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If you have asked yourself, “What is there really to do at castle ruins besides take a few pictures?”, then Burg (Castle) Lichtenberg may be just for you. The largest castle ruin grounds in Germany have a full range of options as we were surprised to find out, complete with an excellent restaurant, lookout tower, 3 museums, outdoor snack area, hiking trails, and great views! Located outside Kusel, 20 minutes north of Ramstein, the castle makes for a great day trip. We visited the castle twice with Family and had nice experiences both times.
Built as a fortress around 1200, the castle was once the seat of power for the region of Zweibrücken. When the French ruled in the late 1700s, the castle was plundered during the chaos and a fire in 1799 destroyed much of it. In the 1970s parts of the castle were restored including the lookout tower.
We found that the best way to find the castle was to just look up Burg Lichtenberg, 66871 Thallichtenberg on our maps program. It is a ten minute drive off of the A62 and there is free parking at the castle, and also free admission! The castle grounds are partially stroller friendly but not entirely, so we used the Baby Bjorn which came in very handy. For example, you can walk into the castle grounds themselves which are rocky and uneven, climb the tower, and climb the eastern wall of the castle which is near the main entrance.
The lookout tower is certainly worth the trip up the 100 or so steps to the top. There are windows in the stone to see out in each direction including views of another castle, monastery, and Potzberg mountain.
We stopped by the museums on our first visit and picked up a book on the history of the castle from the giftshop. The museums are a bit unique, as we have noticed with many museums in germany, for example there is one on traveling musicians in the Pfalz region, one on Nature Studies, and also a Geoskop Museum of the Primitive World. Admission is a few euros for each museum.
There is a castle church also on the grounds where they do Civil Marriages once per month. We actually saw a wedding setup taking place on our first visit, and the bride and groom were getting their pictures taken on the castle grounds.
Finally, there is a long stone building on the property with great views that houses the Jugendherberge (Youth Hostel) and Burg Restaurant. We can’t say much about the youth hostel except that there are some snacks and drinks available in the lobby for cheap. Another option for snacks is the outdoor food stand near the castle entrance.
The Burg Restaruant is excellent and we have eaten there on two occasions. It is German food with more menu options and better presentation than a typical Gasthaus. We have noticed that most German restaurants are very good, but they are also very similar, so it was nice to have some variety. For example, we tried the pumpkin soup and beef Stroganoff to go along with the German Staples of pork medallions and Wiener Schnitzel. Call for a reservation at the restaurant (06381-2633) and you can ask for a window table as the views are outstanding!
For more information you can visit the castle website which has an English option: http://www.burglichtenberg.de/en/index.htm