Lichtenstein Castle, not to be mixed up with the tiny European country Liechtenstein, is one of Germany’s best-kept secrets. Lichtenstein Castle is located in the country’s southwest state of Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is around a one-hour drive south from the city of Stuttgart.
Tourists may flock to better-known German castles, including the Neuschwanstein, which admittedly emits fairytale charm from every tower and turret. However, for an example of a less thronging, more compact reconstructed medieval gem, Lichtenstein Castle is hard to beat.
In fact, the castle does share similarities with the more celebrated Neuschwanstein. It’s nicknamed Neuschwanstein’s Little Brother and has much of the charm of the ultimate fairytale castle.
Unlike its famous “big brother,” though, Lichtenstein Castle is relatively young, constructed between 1840 and 1842. That’s because the castle that stood there originally, from 1200, was destroyed twice and eventually left as a ruin.
Despite its relatively young age, Lichtenstein Castle can easily fool the uninformed tourist. It appears far older than it really is, since it was reconstructed in a style befitting of those ancient medieval masterpieces. In fact, its design was inspired by the famous 1826 historical novel Lichtenstein, by Wilhelm Hauff.
Some of the original ruins can still be found outside of its walls. This provides more feel of the history for the tourists, who are fortunate enough to visit it.
Perhaps almost as impressive as the castle itself is the view from it. It overlooks the quaint town of Honau and the rolling Swabian Alps beyond. That’s because Lichtenstein Castle is built on the side of a cliff.
Visitors can take a guided tour lasting around 30 minutes. However, since the castle is off the beaten track, the tours are only conducted in German. For those not familiar with the language, exploring it unguided is still an enriching and memorable experience.
Because the castle was originally built as a hunting lodge, it is very small. However, its charms and antiquities, including furniture, armor, and historical weapons can be explored relatively easily.
Anyone, who takes a trip there is lucky to do so for another reason too. An American tank fired a shell at it during World War Two, striking the main tower. It didn’t go off. Had it done so, the castle would surely have been destroyed. Instead, a hole in the plaster remains there today to remind us how the castle narrowly avoided a similar fate to the older one that stood there before it.
Apart from January and February, when the castle is shut, there’s never a bad time to visit. However, for the most stunning views, the Fall is surely the most eye-catching. At that time of year, the lush greenery of the wooded valley, turns vibrant shades of yellow and orange, which paints a particularly breathtaking view.
At whatever time of year you go, one thing is sure. This small and somewhat unassuming castle will cast its spell, charming you into submission as completely as any of the more ostentatious castles the country is famous for.
1 Schloß Lichtenstein