Lichtenstein Castle (Schloss Lichtenstein) is a privately owned tourist attraction built in Gothic Revival style and located in the Swabian Jura of southern Germany. It was designed by Carl Alexander Heideloff and has been described as the "fairy tale castle of Württemberg." It overlooks the Echaz valley near Honau, Reutlingen in the state of Baden-Württemberg. The modern castle was inspired by the novel Lichtenstein (1826) by Wilhelm Hauff and was built in 1840-1842. The ruins of the medieval castle that inspired the novel are a few hundred meters away. The name Lichtenstein translates as "shining stone."
The castle is located on an escarpment that marks the northwestern edge of the Swabian Jura. It is in the Reutlingen district and has an altitude of 817 metres (2,680 feet). and about 250 metres (820 feet) above the Echaz river, a small tributary of the Neckar river. The ruins of Lichtenstein Castle’s medieval predecessor, the Burg Alt-Lichtenstein, lies 500 metres (1,600 feet) away.
Beginning around 1100, a castle belonging to a family of ministerials of the counts of Achalm and later counts of Württemberg, was located on the escarpment above the source of the river Echaz. The castle and its denizens, the lords of Lichtenstein, were not friendly with the Free Imperial City of Reutlingen and were thus under frequent attack. The old castle was destroyed twice, once during the imperial civil war of 1311 and again by the citizens of Reutlingen sometime between 1377 and 1381. A new castle was built in 1390 some 500 metres (1,600 ft) from the ruins of the old one. The site selected was the same as that of the current structure. It was one of the most impressive fortifications of the Late Middle Ages. Despite such features as early casemates that made it nearly unassailable, the castle ceased to be the ducal seat in 1567 and fell into disrepair. During the Thirty Years’ War (1618–48), it was taken over by the Tyrolean line of the Habsburgs following the death of the last member of the Lichtenstein family in 1687 during the Great Turkish War. The coat of arms of their family, a pair of golden angel wings on a blue background, is still displayed in the Great Hall of the castle.
In 1802, King Frederick I of Württemberg came into possession of the castle, dismantled it to its foundations and replaced it with a hunting lodge.
The castle was damaged during World War II, but efforts to restore the castle began in the immediate aftermath of the war. Once again, and thanks to local non-profit organizations like the Wüstenrot Foundation and Community Fund for the Preservation of Lichtenstein Castle, the walls were restored in 1980, followed by the second floor in 1998. The upper floor and roof were restored in 2002.
Still owned by the dukes of Urach, the castle is open to the public via guided tour, although some rooms may not be entered. The courtyard is open to the general public, allowing the gun emplacements on the walls to be viewed.