The lineage of the Knights of Lichtenstein – a respectable and noble family – subsisted until the 17th century. Their ancestral seat Lichtenstein Fortress was situated directly above Honau and the source of the river Echaz, a site which today is called “Old Lichtenstein”.
In addition to their impressive ancestral seat the Masters of Lichtenstein (the last of them died fighting the Turks in 1687) possessed goods and held power in Honau, Ober- and Unterhausen, Holzelfingen and Kleinengstingen.
In the course of the so-called “Wars of the Cities” the Masters of Lichtenstein were attacked by the citizens of Reutlingen time and again. The latter conquered and destroyed the fortress in 1377. It has not been rebuilt ever since. Instead of reconstructing the fortress the lordship of Württemberg had another Lichtenstein Fortress built – 15 minutes off “Old Lichtenstein”.
The new Lichtenstein Fortress, built in 1390, was considered to be one of the best-fortified fortresses of the Middle Ages and withstood every single attack. In 1567, however, it lost its status as ducal seat and deteriorated. In 1802 the building was dismantled to its foundation walls and replaced by a rather unpretentious hunting lodge.
In 1837 Count Wilhelm of Württemberg bought the hunting lodge and the surrounding estate from his cousin King Wilhelm of Württemberg. Inspired by the novel “Lichtenstein” by Wilhelm Hauff and with the aid of architect Heideloff Count Wilhelm of Württemberg then had a German medieval knight’s castle built in 1840-42. This new construction included the foundation walls of the ancient fortress up to the third floor. Adjoining buildings and facilities, a courtyard and a curtain wall completed the castle complex. A painter from Nuremberg was responsible for the inner and outer ornamentation of the castle.
Yet, according to contemporary accounts, the heart and soul behind the process of the reconstruction was “the illustrious builder-owner with his ingenious ideas.” Having a preference for arts and home country Count Wilhelm of Württemberg furnished the rooms of the castle himself. Lichtenstein Castle, now a romantic neo-Gothic knight’s castle, was inaugurated in 1842 with the King present.
For technical and legal reasons Dr Wilhelm Duke of Urach Count of Württemberg founded a BGB company by the name of “Gesellschaft bürgerlichen Rechtes der Familie Dr. Wilhelm Herzog von Urach Graf von Württemberg“ in 1929.
Restoration of the outer wall, the tower and the roof started in 1980. Over the years until 1998 the second floor alongside various valuable art-historical objects were restored. With the aid of foundations and non-profit associations (“Wüstenrotstiftung” and “Fördergemeinschaft zur Erhaltung des Schlosses Lichtenstein e.V.”) the third and fourth floor of Lichtenstein Castle were restored in 1998-2002.