Wednesday, Jun. 09, 2010

Lichtenstein Castle, Germany

Perched on a forested crag in the foothills of the Alps, Lichtenstein Castle is the archetypal fairy-tale keep. It was built between 1840-42 by Count Wilhelm of Württemberg, then an independent kingdom in southern Germany. Wilhelm was inspired by a novel popular at the time called Lichtenstein, a romantic portrayal of the region's chivalric warriors in the Middle Ages. His neo-gothic citadel was erected on the supposed foundations of an earlier stronghold of the noble knights of Lichtenstein — not to be confused with the Principality of Liechtenstein — whose lineage faded by the 17th century. The castle's keep and outer buildings are linked by a narrow causeway; its broad crenellated stone walls meld into a cliff face that drops down into the Echaz Valley below. But its seeming impregnability ought not deter visitors — nowadays, the castle is a popular spot for weddings.