Castle of Week 132 – Lichtenstein Castle, Baden-Württemberg
Lichtenstein Castle was initially built around 1200 as a fortress, but it was destroyed during the Reichskriegs War in 1311, and again in 1381 by the Reutlingen city state after it was refurbished. The castle was left in ruins until King Frederick I of Württemberg built a hunting lodge on the castle site in 1802. Eventually the property was given to the King’s nephew, Duke Wilhelm of Urach (1837). It was the Romantic Era and the Duke (then a Count) was very much inspired by the novel Lichtenstein by Wilhelm Hauff that told of the idealist realm of the Duke of Lichtenstein who was full of dignity, braveness, morality, and patriotism.
To build his castle, the Duke commissioned the architect Carl Alexander Heideloff, who was an expert at restoring medieval cathedrals and castles, and had been hired by other aristocrats to build castles and churches. As we can see from the picture of the hunting lodge, the castle is perched on a rocky projection with a large ditch separating it from the village bailey. It was connected to the village by a bridge that was protected by at least one tower.
The hunting lodge was demolished and the the remaining stone work dismantled. The new castle is often termed a “fairy tale” castle due to the reflection of Duke Wilhelm’s inspiration in the castle’s quaint and ornate appearance. The inner part of the castle is built on the rock and the outside face of the village is fortified with a wall. The lower rooms of the keep are carved into the rock itself with a concealed tunnel into the ditch and mountainside. The ascendant tower of the keep was added in the early 20th Century by the Duke’s son.
Today, the castle houses a collection of medieval weaponry and armor, art, and the longest champagne glass in the world. The art collection contains various sculptures, portraits, and the death masks of famous Germans like Goethe, Schiller, and the Duke himself. In various niches of the castle are gnome statues performing various activities, including trying to hide from the sunlight in vain. The house is still owned by the descendants of the Duke’s family, and is the residence of Wilhelm Albert von Urach’s wife. It is open to public tours for a fee.
Write-up by Sir Hugh.
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