Schloss Lichtenstein

Schloss Lichtenstein, The Fairytale Castle of Württemberg

Schloss Lichtenstein was built by Count Wilhelm, inspired by the novel Lichtenstein. Its unique location – the top of an 800 meters-high cliff – makes it one of the most stunning structures in the region.

We visited the castle, so here is its history and how to reach it.

Lichtenstein Castle’s history

Lichtenstein Castle has its origins in the 12th century when the Lords of Lichtenstein decided to build a small fortress on their land. This location was on top of the Württemberg cliff and near the origin of the Achaz river. The fort has no connections with the tiny European nation of Liechtenstein as it takes its name from its first owners and is located in the region of Stuttgart, Germany. 

Although the fortress was located on a rather strategic point, it was destroyed twice during the civil war in 1311 and 1377. The ancient literature mentions that the Lords of Lichtenstein were not that loved in the area, and therefore we’re constantly under attack from the citizens of the Free Imperial City of Reutlingen.

It took until after the second siege before they thought about rebuilding the fortress again, which got a new – rather unique – location almost 500 meters away. They also decided to make the new fortress bigger and better equipped to better withstand any further attacks.

This new castle was completed in 1390 and functioned as one of the most substantial and most impressive fortifications of the Late Middle Ages. On the one hand, because it was protected by a steep cliff, on the other hand because it had many new and modern military features (such as casemates), making it impregnable, and withstood every single attack.

The Lichtenstein family lived in the castle until the year 1567, after which it was neglected. More than a century later (in 1687), the last heir of the Lichtenstein family died in the Great Turkish War, making the castle the property of the Habsburg family. Unfortunately, the Habsburg family did not maintain the castle either, which caused it to fall into the possession of King Frederick I of Württemberg, who is 1802, decided to dismantle the entire building and replace it with a hunting lodge.

When the German novelist Wilhelm Hauff published his historical novel Lichtenstein in 1826, giving the original castle of Lichtenstein a significant role, Count Wilhelm von Urach bought the hunting lodge from his cousin and started to reconstruct the original fortress.

The new castle was built on the ancient foundations of the 1390 castle and was built three stories tall. The castle got a courtyard, surrounding walls, and various adjacent buildings and facilities to protect the castle. 

The new neo-Gothic castle was finally inaugurated in 1842, with a ceremony that even included the king. 

In 1848, Count Wilhelm improved the castle’s defenses and fortified the castle even more through various caponiers and cannons. The castle continued to be expanded after Count Wilhelm’s death; the Ducal Palace and the old groundskeeper’s house were added in 1901.

The castle survived World War II with a bit of luck: an American tank passed through the valley and fired directly at the main tower. Fortunately, the shell failed to explode, which saved the great building from destruction. The castle tower still has a hole in its plaster as a reminder of where this cannonball struck.

Today the Dukes of Urach still own the castle; however: it is managed by the Wüstenrot Foundation and the Community Fund for the Preservation of Lichtenstein Castle. They also took the lead in the restorations of 1980 and 2002, where the castle got its current appearance.

Key facts about Schloss Lichtenstein

We could divide the Lichtenstein castle into three parts; the Castle Courtyard, the Castle Park (and extensive castle garden), and the actual Lichtenstein Castle.

Key facts
RegionBaden-Württemberg, Germany
Built in13th-Century
NamesLichtenstein Castle and Schloss Lichtenstein
Price€4 for adults, €3 for retirees and students, and €2 for children to enter the courtyard.

€10 for adults, €9 for retirees and students, and €5 for children to get a guided tour around the castle.
AddressSchloss Lichtenstein 1, 72805 Lichtenstein, Germany
GPS coordinates48° 24′ 14.39″ N, 9° 15′ 17.40″ E.
Key facts about Schloss Lichtenstein

How to reach Schloss Lichtenstein

Schloss Lichtenstein is located quite remote in the mountains, so there are only a few options for getting there by public transport.

By CarYou can drive up to the castle, which has a parking lot available 150 meters next to it.

Keep in mind: the parking lot is not free, and costs around 2 euros. 
By Train / BusThe nearest train station to the castle is located in Reutlingen and has a bus station (5 minutes walk from the railway station) where you can take the bus (no. 7606) and exit at bus stop Honau.
How to reach Schloss Lichtenstein

When to visit Lichtenstein Castle

Schloss Lichtenstein is located in the middle of nature, which means that during the spring and summer, the surrounding landscape is overwhelmed with green colors, making the castle extremely appealing. 

