing on Romantic architectural influences. 

The early 19th century was a peak period for Romanticism, where a great emphasis was put on restoring the glorified music, arts, and literature of the past into the present time. Count Wilhelm was interested in arts and architecture and was immensely inspired by the historical novel Lichtenstein, written by Wilhelm Hauff in 1926. 

As a lover of ancient architecture and art, Count Wilhelm decided to make a castle embellished with Gothic architectural features. The building of the castle used the old foundation of the original castle. The whole structure was designed by the architect Carl Alexander Heideloof but was profoundly influenced by Count Wilhelm. The count personally furnished and designed the rooms, reflecting his interest in architecture and design.

The Gothic-styled appearance of the castle.
The Gothic-styled appearance of the castle. André Karwath aka Aka, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

This romantic Gothic castle was inaugurated in 1843 and became the official residence of the Dukes of Urach in 1869. In 1848, after the revolution, Count Wilhelm became the first Duke of Urach, bringing many worthy changes to the castle, including strengthening its defense.

The Final Restoration 

An American tank, during World War II, hit the central tower, which created a major hole in the tower. Thankfully, the tower did not collapse, saving it from devolving into ruins. The defective state of the castle, including the outer walls and towers, was restored in 1980, and the historical artifacts were placed on the second floor. The upper floor was restored in 2022.

The entrance way bridge of Lichtenstein castle.
The entrance way bridge of Lichtenstein castle. Schloß Lichtenstein Entrance Way flickr photo by PetroleumJelliffe shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

Current Times

Today, the charming castle stands tall at the top of the cliff. The castle is still owned by the Dukes of Urach and is open to visitors during selected times with a guided tour.

At present, a lush green landscape surrounds the castle during spring and summer, which pleases the heart. Many people believe the castle looks more beautiful during autumn, showing autumn colors as the leaves and other green plants transform into orange and yellow hues.

In winter, the castle is surrounded by snow, although it is closed in December and January when winter is at its peak. But if you happen to go there during the holidays of November, February, and March, you will see the picturesque image of the castle veiled in snow.

Aesthetic of Linchenstein Castle in summers.
Aesthetic of Linchenstein Castle in summers.

Interesting Lichtenstein Castle Facts

The interesting facts about Lichtenstein enhance its charm and enchant the visitor. After knowing these facts, you will surely want to visit this fairy tale castle at least once in your lifetime. 

  • Lichtenstein Castle is small yet the pride of the people of Baden-Wurttemberg. The unrivaled beauty and aesthetics of the castle made the locals give it many names. Some people refer to it as Neuschwanstein’s Little Brother because of Neuschwanstein’s popularity as being the most eminent and illustrious castle in Germany.
  • Tourists usually assume castles to be old and historic, belonging to thousands or at least hundreds of years ago. However, Lichtenstein Castle is a fairly young castle. It stands on ancient roots having a rich history; however, the castle was rebuilt in 1840-1842. The architecture of the castle makes it look older and more historical, but in reality, the castle is only 182 years. 
  • Castles are often massive like you might have seen in Hohenzollern or Neuschwanstein, but Lichtenstein is not as huge as you may have imagined. The castle is smaller than many other castles in Germany. Do not let this fact devalue the castle’s worth and uniqueness. Great things often come in small packages. It has an admirable look and a fantastic view of the village, adding to its beauty. 
  • Every castle is crowded, and visitors sometimes feel uncomfortable surrounded by a bunch of people. Unlike other packed castles, Lichtenstein Castle has fewer visitors and is not crowded as others. So, if you do not like crowded places, this castle is an excellent place for you to visit.
  • The name of the castle is self-explanatory. Lichtenstein means “shining stone” in German. The castle is built on a light-colored stone that shines bright when the sun’s rays touch it. It perfectly explains the name and also the artistic beauty of the castle.

Visiting Lichtenstein Castle – Tips and Tricks

Lichtenstein Castle is one of the most exhilarating castles in Germany, attracting tourists from all over the world. Its thrilling location at the cliff’s edge and the Gothic style make it a perfect place for the fairytale knights and maiden fairies.

the view of Lichtenstein castle in winter season with clear bright blue sky
Lichtenstein Castle in Winter – Janobi [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

How to get to Lichtenstein Castle?

The nearest train station to the castle is Reutlingen Hbf. Reutlingen is close to Stuttgart, the closest city, only 58 kilometers (36 miles) away.

You can also get to Lichtenstein Castle through B27 and B213 roads located south of Honau village. A large parking area is available on the castle grounds, from where it is a short walk towards the castle’s entrance.

Ticket Prices, Visiting Hours & Travel Tips

Information was checked & updated on November 5, 2023.

The castle ticket is quite economical as it costs only €12 ($14 USD) for a single person to visit the castle. If you only wish to visit the courtyard, you have to pay only €4 ($6 USD) and can roam around freely without a guide. 

Don’t forget to double-check the castle’s visiting hours before you visit. The castle is open daily for visitors from April to October from 9am to 5:30 pm. 

In November, December, and March, the castle is available from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. The castle is closed to the public entirely in January and February. 

If you are an international visitor, you should take English brochures to familiarize yourself, as the guide will not speak English during the tour. Additionally, you can take your children to the castle and turn the journey into a learning experience. It also has areas for strollers; however, you won’t be able to take the strollers inside the castle.

A lush green view of Lichtenstein castle.
A lush green view of Lichtenstein castle.

How Long Will It Take to Tour Around?

A visit to Lichtenstein Castle is just as short as visits to other castles. A tour of the first and second floors of the court can be completed in half an hour. If you visit the castle during the special tour’s availability, you may need an additional half an hour to see everything.

Things To Do at Lichtenstein Castle

  • The most important thing to do in Lichtenstein Castle is to have a closer and more admirable look at the castle’s exterior: the court is notable for its Gothic-style architecture.
  • If you are fortunate enough to visit the castle during the special guided tour, you will also get to see the castle’s third and fourth floors, which are not permissible to visit during regular visits. 
  • A definite visiting point while exploring the castle is the Great Hall of the Castle, where the coat of arms (a pair of golden wings on a blue background) belonging to the Liechtenstein family is on display. 
  • During World War II, an American tank’s shell attack caused a hole in the central tower. You can see some of its remnants on the tower walls.

Some words of advice and tips: 

  • The castle is at a stunning breathtaking location where you see the picturesque view of the Echaz River and valley. Take a moment to admire the gorgeous view.
  • Near the castle, you will find a rope course that gives you a chance to explore your climbing abilities. Note that children under eight years are not allowed.

Many people want dream destination engagements and weddings. Some parts of the castle are open for public gatherings such as weddings, parties, etc. If you want your wedding to be out of this world, you can rent a space at this castle.

Quick Video Tour of The Main Lichtenstein Castle Areas

Kainat Khalid
Kainat Khalid
Kainat is an English literature graduate with a profound interest in historical architecture. She has studied and explored the dusted pages of history for years which has ignited her passion to explore the existing remnants of our past glory and revisit them from a revised perspective. “There is no present without the past” is what she believes in and what drove her to begin cataloging these timeless historical monuments.

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