Chances are that unless you live in Germany, you haven’t heard of Lichtenstein Castle (or Schloss Lichtenstein in German).
It’s not nearly as famous as Heidelberg Castle or the Residenz in Munich. It also doesn’t have a claim to fame like Burghausen Castle, the longest in all of Europe. But don’t mistake its relative obscurity for uninteresting. Here are seven interesting things I found out about it during a recent visit:
#1. Lichtenstein Castle Has a Nickname - It’s a source of pride among locals in the southwest state of Baden-Württemberg, so much so that it has acquired not one, but two nicknames. The first is “Neuschwanstein’s Little Brother,” after Neuschwanstein Castle, the most famous castle in all of Germany, even though I think Linderhof Palace, another King Ludwig II castle, is nicer. The second is the “Fairytale Castle in Baden-Württemberg,” again indirectly referencing Neuschwanstein Castle. No word on what the proud residents of the nearby Hohenzollern Castle, or Ludwigsburg Palace have to say about that.
#2. It Isn’t Overrun with International Tourists – Despite being a source of local pride, it isn’t on the radar of most international tourists. As a result the 30 minute tour is only available in German. Travel tip: English speaking guests can request a handout translating what is being said translated into English. It may be possible to arrange a tour in English or French, but it is only for groups and arrangements must be made ahead of time. Despite it not being a stop for most international tourists, it is popular with German tourists eager to see Neuschanstein’s Little Brother. I personally loved Lichtenstein Castle and even J.P. my German husband who’s not much of a castle guy said it was “cute.”
#3. It’s a Relatively Young Castle – Lichtenstein Castle is still an infant in castle years having being built between 1840-1842. However the grounds have a much older history. The original castle was built in 1200, but destroyed twice until it finally fell into ruins.
#4. It’s a Small Castle - Lichtenstein Castle is the smallest castle I’ve been in to date in Germany, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive. Plus it offers vast views of the Echaz Valley and Swabian Alps. And when you consider that it was only built as a hunting castle, it does start to seem rather large. I’ve never thought of a castle as “cozy” but that’s the feeling I had as I toured inside – well except for all the antique rather uncomfortable looking furniture.
#5. It’s Based on the Novel “Lichtenstein” - How many castles were inspired by a book? I don’t know, but this was one of them. It was inspired by the 1826 novel “Lichtenstein” by Wilhelm Hauff. I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s on my reading list. I’m curious to find out how a book inspired this Neo-Gothic structure.
#6. Its Name is Self Explanatory – No interesting story here. Lichtenstein is German for “light colored stone” on which the castle is build on,. Clearly German practicality has been around for at least a couple of centuries.
#7. Lichtenstein Castle is Definitely Worth a Day Trip from Stuttgart - It’s only an hour drive south of Stuttgart and is a scenic drive with rolling hills and small villages through the Swabian Alps. If you like castles, this one is worth a visit. You can also turn it into a day trip by visiting Germany’s only Easter Egg Museum in nearby Sonnenbühl and Bear Cave and Fog Cave two interesting Show Caves.