Castle from the 14th century, castle ruin includes residential apartments, enclosing walls and a lookout tower
It is not possible to connect the many von Stein families which are documented in the Thuringian region since the 12th century with all those castles in the Thuringian Forest and its foothills whose names end in –stein. However, with regard to the castle ruin of Liebenstein north-east of the spa-town of Bad Liebenstein there is documentary evidence that in 1360 the Lords von Stein who resided in nearby Altenstein received Liebenstein Castle as a fief from the Thuringian landgrave.
After the conversion of the castle into a fortified residence the noble family moved from Altenstein to the nearby Burgberg (castle hill) in 1386. From this time on there was a frequent succession of owners; moreover the castle was also involved and severely damaged in military conflicts. In the last third of the 17th century the castle consisting of a later part (from around 1554) and an older one was given up; in 1800 the ruin was once again owned by the House of Sachsen-Meiningen. At that time it was ruled by Duke Georg I (1761 – 1803) whom his contemporaries considered to be “a wise ruler, a benevolent prince and father of his people; he was an active philanthropist, an admirer of service, a patron of scholars and artists, and a person of noble character.” Liebenstein Castle ruin is one of the traces he left, because he initiated its conservation and restoration in parts. He also had the tall arched bridge erected which connects the completely preserved outside walls of the three-storeyed residential apartments with the enclosing wall (the viewing platform was only added in 1932). Visitors today only get an incomplete impression of the castle complex which used to be considerably more spacious. Since 1998 the Palace, Castle and Gardens Trust of Thuringia has been the owner of the ruin of Liebenstein Castle, which in parts are is still surrounded by outer bailey walls.
On their way to the castle ruin and to Altenstein House and Park, which is also being looked after by the Trust, visitors can walk through a wooded area where the Reformer Martin Luther was “assaulted” and afterwards taken to the Wartburg near Eisenach.