Personally, we prefer visiting the castle during autumn, because the surrounding trees, hills, and valleys will all have a fantastic color palette that goes from yellow and orange to red.

That’s why we visited Schloss Lichtenstein as part of our road trip, during which we traveled through Europe for a week in a campervan and visited Wegelnburg, Santuario Madonna Della Corona, and Veves Castle.

While we were exploring the area around the Castle, our electronics were charging in our motorhome using the Ecoflow River Pro power station.

As usual, the castle is always closed in December and January. During the other winter months, it is usually only open on weekends.

What to do at Lichtenstein Castle

The region around Schloss Lichtenstein is known for its hiking paths, making it easy to turn a visit to Lichtenstein Castle into a full-day activity.

  • Guided Tour. You can take part in a guided tour of the castle, which lasts around 30 minutes. 
  • Hike. There are various hiking trails in the area that pass by the castle, such as this circular route that starts at Lichtenstein Castle and offers the chance to see wildlife.
  • Adventure park. There is an adventure park, including a rope course near the castle, where everyone can test their climbing skills. 

Other attractions near Schloss Lichtenstein

You can find some of Baden-Württemberg’s most impressive observation towers and ruins around the castle. This makes it easy to spend an entire day visiting Schloss Lichtenstein and its neighboring attractions.

  • Schönbergturm Pfullingen. A 26-meter high observation tower that dates back to 1905, making it a local landmark.
  • Nebelhöhle. An 813-meter long cave, 450 meters of which are accessible to visitors.
  • Ruine Achalm. The ruins of the 11th century Achalm Castle, of which only the watchtower still stands.
  • Württemberg Mausoleum. The historic catacombs of the Württemberg Mausoleum offer a stunning view over Stuttgart’s skyline.

What to pack when visiting Lichtenstein Castle

A visit to Schloss Lichtenstein and its surroundings can quickly take up a full day, making it handy to bring some essentials with you.

Essentials to pack
Peak Design 20L BackpackThis has been our go-to backpack for ages. It carries our camera and all our other essentials effortlessly, which is why we selected it as the best camera bag for traveling in 2023.
Hiking shoesWith this muddy and rocky environment, it was essential to wear the proper footwear.
LARQ BottleStaying hydrated is essential; that’s why we’re constantly carrying a water bottle containing UV-C Light technology; It neutralizes a lot of harmful bacteria and contributes to our zero-waste lifestyle.
Holzkern “La Concorde” WatchTime flies when you’re having fun! Especially when you’re on a road trip or when you have a schedule in mind, that’s why we advise you to keep an eye on the clock.
What to pack when visiting Lichtenstein Castle

Photographing Lichtenstein Castle

To photograph the Lichtenstein Castle, you’ll want to take the weather and its seasonal conditions into account: A colorful forest or a snowy landscape is so much more helpful to create a unique photograph than when the leaves have already fallen.

Drone rules

The area is marked as a no-fly zone, which is also clearly stated on the surrounding fences. This means that drones are prohibited on the entire site of the castle, including the park and the parking lot. Nevertheless, you can find several drone videos of the Castle online.

Camera gear

As an experienced and published photographer, my camera bag grew throughout the years. It currently contains various cameras and lenses, each with its function and use – I’ve listed all of them below.

Sony A7III DSLR Camera (review)The Sony A7III DSLR Camera is a couple of years old now and is still one of the best options for travel photography.
Tamron 28-75mm LensMy default Sony camera lens. I have a 67mm HOYA polarizing filter screwed on it as standard, which captures the sky more beautifully. 
Macbook M1 Pro (review)
We edit our pictures on the new Macbook M1 Pro, mainly because it has a longer battery life is and more powerfull in editing.
Instax Mini 40 (review)The power of this Instax camera lies in the nostalgic feeling it creates, which is why I use it to capture the vibe while staying in the moment.
Camera gear

Camera settings

For aspiring photographers, landscape photography might seem like black magic. This is why we decided to break down the technical details behind this shot.

Shutter Speed1/200
Camera settings

Post-production Software

Post-production is the process of editing your picture in software such as Lightroom and Photoshop. This process helps you to improve the quality of your photos drastically.

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