Lichtenberg Castle

Lichtenberg Castle rises majestically above the picturesque Odenwald landscape. The first Renaissance castle in southern Hesse became the model for other representative buildings in the region. The former summer residence of the first landgraves of Darmstadt is now a popular excursion destination near Darmstadt.

At a glance

Museum Schloss Lichtenberg
64405 Fischbachtal-Lichtenberg

A map of Hessen HESSEN

Lichtenberg Castle has been a characteristic landmark above the Fischbach Valley in the northern Odenwald for centuries. Its origins lie in a castle of the Counts of Katzenelnbogen, who had it built at the beginning of the 13th century on the unwooded, “light” hill, an ideal location as it provided an unobstructed view from and to the fortification.

At the behest of the first Landgrave of Hesse-Darmstadt, George I, court architect Jakob Kesselhut began to rebuild and extend the complex in 1570. George, who as a youth had already become acquainted with the Renaissance style in his native town of Kassel and on journeys through Germany and to Venice, wanted the palace to be built in this then contemporary formal language. In Germany, this is characterised by, among other things, the stepped gables, which are curved here, and the regular rows of windows. As the first large Renaissance castle in the Landgraviate of Hesse-Darmstadt, Lichtenberg Castle became a style-defining model for numerous other buildings in the region. For the construction of the castle, which lasted until 1581, the inhabitants of the district of Lichtenberg had to pay dues, which – according to literature – they complained about for a long time.

Lichtenberg Castle, bastion

The mighty walls of the bastion built in 1503 opposite the castle never had to prove their stability during attacks.

Foto: Stephan Peters, 2014

From Landgravial Summer Residence to a Wedding Venue

The portal of the east wing, crowned with the coat of arms, still commemorates the builder and his wife Magdalene zu Lippe. The landgravial family used Lichtenberg as a summer residence and hunting lodge. During plague epidemics and at the time of the Thirty Years’ War, the castle was sometimes their permanent residence. When the landgraves’ interest in Lichtenberg waned from the middle of the 18th century, long years of changing use followed. Since the beginning of the 2000s, this valuable monument has been carefully restored. The goal of the monument conservators is to preserve the historical substance and make it as authentic as possible to experience again. The castle is already an attractive place for wedding couples: rooms for civil weddings have been set up on the ground floor of the south wing; in the comprehensively restored castle chapel, which was solemnly blessed in 2010, couples can also tie the knot in church.

Unconquered Bulwark

A wonderful view of Lichtenberg Castle can be seen from the bulwark, which today lies in the middle of the village of Lichtenberg. After Lichtenberg fell to the landgraves of Hesse in 1479, Landgrave William II had the round, two-storey turret built in 1503. With its diameter of 18.70 metres and 5.80-metre-thick walls, it was one of the most powerful of its time, but never had to withstand serious attacks.

Lichtenberg Castle

Lichtenberg Castle set the style for other Renaissance buildings in southern Hesse.

Foto: Anja Dötsch

Lichtenberg Castle, portal with coats of arms

The portal is decorated with the coats of arms of George I of Hesse-Darmstadt and his wife Magdalene zur Lippe.

Foto: Anja Dötsch

Lichtenberg Castle, chapel

Today, wedding couples can get married in the restored castle chapel.

Foto: Anja Dötsch