Count Wilhelm of Württemberg built Schloss Lichtenstein (“shining stone”) right into the side of a cliff at the northwestern edge of the Swabian Alps. The castle marks an architectural shift from classic to Gothic Revival. Located in the state of Baden–Württemberg in southern Germany, it is one of the most impressive castles in Germany.
In 1100, the counts of Württemberg built the medieval Burg Alt-Lichtenstein. The counts were not friendly with the neighboring city of Reutlingen. Consequently, the castle was under frequent attack. As a result of the conflicts, the original castle was destroyed twice – once in 1311, once somewhere between 1377-1381. They rebuilt the castle in 1390 about 1,600 feet from the original structure. Presently, this is the site of the modern-day castle.
By 1567, the castle no longer served as the county’s ducal seat and fell into disrepair. During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the Tyrolean line of Habsburgs took over the castle. The Lichtenstein family line ended with the death of the last member in 1687.
In 1802, King Frederick I of Württemberg tore down the foundations of the castle and built a modest hunting lodge. The King’s cousin, Count Wilhelm von Urach bought the estate in 1837. He built the modern-day castle between 1840-1842 inspired by the 1826 novel Lichtenstein. The castle was built using the foundations of the 1390 castle up to the third floor. Count Wilhelm oversaw the furnishing of the castle himself as he had an affinity for medieval arts and armor. He built the surrounding curtain wall and courtyard to make the castle complex complete. In 1857, he added an outer wall and bailey complete with turrets and bastions.
The King was present for the 1842 inauguration ceremony of the castle. The revolution of 1848 resulted in Count Wilhelm named the first duke of Urach. After this, the castle became the official residence of the dukes of Urach in 1869.
About the Castle
Schloss Lichtenstein is still owned today by the dukes of Urach and parts of the castle are open to the public. The castle did sustain damage during World War II. Thankfully, immediate efforts were made towards restoration. Additionally, the outer walls were restored in 1980, the second floor in 1998, and the upper floors and roof restored in 2002.
The castle usually only offers guided tours in German. However, tours in English are available for groups of over 20 people by request. No self-guided tours are available.
The tour lasts about 30 minutes. On the first floor, visitors can see the armory, the chapel (with glass paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries), the drinking room, and medieval paintings throughout. Next, the tour moves on to the second floor which offers the bay room with medieval furniture, the knight’s hall, and the Lichtenstein family’s coat of arms. Finally, the famous painting, Schütze vom Lichtenstein (“Archer of Lichtenstein”), marks the end of the tour.
If you have a group of more than 15 people, you must make a reservation by email or phone
About the Tour
The castle staff asks that you avoid high heels to prevent damage to wooden floors
You can take your dog in the castle garden and can even bring your dog on the tour, but they must be carried throughout the tour
You may not take photos inside the castle
The castle does have steep steps in between floors and there is no elevator
January to February: closed
March: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
April to October: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
November to December: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Closed for Christmas – December 24, 25, and 26
€3 for adults
€1,50 for children
Basic Guided Tour
€8 for adults
€7 reduced (for those over 65, with disabilities, students, and soldiers)
€3,50 for children
There is a parking lot with nearby restrooms available 500 feet from the castle. Additionally, the castle is pretty accessible by public transport (there is a bus from the nearby town of Reutlingen).
This charming castle remains one of the most impressive fortifications from the Late Middle Ages in Germany and is definitely a worthwhile stop on your fairytale castle trail!