Wilhelm Hauff: “Castle Lichtenstein”
Excerpts, “Lichtenstein: or, The Outlaw of Würtemberg, A Tale of the Sixteenth Century.” From the German of Hauff. Translator: Elinor M. Swann. 1859.
“The Swabian Alb? Imagine a chain of mountains stretching away into the far distance, illuminated with many a tone and tint, from delicate grey to every shade of heavenly blue, until the soft dark green of the nearest mountains hides from view the lands that lie beyond. Silent guardians of the beautiful scene, the old grey towers and fortresses dot the mountain peaks. Stout old warriors, those hero forms of Stauffen and Hohenzollern.”
“But what castle is that which seems to rise up suddenly from the depths below?
Evening shadows flung their dark mantle over the mountain tops and hid them from the gaze. The moon rose and shed her pale light over her nightly realm. The high walls were still tinged by the fading rays of the sun. Then the sun sank and the walls were wrapped in darkness, and the night wind, stirring through the woods, seemed to whisper mysterious greetings to the shining moon.
Hour after hour passed, and it was midnight before they reached the highest point. They had left the wood behind them, and right before them lay the castle of Lichtenstein, built upon a single perpendicular rock, which rose sheer up from the depths below.
Its white walls and jagged rocks shimmered in the moonlight. It seemed as though the castle lay sleeping, apart from the outer world, wrapped in the peace of isolation.
The sun had crossed the mountain-tops and the mist had cleared away. Nigh three hundred fathoms away, a pleasant valley lay stretched, bordered by woody hills and traversed by a swift little mountain streamlet. Further in the distance rose the picturesque and rugged, rocky heights of the Alps.”
“But see how the sun plays upon its tall white walls and seems to bathe its battlements in golden dust and tinge its towers with rosy light. Lichtenstein lies so near the clouds that it seems to tower above Würtemberg.
From it, one can obtain a view of the whole of the lowlands. Brightened by the rays of the morning sun, it is impossible to conceive a more lovely aspect than Würtemberg presents from such a height. The delicate color of the fields, the sparkling streams, the somber hue of the distant mounts, gilded here and there with sunshine, and the beautiful greenery of the wooded hills form a veritable paradise.”
Lichtenstein Castle is a fairy-tale styled castle located near Honau in the Swabian Alb, Baden-Württemberg, Germany. Its self-descriptive name in English “light (colored) stone.”
Historically there has been a castle on the site since around 1200. It was twice destroyed, once in the Reichskriegs war of 1311 and again by the city-state of Reutlingen in 1381. The castle was not reconstructed and subsequently fell to ruin.
In 1802 the land came into the hands of King Frederick I of Württemberg, who built a hunting lodge there. By 1837 the land had passed to his nephew Duke Wilhelm of Urach, Count of Württemberg, who, inspired by Wilhelm Hauff’s novel “Lichtenstein” added the current castle in 1840–42. The romantic Neo-Gothic design of the castle was created by the architect Carl Alexander Heideloff.
Today the castle is still owned by the Dukes of Urach. *